Saturday, 8 October 2011

Greenhouse sceptics as a carryover from Stalinism in China?

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald, there is some strange news that it is not only Australia where greenhouse sceptics have tremendous political influence. I outline in the link the fact that greenhouse sceptics are more often than not ordinary working people who would suffer a great deal from serious moves to reduce greenhouse emissions and believe adaptation is cheaper and more efficient than mitigation. The trouble with this view is that adaptation is very likely to make the problem worse, especially in a nation like Australia possessing a surfeit of fossil fuel resources.

What the Sydney Morning Herald is surprisingly showing is that in formerly Stalinist China, despite privatisation and extremely rapid economic growth, greenhouse sceptics may have more influence in academia than they do in Australia:
"Global warming is a bogus proposition," says Zhang Musheng, one of China's most influential intellectuals and a close adviser to a powerful and hawkish general in the People's Liberation Army, Liu Yuan.

Mr Zhang told the Herald that global warming was an American ruse to sell green energy technology and thereby claw its way out of its deep structural economic problems.
According to another Australian source, Zhang is a "left leaning" intellectual. If this is remotely true, it suggests that for all its rapid economic growth, China remains in many ways a fundamentally Stalinist nation whereby the interests of a dictatorial ruling class dominate despite growth of a type Mao Zedong could never have wanted or even imagined. What the ruling class of China will do in the future is an interesting question given the country's demographic decline as outlined by The Economist in Graysia a month ago. It may make it hard for China to adapt new technology, especially with such an old population and extreme scarcity of flat land. China is also turning to the much-discredited policy of farm subsidies to stabilise its economy: Beijing now pays more in farm subsidies than even France or Germany. As I outlined with Japan here, this may be a key cause of its low birth rate since removing farm subsidies would permit construction of affordable housing.

Still, once China's population falls into free-fall, one cannot say even a China that lags behind Europe in efficiency is a threat to the planet's ecosystems as an Australia with a pacified working class and a surfeit of fossil fuels.

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