Another ramble in the river of news…

– I’m on the brink of departing for New Zealand. Most of the packing’s done. Most of the have-to-do chores are completed. Three more days and I fly. First to Southern California to visit my son, Dan, and his family there and then onto New Zealand to arrive on the 13th.

– I’ve got that strange feeling I always get in the days before I take a big trip. Like a freight train’s approaching and I’m going to be swept away into a travel machine and for 24 hours, my life will be ordained. Oh, I want to go, no doubt, but there is something disquieting about putting yourself into the hands of the airlines to get you to the other side of the world. It’s like becoming one can in a vast assembly line of cans – and all the machinery is whirling around you. And then “POP”, out you come on the other end.

– But, now for something completely different and really strange – the news (or at least some bits and pieces of it).

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I read the other day about the recent Party Congress meeting in China in which they decide the country’s newest directions and priorities. They’ve unveiled a new determination to redefine the country’s model of economic growth and said that the country needs to “build an ecological civilisation”. It’s an amazingly forward looking thing for the leaders of a major nation like China to declare that they are going to steer their nation into a responsible course ecologically.

But, the bottom line isn’t talking-the-talk, it’s walking-the-walk and that’s probably where these goals will falter. China’s leaders can barely keep the lid on the place now as they try to balance the growth and affluence of the coastal cities against the massive poverty in the hinterlands. And in China today, what the central leaders say in many cases is not nearly as important or significant as what the mid-level local leaders do or don’t do in terms of implementing central government policy. Idealism from on-high sounds good but local greed and immediate gratification is far more persuasive in most cases.

And to see how bad things are in China and just how badly we all need them to reform for all of our sakes, consider these two articles about the immorality of China’s current coal policies: and .

Some time ago I heard about what Thomas Friedman in the The New Times called “The China Price“. I think the concept is as true today as when I first heard it. China’s decisions, short of a major major internal shake-up are and will be driven by profit and advantage. He said:

The China Price is basically what China pays now for coal-fired electricity. China is much too driven by various factors to consider energy sources that would cost them more than the China Price. So, if the world cannot come up with clean energy sources that are cheaper than the China Price, then it is very unlikely China that will use them. And without China onboard the environmental movement, it isn’t likely the world will be able to stem the tide of global change now bearing down on us. So the China Price is a critical piece in the puzzle before us.

So, while we’re all nattering away about recycling, carbon credits and biofuels,China is still charging full-bore into a coal-fired coal-dependent future and she’s big enough that where she goes – we go.

And, for desert, consider this: and .

Off in another direction, Anup Shah, who writes the fine Blog, Global Issues, wrote about Press Freedom. I found it an interesting article as it ranked various nations with regard to the freedom of their press. I like rankings like this. I’ve been partial for sometime to another ranking system which sorts out the countries of the world with regard to corruption. And the, finally, there are sites which provide all sorts of useful graphic representations of of world: and

Here in the US, we are in an interesting position. The federal government under the current administration doesn’t think there is a global environmental crises in-progress so it’s been left to smaller units of American government to try to take up the slack until we have a change of federal administration. Here in the Seattle area, more than 100 US mayors are attending a summit to share and develop policies aimed at tackling climate change. Heartening no doubt and I applaud them – but, I haven’t forgotten “The China Price”.

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– Well, that’s the end of this ramble. I still have a lot of loose ends to tie up before I fly.

Cheers!

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