The Green Movement’s People Problem

I drafted the original post below months ago, for some reason never published it. This vile piece of excrement got me motivated. WARNING – the video at the link is graphic, showing children and adults being blown up for being opposed to or just apathetic about global warming. If you want to a good idea of just how screwed up the environmentalist movement really is, and how little impact they will have trying to sell their message to developing economies like China, India, Brazil, etc., watch the video. This is what evil looks like.

People who live in the polluted areas of China know it, and any of them will tell you they’d like things to be cleaner, but most also understand this is a trade-off – one kind of green for another. Green technology will fly in these markets as long as it works at a reasonable cost. As I’ve said before, environmentalism as it currently exists in the West is a luxury. When you are dirt poor, you are far less likely to get misty-eyed about dirt.

I cannot do better to close my commentary on this wretched bit of eco-fascist propaganda than quote the great James Taranto quoting the peerless David Burge, aka Iowahawk:

No, this video was made by green supremacists themselves, and with a high degree of technical proficiency. As 10:10 itself observed in a statement (since removed from its website), the video required the efforts of “50+ film professionals and 40+ actors and extras.” Blogger David Burge notes that “somehow, throughout this entire process, not one of the hundreds of people involved seemed to have questioned the wisdom of an advertising message advocating the violent, sudden death of people who disagree with it.”

Now, the original post, drafted way back in January 2010:

This is an excellent piece on how the “green” movement gets it wrong when it targets human beings as the problem.

Key paragraphs:

But the main, fundamental problem facing the movement after Copenhagen–which none of the green factions have yet addressed–is its people problem. The movement needs to break with the deep-seated misanthropy that dominates green politics and has brought it to this woeful state. Its leaders have defined our species as everything from a “cancer” to the “AIDs of the earth.” They wail in horror at the thought that by the year 2050 there will likely be another 2 or 3 billion of these inconvenient bipeds. Leading green figures such as Britain’s Jonathan Porritt, Richard Attenborough and Lester Brown even consider baby-making a grievous carbon crime–especially, notes Australian activist Robert Short, in those “highly consumptive, greenhouse-producing nations.”

Yet a slower population growth–while beneficial for poor, developing countries–can lead to a dismal, geriatric future in already low-birthrate nations like Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, South Korea and Russia. And although birth rates are dropping in most developing countries, particularly those experiencing rapid economic growth, it will likely be decades before population stops increasing in most of the developing world.

Besides, people in developing countries have much more important things to worry about–such as earning a living and getting ahead. Fighting climate change ranks low on the list of Third World priorities. The sprawling slums of Mumbai need more energy, not less; they want better roads, not fewer. More economic development would produce the money to help clean the now foul water and air, but also provide access to better education, one of the best ways to assure more manageable birth rates.

Instead of looking to make developing countries even more dependent on Western largesse, greens should focus on ways to help improve the day-to-day lives of their people. Rather than prattle on about the coming apocalypse, they could work to replace treeless, dense slums with shaded low-lying clean houses that are easier to heat or cool. Those interested in nature might purchase land and rebuild natural areas. The children of cities like Mumbai should have the opportunity to experience wildlife other than crows, pigeons and rats.

The environmental movement also might as well forget fighting the aspirations of the burgeoning middle class in India, or other developing countries. No developing world politician, whether from democratic India or Brazil or authoritarian China will embrace an agenda that stifles such aspirations. [emphasis added]

My first post when I started this blog was about the passing of Norman Borlaug. Despite developing strains of wheat and rice that fed millions and helped lift millions more out of crushing poverty, some in the “green” movement saw this as a bad thing. Feeding people was a bad thing, as it leads to more people. To those folks, and to the modern “greens” like them, I encourage them to lead by example. Starve yourself to death if you believe in it that strongly. Or if you can arrange to have your surviving relatives recycle the bullet, make it quick for yourself.

But since that’s not going to happen (the world needs them too much, don’t you know), I guess it’s back to ignoring the Luddites and finding technological solutions for the problems we face. Care to make a bet on the Chinese and Indian contributions to said tech solutions?

