China: Have the Greens Ever Heard of It?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The rhetorical question above answers itself, so let's take a gander at a recent piece at Issues and Insights, which takes as its point of departure this finding in a study from China:

[M]ore than half of the world's urban greenhouse gas emissions are generated in only 25 big cities, and 23 of them are located in China. [link omitted]
Not a single city of these top 25 is in the United States.

The piece goes on, drawing a parallel between China's roles in global warming climate change "the climate crisis" and plastic debris in the ocean -- another thing Americans are constantly being pestered about:
Image by Mike Marrah, via Unsplash, license.
The data show 90% of ocean plastic pours into the sea from "the top 10 rivers with the highest loads" of plastic debris, according to the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. None are in the U.S., which contributes only about 1% percent of all plastic debris found at sea. Eight of them though are in Asia, while two are in Africa.

While it provides useful information, the Sun Yat-sen study isn't a shocking revelation. We've known for at least a decade that while agitators campaigned to force developed economies to eliminate fossil fuel use, China and India have been busy building hundreds of coal plants in an effort to spread the First World prosperity that the climate alarmists have enjoyed their entire lives. Late last year, the Canadian Energy Centre, affiliated with the Alberta government, reported that as of 2020, 350 coal-fired power plants were under construction worldwide. Seven were in South Korea, another 13 in Japan. But China and India were building 184 and 52 plants, respectively. [links omitted]
One minor correction is in order: Whatever component of the waste in the oceans ultimately wound up there from the U.S. quite likely came from recycling programs: Until recently, China and other Asian countries bought our plastic waste and then failed to landfill what they didn't use as chemical feedstocks. Much of that ends up in rivers, unlike anything that is buried in a well-contructed landfill.

If ever there was a case for leave it in the ground -- or at least in this case, put it there, plastic waste -- and not the fuel that we need -- fits the bill.

But back to whatever the left is currently calling its crusade for myopically blaming the West for everything, turning a blind eye to the rest of the world, and cajoling the West into suicide: Either the catastrophist left has never heard of China, or it doesn't care about such facts.

The corollary questions all of us should ask: (1) Why take advice from someone with such breathtaking ignorance? Or (2) Why take advice from someone who is blatantly concerned with only one fact: Whether we are obeying them or not.

And do note we are being charitable here: We haven't even asked them to explain why they regard reducing fossil fuel use is on balance a good thing, which is highly questionable, to say the least.

-- CAV


Dinwar said...

I'm glad to see more people pushing back on this! I've said this exact thing for ages, yet am often dismissed as a crackpot.

The reality is that Environmentalism is a form of conspicuous spending. A culture needs to have a certain amount of affluence to engage in it. Once it does there are real benefits--see logging in the USA, where sustainable harvests are the point and as a side benefit the local wildlife has fantastic habitat, vs Brazil, where slash-and-burn farming is still practiced. But if you as a culture are still worried about the basic survival of your citizens you're not going to waste the time, effort, or money it requires. This stuff isn't cheap.

It's like the pre-pandemic minimalism fad. It looks fantastic, but it only works if you've got enough money to not worry about making significant purchases on an as-needed basis. Once you accomplish that level of affluence minimalism saves a ton of money; getting to that point isn't easy, though.

The absolute best thing we can do for maintaining a healthful planet with plenty of biodiversity is to increase the standard of living of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Once they're free to live as human beings, instead of animals on the verge of starvation, almost everyone strives to make their homes pleasant and healthy.

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "Either the catastrophist left has never heard of China, or it doesn't care about such facts." Having edited a long thesis on the "proper" ethical approach to "climate change" policies, I can assure that in many cases, of course it's the latter. The arguments are that since industrial nations caused it (and its catastrophic effects are of course well established by climate science, so they can be accepted as gospel), by justice they have to remedy it; the fact that these facts weren't known in the past is no excuse because reasons (or rather one of several "principles"); and Europe and the US got especially rich off them, so they have a particular responsibility to bleed themselves financially and technologically to make sure the catastrophic effects are avoided. China is problematic in continuing to claim developing nation status while being the greatest greenhouse gas emitter in the world (though as it's not so yet on a per capita basis, this point is a little iffy to the green-dyed ones), but as it has a national interest in reducing poverty, the West might shouldn't go on about that so much as it does, especially since China makes lots of pretty noises about carbon neutrality by 2060. And as an off-the-cuff sop to those still checking the facts against reality, stop complaining about the effects on industry because green technologies will usher in paradise.

As Rand said, morality trumps all else by our nature as conceptual beings, and the morality they accept is thoroughly altruist and collectivist. (On a personal note, since I'm just an editor, it usually doesn't bother me to edit stuff I disagree with--often, in fact, ideas I abhor I am more than happy to edit into crystal clarity so that those opposed to them have a clearer target. But man oh man, this job was just so infuriating that I was grumbling for hours afterwards. But as it sets out quite clearly exactly how one group of its proponents, the ones taking a "human rights" as opposed to an "individual rights" approach [and there are others briefly mentioned that are of course even more anti-human], argue and think, it's a valuable overview for anyone opposing them, and if the argument wins by default, poor editing and other lame obstructionism of the sort Capt. Cully and his ilk consider the height of intellectual campaigning wouldn't have done anything worthwhile to have stopped it.)

Gus Van Horn said...


You raise an interesting point that often shows up: Although man's proper purpose is his own happiness and the socio-political system that best enables us to achieve it is capitalism, it is also, as a by-product often better at achieving the aims the left claims to be working toward, such as: alleviating poverty, ensuring peace, and, yes, having a pleasant and safe environment.


Your comment on editing nonsense reminded me of an annoyance I had today. My favorite grocery chain reminded me of your typical proselytizing Bible-thumper by recently launching a recycling campaign. Like nobody by now hasn't heard the Good News, I though as I rolled my eyes after seeing one of the bags, which made the brilliant and original suggestion to use less and recycle.

Our culture is so saturated with this crap that it's mostly noise. It's not like you're helping the next Immanuel Kant destroy what's left of the West with an evil philosophy nobody has yet heard of!


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "It's not like you're helping the next Immanuel Kant destroy what's left of the West with an evil philosophy nobody has yet heard of!"

Having read the man rather more than I care to think back on, all I can say is, what he needed most was a good editor, in lieu of a good thrashing. (I've read--dunno how accurate it is--that some German philosophers read Kant in English translation because the English, while painful, is easier to follow than the German.)

Gus Van Horn said...

Whether editing would have helped Kant might be as good a question as it is a funny one.

Gus Van Horn said...

Past a certain point, that is...

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "Whether editing would have helped Kant might be as good a question as it is a funny one."

Heh, true. I guess it comes down to, helped him to what ends?