Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Two countries heading in opposite directions. Them:

China Racing Ahead of U.S. in the Drive to Go Solar

President Obama wants to make the United States "the world's leading exporter of renewable energy,” but in his seven months in office, it is China that has stepped on the gas in an effort to become the dominant player in green energy -- especially in solar power, and even in the United States.

Chinese companies have already played a leading role in pushing down the price of solar panels by almost half over the last year. Shi Zhengrong, the chief executive and founder of China’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, said in an interview here that Suntech, to build market share, is selling solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.

Backed by lavish government support, the Chinese are preparing to build plants to assemble their products in the United States to bypass protectionist legislation....

Since March, Chinese governments at the national, provincial and even local level have been competing with one another to offer solar companies ever more generous subsidies, including free land, and cash for research and development. State-owned banks are flooding the industry with loans at considerably lower interest rates than available in Europe or the United States....


The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.

Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect....

The goal of the chamber, which represents 3 million large and small businesses, is to fend off potential emissions regulations by undercutting the scientific consensus over climate change. If the EPA denies the request, as expected, the chamber plans to take the fight to federal court....

I'm not being dewy-eyed about this. China is still a totalitarian nation with low wages and dangerous work conditions. It's a huge polluter. And it's seeking to dump solar panels overseas to build market share.

But it's doing all these things in response to a real need for alternate energy sources. Our fat cats? They're actively courting a mass state of denial.

I can't quite imagine that they'll get this trial to happen under the EPA's aegis. But when it doesn't happen, I assume they'll go to Fox News and talk radio and anti-science loons in Congress and whine that the truth is being suppressed. They'll get something to happen. They're going to set the terms of the debate on climate legislation just the way lobbyist-led know-nothings have set the terms of the heath-care debate this summer. And even though scientific consensus is against them, they've got the money -- you'd be crazy to bet against them in this fight.

Because God forbid we should consider the possibility that dealing with climate change (and dependence on foreign oil) might be an opportunity for business. God forbid we should see it as a national challenge, in a JFK/space race way. God forbid we should acknowledge reality. Better to stay stupid (and leave fat cats to their happy little Reaganite status quo) as history passes us by.

(Chamber of Commerce story via Zandar Versus the Stupid.)

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