Saturday, September 09, 2006

The changing face of China

The Economist magazine this week has a special report on global warming, which is alarming, no so much in what it says, but the fact that it says it at all. Like McCain's conversion to the possibility, and the plausibility of global warming, a member of the opposition (now I use this loosely, The Economist is perhaps THE best and most sensible media outlet that exists in the main steram media today) acknowledges the threat. And if that threat is plausible, how does one act?

In one of the articles it talks about how China will become the number one emitter of greenhouse gases by 2015.

in 1999, I had the opportunity to travel to China and backpack in the rural areas. During that time especially in the big cities, I was in Beijing, I remembered what a freeway was, it were paths full of bicyclists. The opening line of the article in The Economist was this:

"THE few remaining cyclists in Beijing risk death one way or another. If the city's 4m cars, jammed onto the multiplying ringroads and flyovers, do not get them, the polluted air will. It is so thick that you cannot see the sun, even on a sunny day."

Now much of the pollution in Beijing can be attributed to electricity production, but the same observation hit me when I was in Beijing earlier this year. The counterpoint to Beijing in our modern era may be Amsterdam, where bicycles remain a staple of life even in a developed country. The could be part of the Dutch psyche, but it examines what is possible. However, bicycles are not much loved or loved too much in Amsterdam, where they say the average bike has been stolen five times.


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