Friday, November 11, 2011

"Don't believe the hype"

I posted an article a couple days ago about China's plans for recycling. It was from the state newspaper, China Daily, and stated:
China will put in place a "complete and advanced" system to recycle 70 percent of major waste products by 2015, according to a recent official document.
The system should feature a complete waste collection network, advanced technologies, well-functioning sorting and standard management, read the guideline posted on the central government's website Friday.
"Major waste products" in the guideline include metal, paper, plastic, glass, tires, cars and electronic devices. (See China to recycle 70% of waste products by 2015)
  I then walked to class and saw this:

The new recycling bins that have been placed around the city next to the typical small, private enterprise for collecting waste. The operator of this cart is lucky if he can beat all of the elderly people who rifle through these cans for anything of value.

When I got home, a friend of mine from high school had commented on the story, "Don't believe the hype." Fair enough, but goals and hopes are what make a nation successful and great.

U.S. clean energy development failure belies a lack of vision. I would love to see the United States say that it plans to replace 70% of its nuclear, coal and natural gas plants with with renewable energy and conservation & efficiency programs, even if it was just hype. It takes a lot of inertia to move a government, even one run by a small number of people, to make such grand pronouncements.

Today, the New York Times reports, "Chinese solar panel manufacturers, which had virtually no presence in the American market three years ago, now hold more than half of it" (U.S. and China on Brink of Trade War Over Solar Power Industry) My reaction, as an American, should be, "The damn Chinese are gaming the system!" Instead, I applaud them for recognizing that getting America hooked on solar is critical and they should use almost any means necessary to implement their national policy goals of reducing anthropogenic carbon output across the globe. It would be great if the US had similar goals and pursued them with abandon.

Solar energy now contributes only about one-tenth of 1 percent of American electricity. My final thought is that this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. Why are we getting into a trade war with our biggest trading partner over one-tenth of 1 percent of American electricity production?