08
Feb
10

“Critically important policies needed to move a society forward”

That’s what Thomas Friedman said the PRC’s government could, to its apparent advantage, “just impose” upon a country that isn’t just not ungovernable but also “committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.”  It sure sounds good: without NIMBYing idiots like Ted Kennedy fucking up the works, the PRC can put wind farms and fission plants wherever they please, generating petawatt-hour after petawatt-hour of clean electricity to make sure Joel Epstein’s beloved high-speed trains run on time.  It’s a technocratic wet dream: wise and benevolent leadership gently but firmly Doing What Needs Doing over the short-sighted clamouring of the ignorant masses.

Now, something curious happens in the brains of arrogant grass-eating watermelons like Friedman and Epstein when they hear the word “electricity”.  The underlying reality of watts, amps, and volts disappears from view, and “electricity” becomes a sort of magical talisman harking back to the space-age future imagined by Disney’s Tomorrowland before it got all grimy and scratched-up under the grease-smeared thumbs of millions of children.  It becomes synonymous with clean, friendly, comfortingly opaque technological appliances like the iPhone (when it’s working) or the starship Enterprise (when it’s working).  But back here in the harsh light of reality, electricity doesn’t issue from the hindquarters of unicorns:

(Hat tip: The Smallest Minority)

Under the deal, the firm will build a new mining complex to give China Power International Development (CPI) 30m tonnes of coal a year for 20 years.

[…]

Most of China’s power stations rely on coal – and demand has risen sharply in recent months after a government stimulus programme re-energised its economy.

Here in the real world, autocrats aren’t benevolent and enlightened.

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