Sustainability and news from the Dark Side

I had the honor to take part in a panel discussion at the University of South Carolina last week about entrepreneurship. During the discussion a bright young woman, an IMBA candidate, asked about “sustainable” products. My answer was a bit flip (“nobody cares”), but the point I was trying to make is I’ve yet to have a client who really wanted a “green” product.

We got into a discussion with other members of the group and briefly debated the recycled uses of various materials, but the consensus was that clients talk about wanting “green” products out of China but don’t want to pay for them. Ultimately, the green that matters is money.

Our Sourcing Feasibility Study (sample here) can identify suppliers that meet whatever criteria you like, including environmental criteria. But 90% of our clients pick suppliers based on price. Just my observation.

But that got me thinking about what really constitutes “green” or “sustainable” anyway. A few members of the group talked at length about recycling materials like metals and plastics, but I don’t think this should count, as people have been recycling valuable metals since time immemorial. I used the example of salvaging steel, iron, brass, lead, etc. from battlefields during the Napoleonic Wars. As any art historian knows, many of the great bronze statues were melted down to make cannon during this time.

But many “green” products strike me as a scam. The Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs that have been forced upon us by Congress just plain suck – they are expensive; they cast crappy light; they contain mercury, so you break one and need a hazmat cleanup; despite their supposed energy efficiency, I have seen no significant drop in my electricity bills; and did I mention they contain mercury, so how the heck am I supposed to dispose of the stupid thing when it burns out far ahead of schedule (as every one I’ve bought has done)? So, which savior of the planet should I thank for foisting this overpriced, under-performing, toxic “green” product on us? Should the control of Congress change hands in November, don’t be surprised if one of the first acts is repealing the incandescent bulb ban.

I remember my first encounter with “green” products was in the early 1990s while visiting family in Colorado. They used environmentally friendly dish soap, which in practice meant that you had to use half a bottle for every load of dishes washed. The stuff was environmentally friendly because it was apparently 99% water. Nearly 20 years later doesn’t look like much has changed – Cleaner for the Environment, Not for the Dishes (from the New York Times).

And as I was writing this, I just saw the polar bear commercial for the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Does anyone realize where 50% of the USA’s power comes from? Hint: It’s a black rock we burn. And the reports I’ve read about the Chinese betting big on EVs are also followed by reports about how such a move will result in LOTS more pollution. While the traffic jams in Beijing may be not quite so smoggy and saturated with ground level ozone, the net result will be more pollution from the coal-fired plants that supply most of China’s electricity.

So…remind me again what makes a “green” product?

I lived through such governmental BS in the USA heavy truck industry, but since my escape from the automotive world, I’ve tried not to think about it. So those stories will have to wait for another day.

Quick note in closing about the Dark Side (as a friend termed my switch to Mac)…my eyes have adjusted. I love the MacBook Pro and doubt I will ever go back to PC.

Late night article dump

So everyone in the office has been riding me to post more often. Of course, no one wants to do any of the heavy lifting and help. That would be too logical and…helpful.

The last two weeks have been full to the brim with visitors from central China, Hong Kong and Germany (yes really, here in Salem, VA), sales calls, and computer crashes (my God, does Microsoft suck – Apple, I’m comin’ baby).

I have some great food and travel blogging drafted, but it is 3:15 AM, and I’ve been going since 7:00 AM yesterday, so you get some random dreck, DJ-style, like the great Instapundit (and yes that’s me hoping for some linky love). I’ve been saving these up for a while, but they are still current and topical.

