Okay first: Where have I been? It’s too complicated to answer and retain anonymity, so suffice it to say: “away”. Thanks for all the e-mails over the past month asking for posts again.
An item in Science caught my eye yesterday: Revolutionizing China’s Environmental Protection. I’m sure you all know about China’s problems. If you don’t, click on that link and read on (it’s only two pages). It is the following sentence that caught my eye, though:
Economic performance is still China’s main or sole criterion for selecting and promoting government leaders
And that’s different from here how? Environment has always been near the bottom of the list of things voters actually consider when choosing a candidate here in the US unless there is a major local problem (Fallon, NV, for instance). We of the enlightened west let it get this far before doing anything about it, and frankly, an EPA that has failed to ban asbestos seems nothing to set as shining example. In fact, if you lift this other part of the article:
Although more than 100 environmental laws and regulations exist in China, they are often ignored by local government leaders. The maximum fines allowed for environmental violations are so small that polluting enterprises prefer paying the fines to adopting environmentally friendly technologies. Because environmental protection agencies lack the money, staff, and power to override local leaders and to shut down polluters, many environmental regulations are not enforced.
it sure sounds familar doesn’t it? This isn’t to say our situation isn’t better; it is, we’ve been at it longer, our citizens and press are louder, our government much less corrupt. China’s situation is an environmental disaser waiting to happen every day (and many days it does). It’s important to remember, however, when China suppresses their green GDP report because they don’t want anyone to know the true scale of the problem, that we don’t even commission a green GDP analysis. So maybe we shouldn’t throw rocks from a glass house, nice as it is. Or maybe we should just start aiming a few at this side of the Pacific as well.