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Monday, February 16, 2009

Anecdotal: China Beating U.S. on Alternative Energy Innovation

A little note for my Policy friends debating the alternative-energy resolution: Thomas Friedman's latest NYTimes column provides an illuminating anecdote on international competitiveness in putting alternative energy to work. While attending the Energy and Resources Institute's climate conference in New Dehli, Friedman is propositioned by two American women half his age (tell me you wouldn't want to be Thomas Friedman) who offer to drive him around New Dehli in their plug-in/solar car:

We head off down Panchsheel Marg, one of New Delhi’s main streets. The ladies want to show me something. The U.S. Embassy and the Chinese Embassy are both located on Panchsheel, directly across from each other. They asked me to check out the rooftops of each embassy. What do I notice? Let’s see ... The U.S. Embassy’s roof is loaded with antennae and listening gear. The Chinese Embassy’s roof is loaded with ... new Chinese-made solar hot-water heaters.

You couldn’t make this up.

I wonder if the Chinese have a translation for "Drill, baby, drill!" They probably don't need one.


  1. One thing you aren't seeing here. The US has more cars per capita than I daresay China does, and most of these run on oil. Maybe we can get O to buy us all new cars (and I don't mean his piddly rebate in this stimulus), I mean he thinks money grows on trees so he can buy us all these Chinese cars and we can dump our old oil cars. Fact: We can't transition to no oil overnight, and during the transition which will be long, we need oil. We can either drill for our own and use our own God-given resources, or we can be dependent on foreign nations. That's pretty simple.

  2. Always that phrase, God-given resources, as if the Lord smiles on overconsumption, greed, and policy inertia. While Anon makes excuses, China is preparing for the future.

  3. Is China really beating us? Does it matter? We should devote as much of our energy (NPI) as possible to developing alternative technologies, no matter what China or any other country does.

    This is not a race against other nations. This is a race against Nature's clock, which favors no nation, no race, no species over another ...

  4. "We can't transition to no oil overnight, and during the transition which will be long, we need oil."

    OVERNIGHT?? Do the words "oil embargo" mean anything to you? We've been having this discussion for over 30 YEARS! That's not overnight. We should be MUCH further down the alternative energy highway than we are right now. We've been piddling around long enough.

    Rent "Who Killed the Electric Car" sometime, and you'll see what I mean.

  5. I stand by my statement that we are going to need oil for quite a long time to come. Almost everyone has a car or access to one, buses, taxis, whatever you need to live and work. And I don't see that tomorrow I can go out and buy a new gas-less car, especially in this economic time even if it were available. Unless, like I said, O would decide to stimulate me with one.

    And who do you think put the resources on earth for us to use? Yes, we need to conserve, we need to develop alternative energy, but we also need to use the resources of this earth that we need. There's nothing wrong with using oil. There's a lot left. Eventually we will find some other source of energy to free us from oil, but that time isn't here yet, and it's irresponsible not to use what we already have in our own country and off our own shores.

  6. Anon, you do make good points. We certainly won't get off of fossil fuels (NPI) this year, or even the year after this, or even in the next decade. But we will, because we must. I support efforts to that end -- to the extent the taxpayers are willing to bear the burden. (There is a limit to taxpayer tolerance, and I suspect that we'll come up against it pretty soon.) Of course, private enterprise is always there to do what the taxpayer can't, or won't. We are, after all, America!

    Cory, keep these alternative energy posts coming. I'm in the process of buying a plot of land in Wyoming (you got the lake, I got the mountains) where the sun and wind play without end, along with the deer and the antelope. Maybe you can motivate me to build an energy-independent house out there and get one of those $25,000 electric vehicles that look like space ships. (Yes, Anon, you can buy one right now!). Some days, I could put a sail on it and return from Cody to my little ranch cabin along the Greybull highway powered only by a gale-force breeze. A wind turbine could charge it for the next trip in to the Quad Center ...

    I'm getting energized! Keep zapping me.

  7. One word on your Wyoming project, Stan: Earthship!


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