Saturday, December 30, 2006

I'm only writing about it now but last month Thomas Friedman wrote a column about China's worsening pollution problem. (Pollution and saving the planet seems to be Friedman's preferred subjects of late, before he likely becomes bored and moves on to some other attention-grabbing topic).

In the column, Friedman states that "three big shifts will be needed" if China hopes to reverse this form of neglect that is literally choking the country. The first shift involves simply not just building hundreds of additional coal-fired plants, but rather to stress innovation and efficiency. By conserving power where possible, capacity is freed up and less polluting plants need to be built. Money is saved and there is no cost to or drag on the economy; in fact quite the opposite.

The next shift involves enforcement. It's not enough to just have well-meaning targets or regulations. There must be stiff repercussions that are stringently enforced. This area is very weak in China but needless to say, it's dropped off considerably in our country over the last six years.

The final shift involves awareness, implying the public needs to always be clued in on what's going on. Facts -- not propaganda -- based on sound science must be conveyed, widely. Education on the problems must exist and be encouraged to proliferate. Again, in the U.S. this area has taken several severe blows from this administration over the last few years.

Enough with the tired right-wing line that tackling pollution comes with too high a toll on the economy. It's bullcrap. In fact, China's mess costs the country over $200 billion (yes, billion) per year.

We're all in this together. China's pollution effects us and our neighboring countries, and vice versa with our pollution.

One day, China may be cleaner than us on a per capita basis, and that will be good for them but truly a sad statement about us.

No comments: