Tom Friedman: The New Sputnik

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.

What do we know about necessity? It is the mother of invention. And when China decides it has to go green out of necessity, watch out. You will not just be buying your toys from China. You will buy your next electric car, solar panels, batteries and energy-efficiency software from China.

I believe this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite. That launch stunned us, convinced President Eisenhower that the U.S. was falling behind in missile technology and spurred America to make massive investments in science, education, infrastructure and networking — one eventual byproduct of which was the Internet.

Well, folks. Sputnik just went up again: China’s going clean-tech. The view of China in the U.S. Congress — that China is going to try to leapfrog us by out-polluting us — is out of date. It’s going to try to out-green us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaChina

Posted September 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. tgs wrote:

Yes Tom. What we need to do is abandon the Constitution and set up a slightly liberalized communist regime (which we are already well on the way to doing) and we’ll be wonderful just like China. I can’t wait.                                   

Of course, what we really need is get the government out of the way so the free market can work and then we’ll see just how well a controlled Chinese economy compares to a free American economy. My bet is that an American free market wins hands down. I really can’t wait for that.

September 29, 11:02 pm | [comment link]
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