  • Reuters – Google phases out Microsoft Windows use: report – GOOD; Vista is a war crime and the entire Office 2007 suite should have resulted in public hangings in Redmond. How do you screw up Excel with stoopid menus? I swear they could mess up a calculator.
  • Financial Times – Rival tablets ready to bite into iPad lead – and they’re not even talking about the knock-offs you can buy on the streets of Shenzhen.
  • The Anchoress – Witnessing the heart as it cracks – UPDATED – this is now quite dated by all the other bad things that happened in the Gulf of Mexico. I only post it here to make the point whether you like Obama or not, having a President in the White House who the entire world (especially our Chinese creditors) see as an incompetent fool is not a good thing.
  • New York Times – Virus Ravages Cassava Plants in Africa – This is quite sad, as Africa has enough problems. I will be interested to see if the new colonial masters, the Chinese, come to the rescue with either aid or a scientific solution. Somehow I doubt either scenario, but I sure hope I am wrong.
  • AutoblogGreen – Study: Mass adoption of EVs in China will lead to tremendously higher emissions – It took me several minutes to stop laughing after I read this. That Law of Unintended Consequences really is a bitch. I love it when the local tree-huggers tell me about all the green technologies in use in China. I wish I had a clear photo of the street lamps on a showpiece stretch of highway from Liantang to Buji. The bulbs are fluorescent and the lamps have solar collectors and windmills! They should be totally awesomely green, right?! Except there is no consistent wind, the smog blocks out the sun and the bulbs are all broken. Other than that, they are on the right track.
  • The Telegraph (UK) – Chinese hiding three million babies a year – I know far more young people in China with siblings than the One Child Policy would suggest. Anyway, as Mike is famous for saying, “there are 1.3 billion people in China – people be ****ing.” Speaking of which…
  • The Sun (UK) – Saying Sorry to China with Sex – Well, I for one applaud the young lady for trying to heal such old and deep wounds. I mean, what have YOU done today to atone for the atrocities in Nanjing? On a similar note…
  • Good**** – China’s looming woman shortage: 5 possible consequences – this blog post is safe, but please note the site itself is NOT SAFE FOR WORK as the blog title suggests. Despite the location of this post, the point is very valid – such an imbalance (India is said to have a similar problem) is a huge flash-point as Beijing tries to control China’s rapid ascent.
  • Walter Russell Mead – Marx Awakes as China Rises – an erudite end to this post. If you don’t read Mr. Mead regularly, you should.

Actually, I have to end with some key words to boost our SEO, since that’s the original reason for this blog in the first place. So here goes:

Contract Manufacturing, Contract Packaging, Contract Assembly – rah, rah, rah, sis boom bah! Please feel free to contact me about our contract capabilities!

4:00 AM – good night, Irene.

The Big Fish

There is a great chain of Japanese restaurants in China called Tairyo, in Chinese, 大鱼, dàyú or “Big Fish”. I love Japanese food and DaYu has a simply insane deal – all you can eat, all you can drink (including beer, wine, sake, fresh fruit juices, etc.) for 150 RMB. Or about US$22.

To put that in perspective for those of you who don’t like sushi and teppanyaki, my last trip to our favorite place here in the States ran over US$100 for a very modest date night meal.

I know I have eaten and drunk over 1000 RMB worth at some of our gorge sessions. As I have written before, I have no idea how they stay in business.

What puts this in mind was this powerful piece by Reason TV, How to save a dying ocean from overfishing…, which primarily discusses the Japanese and USA role in overfishing. Those roles are well documented (for two great books on the subject, read Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and The Big Oyster).

What is not mentioned at all – and I find it quite curious – is Chinese overfishing. This has been reported on for years (see here, here and here for examples going back nearly a decade), so I find it very curious that they were omitted from the article.

In any case, I am sure the next iteration of this study will have to involve the seafood appetites of the growing Chinese middle class. One of the things I love about being in China is the exquisite seafood dishes. While a great deal of the seafood is now farmed, I know I’ve eaten wild fish, usually the daily special.

I like the concept of a market based solution as proposed in the article, and modern China is so thoroughly capitalist that such a plan would work well.

Some miscellaneous articles

Feeling lazy today. Sometimes the juices ain’t flowing. In no particular order:

Maybe get to some travel blogging tomorrow. Or not. You’ll have to check back to see.

Arrogant Americans need not apply, the decline (?) of the West and what if the Chinese stop buying US paper?

“The enemy always has problems of his own of which you are unaware.” – George C. Marshall

Not that China is necessarily our enemy, but they are certainly a competitor, and I don’t normally borrow money from my competitors. Some interesting articles covering all sides of the USA declining(?) debate and other silliness.

Sorry nothing more for today, too much catch-up from Chinese New Year.

Battle Between U.S. and China Threatens Climate Conference

Fascinating article about the politicking going on in Copenhagen. Regardless of what the greens want, China and India won’t be going along. They have too many mouths to feed. And they especially won’t be going along after Climategate and the recent Russian bombshell.

2010 should be an interesting year.

