Opinion, Berkeley Blogs

Will the future be 'Made in China'?

By Dan Farber

Thomas Friedman’s column warns that, while we’re dithering about climate action, the Chinese are forging ahead in the energy field:

What a contrast. In a year that’s on track to be our planet’s hottest on record, America turned “climate change” into a four-letter word that many U.S. politicians won’t even dare utter in public. If this were just some parlor game, it wouldn’t matter. But the totally bogus “discrediting” of climate science has had serious implications. For starters, it helped scuttle Senate passage of the energy-climate bill needed to scale U.S.-made clean technologies, leaving America at a distinct disadvantage in the next great global industry. And that brings me to the contrast: While American Republicans were turning climate change into a wedge issue, the Chinese Communists were turning it into a work issue.

. . . . China’s leaders would never go a year (like we will) without energy legislation mandating new ways to do more with less. It’s a three-for-one shot for them. By becoming more energy efficient per unit of G.D.P., China saves money, takes the lead in the next great global industry and earns credit with the world for mitigating climate change.

America used to be a place where the future happened first.  Now we seem to fight any kind of change, whether the issue is immigration, health care, the financial system, or energy.  I hope it’s not too late for us to once again become a world leader.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet, a Berkeley Law-UCLA Law collaboration.