"Leave Us Alone; China Pollutes Too."

Act 2:  From the Wilderness' Peak Oil Blog

Jenna Orkin


When my son was twelve, he wanted to be a magician.  As he underwent his sorcerer's apprenticeship, I picked up some tips.  Rule number one was, when you're doing your sleight of hand, make sure the audience is looking somewhere else.

So it is with this morning's front page article in the New York Times about the pollution resulting from burning coal in China.

I'm not saying it's not a Godawful mess over there or that the mess won't spread itself around the globe.  But when, as the article asserts about 9/10 of the way in, "the average American still consumes more energy and is responsible for the release of 10 times as much carbon dioxide as the average Chinese," isn't our focus on China a case of the pot calling the kettle black? 

Not to sound like a fortune cookie but in long articles, it pays to check out the last line:

"China is using subsidies to make its energy even cheaper, a strategy that is not unfamiliar to Americans, said Kenneth Lieberthal, a China specialist at the University of Michigan. 'They have done in many ways,' he said, 'what we have done.'"

Which brings to mind the last scene of Washington Square (or was it The Heiress?) in which the heiress sits unmoved upstairs while the suitor who once rejected her bangs on the door begging to be forgiven and let in.

"How can you be so cruel?" her companion says.

She replies, "I have learned from masters."

China has learned from a master which is the United States.  We showed the rest of the world the 'good life' and now we act affronted that they're going after it. 

China's pollution is horrendous, as the many protests around the country attest.  The point is, why are we focussing so much attention on that rather than on our own back yard?