Climategate and pollution in China

I’ve written about the ghastly pollution in China before (here, here, here, here and here). With the recent bomb of “Climategate”, much of the core data supporting the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has been called into question. I am not going to get into a debate about AGW, or whether a trace gas like CO2 is something to worry about, but I am concerned that Climategate will take the the focus off the need to reduce pollution worldwide, especially in China and India.

The big immediate danger to humans in China is not a potential, theoretical increase of 1 degree Celcius, but rather toxic air, land and water. Vast amounts of coal and diesel are consumed everyday, all of it burned inefficiently in technologically primitive power plants or wretched Dong Feng trucks. No wonder so many Chinese people smoke (an estimated 70% of men); with that much soot, why the heck wouldn’t you smoke? If you don’t believe me, check out the photographs in this month’s National Geographic article on Xinjiang province (sorry for the link, but NG marks it hard to look at the pics if you don’t pay – freeze the video about 9 seconds in). I don’t know about you, but when the sky is the color of cat mess, CO2 is pretty far down on my list. And don’t get me started on the water pollution.

India has announced in advance of Copenhagen that they won’t be signing anything (heck, even Al Gore isn’t bothering to go). I am sure the Chinese will do the same. And there is no way the US Senate would ratify Copenhagen when they unanimously voted down Kyoto.

From my perspective, worrying about what might happen years from now and proposing fantastically expensive fixes to what may not be happening, detracts from practical efforts to mitigate what IS happening right now. I don’t need a climate model to tell me the Asian Brown Cloud is real – I can see it, smell it and taste it (*cough*).

China cutting capacity

This is just too funny

OK, so I’m feeling lazy today, but there really isn’t anything I can add to this (from Popular Science):

China’s Weather Manipulation Brings Crippling Snowstorm to Beijing

By Clay Dillow Posted 11.11.2009 at 6:08 pm
Forecast for Beijing: Cloudy The Chinese government employs the controversial practice of cloud seeding in an attempt to force precipitation in and around Beijing.

In The People’s Republic of China, it’s no secret that the Party controls just about everything. But as Beijing suffers through its second major snowstorm this season, residents are growing weary of their leadership’s control-freak tendencies. After all, while the storm came as a surprise to residents, the government knew about it all along. In fact, the government caused it.

China has long tinkered with Mother Nature’s waterworks, even establishing a state organ — the Beijing Weather Modification Office — whose sole purpose is to meddle with the weather. The purpose behind weather modification is less megalomaniacal than it sounds at first pass; a large swath of northeast China, including Beijing, has been mired in a drought for nearly a decade, and the party leadership would like to reverse that trend for both practical reasons and to show the Chinese people exactly who is in charge.

To do so, they’ve turned to cloud seeding, a controversial practice that involves launching (or dropping) chemicals into the atmosphere — silver iodide in China, though dry ice and liquid propane also work — that cause water vapor in the air to crystallize at temperatures it otherwise would not. Its effectiveness is dubious; while it’s generally accepted that it works to some degree, it can only increase precipitation by 20 percent. Sometimes.

Weather manipulation is actually not as rare as one might think. Currently, 24 countries practice some kind of cloud seeding. Moscow’s mayor keeps the Russian Air Force on cloud seeding duty to make sure it never rains on his parades (literally). The U.S. has dabbled with weather manipulation in attempts to curb the intensity of Gulf hurricanes back in the ’60s, and the military seeded clouds over North Vietnam during the war there to extend the monsoon season. Oh, and the CIA seeded clouds in 1969 in an attempt to rain out the hippies gathering at Woodstock, but they partied right through it anyhow (that instance is unconfirmed, but groovy to think about).

China prefers to deliver its silver iodide to the sky via rockets or artillery. For the residents of Beijing, those armaments deliver all the headaches that go along with big snowstorms: traffic problems, flight delays, cancelled classes and various transportation issues. While the government claims the seeding is for the good of the country, that claim is about as dubious as the practice of seeding itself; in 2005, a snow melting agent killed 10,000 trees in Beijing, and experts worry it could be eroding the city’s infrastructure. As of last night, highways in and around Beijing were closed and many roads were blocked, bringing day-to-day commerce to a grinding halt.