2007-02-10

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Pollution in China, already at disastrous levels, is growing faster than anyone could possibly control it. English Der Spiegel article on China And what are we doing? Investing money into the "emerging markets", feeling disappointed when they don't reach our 30% p.a. growth expectations. Poisoning themselves to death is alright as long as we profit and the dirt stays on the other side of the globe. Now that the first clouds drift over Europe and Japan people at least start noticing... China is expected to trump the biggest current polluter, the US, in the very near future. I bet you a thousand carbon credits that will be used as an excuse to pollute even more, not less. The argument you hear even now goes something like this: Why should I cut back on my emissions or my environmental footprint - look at them, they are even worse than me! If I change, that won't make a difference anyways. You'd think this argument is so obviously flawed noone would fall for it. Yet at the same time you hear it again and again. People driving their fucking cars everywhere because "what difference does my Prius make compared to his evil SUV?" I don't need to change my habits. Not me. Not me. By this logic you can justify any crime because there'll always be one that is worse... There is an analysis of this phenomenon in mathematical game theory: Cooperation would be for the net benefit of everyone, yet it's for your own short term benefit not to cooperate and thus it never works. Unfortunately nature suffers from exactly this phenomenon. For the global good of the planet nations should be able to agree on environmental policy yet it's in everyone's short term interest to let "the others do it" and boost the local economy instead. Everyone will cry foul at China once we finally reach the tipping point. Yet they are only repeating our mistakes. If we were allowed to make them and if we have the right to our standards of living - why shouldn't they? It's gonna get real nasty once the roles reverse - imagine the reckless USA having to play economic catch up with China. Uh oh. A new coal fired power plant per week - I bet you we'll be building nuclear power plants by the dozen in the name of ecology and green energy before I turn 35. Just so we stop the immediate threat. Us fucking hypocrits.