Recently, during the Kyoto talks in Durban, China raised the need for developed countries to potentially fund $500 billion a year plus utilization of technology to developing nations, which I thought was very interesting and an excellent suggestion providing that the Chinese are among those who will do it and not seek to be seen as a developing nation. China is far richer than what some people may think—they are the third highest ranked in GDP production behind only the US and Japan, and fourth highest in GNP ranking behind only the US, Japan, and Germany. And as far as I can see, does not have as onerous of a debt.
The big problem that I have with China on a social and economic scale is that the country is flush with cash, but is only reaching top-level bureaucrats and the 200 million middle class people who are living lifestyles very much akin to those in the West, while the other 800 million plus are being exploited for cheap labor in manufacturing jobs. These jobs lead to massive amounts of greenhouse emissions, as well as between 500-700 thousand deaths a year due to respiratory problems from both factory production and automobile usage, the two biggest contributors to China’s environmental problems.
It isn’t that the Chinese are not able to deal with it. The problem is that while the Chinese make excellent strides in improving their green initiatives, the government pushes aside environmental practices in favor of more factories and manufacturing. This is something that neither the Chinese nor the world can afford, as greenhouse gases are reaching incredible global levels.
The other perplexing thing about China is that there are many solar companies located there, and China is in truth the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, totalling over 40%. All of these solar panels, as far as I can see, are being sold overseas to the EU, Australia, and North America. China’s justification for not utilizing what is currently available in the market is a rather weak one and that is that it is too expensive to implement the technology into the country—this coming from a nation that has extremely high overall rankings in terms of both GDP and GNP.
The problem isn’t that China is either poor or doesn’t have the technology to make better strides, the problem is that the government is not effective in allocating resources to where they are needed in order to raise the living and environmental standards as a whole. And quite honestly, it is all politics of domestic and foreign perpetuation of human exploitation with ongoing disastrous results that we can no longer afford.
Banner photo: Gary Lerude