Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Power of Green Power

In Sunday's New York Times Magazine, journalist Thomas Friedman wrote (and talked in a video) about The Power of Green , which I highly recommend.

He talks about the new "Green" that is a positive economic force, which was right along the lines of a conversation I had with my son today. He had just written an article called Hummer vs Prius on his blog, which ends up in a very reasonable conclusion (we don't always agree on these things!) He believes that economic forces will manage to save the planet, where I (and Thomas Friedman) think that a little nudge of policy would help get things moving.

At any rate, we all know we can't stop China and India from economic growth, which means millions of new middle class people wanting cars and all the other materialistic things none of us want to give up! But who says that their materialistic things have to be as polluting and energy consuming as ours? They might as well learn from our mistakes and get the really good life.

What I didn't mention to my Libertarian son was that China is in a great position to do this, with its totalitarian background. They don't need to convince 2 parties in 2 houses of Congress (not to mention the President) to do the right thing, they can just declare it. Already, vehicle standards in China are said to be so high that Ford and GM can't sell American models there. Maybe if they got their act together, they could find a whole new market for hybrid American vehicles.

Organizations like Environmental Defense are working with the Chinese government to bring solar power as fast as possible (which can be brought online much faster than CO2 belching coal fired plants.) Just see this list of Solar businesses in China to see what a little government influence can do.

Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark has received a large order for China and established a local blade factory, showing that business can work with a totalitarian government and convince it to do the right thing.

Now if the US government had signed the Kyoto agreement, maybe we would have seen Ford, GM and American wind and solar factories in China. A little nudge from the government would have helped.

No comments: