"Look Upon Me! I Will Show You the Life of the Mind!"
The title is a film quote. Name the film. Thoth and Peter are excluded from answering for a week.
Green Dreams for a New China
China is the emerging power of the 21st Century, this would seem the general consensus the world over. Good news if you happen to be tied into the ruling party, but really not so hot for anyone else. Not that it matters to a person on my level who is in charge, people on my level get screwed in a variety of manners no matter who holds the reigns. Some of the concern is fueled, let us face it, by racist and ethnocentristic sentiments. Some people cannot stand the idea of a non-Western, "non-White" country setting the course for the rest of the world to follow. Most worrying for most people (I would hope) is China's track record with its own people, relations with its neighbours, human rights abuses, lack of standards in the workplace and in agriculture and its overall lack of concern for the environment. And it is this last point that makes me believe that China's time in the Sun will very shot indeed.
China's population sits at an estimated 1,321,851,888 right now. As China grows into its power and rises to take its place at the top of the heap, I believe we are faced with an impending ecological collapse. I'm not a scientist and I don't have hard data to back this assumption up, but it makes sense to me. 1,321,851,888+ consumers, all wanting the things we have enjoyed here for years. 1,321,851,888+ people all wanting cars and truck and motorcycles. 1,321,851,888+ people fouling the air and water with pollution. 1,321,851,888+ people consuming even more resources transformed into trivial crap and distractions to make us feel well off, producing more garbage and creating more landfills.
We can't cope with the amount of garbage and pollution we create here in the West as it is. In fact, you could say we are choking ourselves with the waste and pollution we create - how can we possible cope with the waste that China will generate? To me, China's rise is the World's downfall. China's rise sounds the death knell for sustainability. The West has recognised China's ascension and is has been adjusting itself accordingly to fall in behind in the hopes for some of the reflected glory to shine upon them as well - that hope to become one of China's leading and indispensable allies in terms of trade and the marketplace. Where China leads everyone one else seems to be gearing up to follow.
It is in this area that I make my appeal to powers that be within China - be leaders. Don't simply saddle up to take your turn at the front of the posse just go over the same ground and territory that everyone else before you has trodden over: be leaders. Being a leader, a real leader, means to have the vision and the wherewithal to go places no one else has bothered to go, or has been reticent to tread. my prayer is that China sees what needs to be done and has the fortitude to do it - to become the Green Empire.
My hope (slim though it may be) is that China stops its rise by all means possible and embraces a rise be the best way for all concerned. China's longevity as a power will predicated on its acceptance and leadership in the environmental cause, whether China currently understands this or not. China needs to abandon energy sources like coal and embrace, if not pioneer out of necessity, alternative sources of energy. If China readjusts itself to follow a more environmentally responsible path, markets in the West will adjust themselves accordingly. Even Classic Liberals/Libertarians would make the effort to accommodate the Chinese market should it go Green.
Alternatively, should the West veer more sharply in a Green direction, China could find itself getting shut out of international markets. China may be forced to change its agricultural and manufacturing standards should public awareness swing against them in foreign markets. We can see the signs of this happening as more and more people are becoming aware of the continuing problems with Chinese made and grown products - lead, parasites, pollutants and toxins for instance. Mind you, that won't change as long as people keep thinking with their pocketbooks.
Perhaps economics is simply the best way to pressure China. With 1,321,851,888+ people, China is also looking at a health care crisis of immense proportions. One way to reduce those health problems would be to adopt a healthier way of doing things throughout the country. Less pollution, less health problems. In terms of garbage, less waste equals more space. Illness and infirmity costs money, a fact China is going to find hard to avoid.
In the end, I am not sure what can be done (if anything) to help China see a different way of doing things. But there is always hope.
I just re-read the "Bridge Trilogy" of William Gibson (Virtual Light, Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties) and am about to re-read the "Sprawl Trilogy", starting with Neuromancer. I much prefer the the "Bridge Trilogy" overall, but it is hard to top Gibson's first novel for sheer imagination. As a would be writer, it is sometimes a bit hazardous to read and re-read Gibson. It is easy to becom over-awed by the insight and visionary nature of his work.
On that note, I have run into obstacles with the book I have been doing prep work and research for and have decided to write a series of character anecdotes instead. I am basing it losely on the place where I currently work and the tower and mall adjacent to it. Hopefully it will be worthwhile reading.