Wednesday, April 17, 2024

China, America, and Climate

There are things about the American response to China that make little sense to me.

On the one hand, sure, they're not a republic.  I prefer the liberties of speech, movement, and action that are for now still my birthright as an American.  As frustrating as the squabulous ruckus of democratic process might be, there's still much to be said for the protection of individual liberties.  The forcible suppression of religion and ethnic minorities is morally unworthy.  The silencing of those who hold a society to account for injustices and corruption leads only to rot and failure.

Yet most of America's beef with China seems to be economic, which is simply absurd.  Sure, the Chinese are now a global manufacturing powerhouse, supplanting the vastly weakened American industrial base.  Sure, most of that capacity once belonged to us.  But why did that happen?

Remember in 1992, when the Chinese invaded America and took all of our factories by force?

Of course not.  China didn't steal our industry.  American CEOs did.  Wall Street did.  Eager to plump up profit margins and fatten their own absurd salaries, folks like Tim Cook at Apple simply shipped America's industrial might to China.  The Chinese weren't about to say no.  I mean, why would they?  Can you blame them?  For them, it was all win, because they're playing the long game.

I mean, we know they are.  Chinese leadership isn't thinking about the outrage du jour, third quarter profits, or fretting about vacillations in poll numbers.  I mean, why would they care about poll numbers?   Ahem. 

They're looking to what they feel will benefit China not just ten years from now, or twenty five years from now, but a hundred years from now.

Which is why it's instructive to look at how they're approaching the climate crisis, and engagement with renewable energy.  

We Americans are in a reactionary cycle, pushing back against electric cars and solar and wind.  I'll admit that electric cars are a silly solution.  I mean, sure, they're quiet and fast, but dude.  Efficiency, thy name ain't "car."  Buses and trains and a functioning public transportation infrastructure are exponentially more efficient and sustainable.  Back when America was rising to its mid-twentieth century economic height, that's how we got around.  It was at least a viable option, which it is not now in America.  

The opposition to solar, wind, and other renewables?  It's borderline psychotic, and an ideological dissonance.  If you can draw power from the sun that falls on your own land, why is this a bad thing?  If the wind that rustles through your trees can light your home, why would we have beef with that?  Why would we want less efficient bulbs and toilets?  And why are we so programmed to desire large, energy-hogging homes and cars?  Since when were thrift and ingenuity problems for conservatives?

Yet here we are.

The Chinese aren't on the same course.

The Chinese are building electric cars, sure.  But they're going all in on the whole thing.   Unfettered by legal constraints or...paradoxically...environmental regulations, they're building a vast high speed rail network.  They're turning their newfound industrial might to the mass production of solar panels in unprecedented quantities, so many that industrial concerns in the West are up in arms about anti-competitive practices.  It's a battle they've already won, as 80% of the world's solar is produced in China.  They're preparing for a harsher climate.  They're also preparing for the era when fossil fuel supplies are fading.

They're not competing with us.  At this point, we're not even playing the same game.  

Do certain Americans assume this is because they're "woke?"  They're Marxist, which is why I'd rather not live in China, but the CCP is Chinese first.  China is on many levels deeply conservative, which is why...after some naive initial missteps...the communist party there has survived.

They are preparing, with the vision of a culture that spans millennia, for a future that will come.

And we are not.