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Can China Save the Planet?


Can China Save the Planet?

Craig K. Comstock

Lack of foresight isn’t new in politics. As John F. Kennedy wrote in Why England Slept (1940), that country had snoozed through the rise of, and German rearmament under, Adolf Hitler. Until the European war began, the British government, ill prepared to fight, hoped desperately for peace. (Kennedy’s father was U.S. ambassador there.) Following the Nazi blitz against London, the United Kingdom was rescued after the U.S. got into the war, prompted by the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


“Part of the problem is that nearly all of the public doesn’t understand the difference between the usual exaggeration of politicians and the normal professional caution of scientists.”

. . . nearly all of the public doesn’t understand . . . . . . nearly all of the public doesn’t understand . . . . . . nearly all of the public doesn’t understand . . .

Words of hope. I am being directed to Friedrich Nietzsche . . . Hi Fred!

(I don’t think you understand.)


With an economy based on growth where people labor all of their lives to produce goods for others to consume and then dispose off and where those people then retire and are supported in part by the next generation of workers , China already looks at the need to “grow the population”. The system by design needs growth everywhere. The system is predicated on growing markets and growing pools of labor.

They can not save the planet as long as their economy and policies are built aroung the Mantra of Infinite growth. They can not save the planet as long as their economy built around the concept of COMPETITION for markets and resources.


Well, that would be nice.

They do have some advantages in that direction. They have a very large economy and population. They have relatively abundant rainfall over most of the country, which is an aid to agriculture. They have a tremendous river system that can be harvested to generate electricity–though attempts to do so with massive hydroelectric plants have been problematic there, as elsewhere. They have had successful large-scale recuperations of ancient farmland (in the Loess Plateau, as documented by John D. Liu). And their military expenditures are mostly geared to providing deterrent, not inflaming intercontinental wars and infecting the society with the kind of cultural dunderheadedness that comes with all that.

On the other hand, almost any large-scale response to ecological catastrophe must at some point involve pushing the United States and the international Dollar economy off of the pinnacle of empire so that most of the world is freer to resolve its problems. For that, key action has to take place within the US and Europe.


I agree mostly with what you say, there’re people who talk about growth all the time. Sadly, they learned that from the United States, but like this country there’re also voices that search for sustainable growth. It’s encouraging that the Chinese leadership is already questioning the path taken by previous administrations, as orders went out to respect environmental concerns in any new megaproject. I’m impressed by the thousands of new solar power installations over what were former wastelands, ponds, and deserts instead of arable land in that country. The emphasis on service industries will also reduce pollution. So practical measures taken during the last few years do suggest a new direction, a possible turning away from the doctrine of endless growth. This new thinking will take hold faster if more people, especially Americans, propagate true socialism not only for themselves, but for the rest of the world. We in Commondreams can be the vanguard of this movement, and support the election of congressional candidates that reject the failed philosophy of neoliberal capitalism.