The Chinese Century, the Russian World and the Climate Catastrophe – Criticism
Besides a number of approving or grateful comments on the Global Review article „The Chinese Century, the Russian World and the Climate Catastrophe“ such as from ex-NATO General Domroese jr („Thank you very much, Mr. Ostner. I had not read yet that Global warming in China was that bad. There will be huge changes for the next generations“), there was also criticism.
For example, a former German ambassador to South Korea and other countries in the Greater Middle East wrote:
“Yes, there is climate change. And yes: the human influence on the climate should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, I do not believe in the described climate and environmental catastrophe in China. I was in Chengdu and Shenyang in 2016. The accelerated urbanization in Sichuan and Manchuria presents Chinese society with enormous challenges, which it recognizes as such and tries to master. The main problem in Sichuan is air pollution, also caused by the geographical basin of this huge province. The main problem in Manchuria is the legacy of the old heavy industry and the inevitable need for structural change. See also Xi’s recent visit to Shenyang. But the USA has similar structural and regional problems. I am thinking here of the infamous Rust Belt. According to my admittedly superficial observations, the Chinese are in a better position to deal with the problems of economic and social transformation. For example, by attaching greater importance to the educational and cultural factor in the transformation process than the USA. My assessment therefore: The Chinese are on the winning side.”
The question is whether we don’t underestimate the dynamics of climate change and perhaps not play it down because of our historical experiences, maybe also because we ourselves still hope for a happy ending, since we also got the ozone hole and acid rain under control and a number of horror scenarios at the time did not materialize and the Club of Rome or some peak oil predictions were initially wrong like old Malthus. But possibly and probably the current situation is more acute and many scientists also say that we can no longer prevent the 2 degrees of global warming, which will already have considerable effects, and then, unlike in the past, there is also the possibility of tipping points and exponential dynamics. I’m not a climate expert and that’s why I found the taz article about apocalyptic ideas quite appropriate, although he also made it clear that things could be different this time, or rather asked the question of action in the face of this uncertainty quite correctly. Kissinger also said that politicians often have to make decisions in the face of uncertainties and a lack of information. But the psychological repression effect also plays a role here, that you don’t want to imagine the horror and want to suppress it in an optimistic way. One does not want to imagine a Mariana flood today or in the near future. In addition, the mindset, world view and value views acquired through education, socialization and society, interests and ideological preferences also come into play.
Second, the GR article took Russia and China as a difference, since Russia has missed Chinese economic modernization and its economy is based on the export of raw materials, which it also uses as a geopolitical weapon to enforce Novorussia, the Russian world, Eurasianism and a multipolar world. Catch phrase:: Resource Empire. China’s state revenues, on the other hand, are based on the export of industrial goods, the energy base of which is still fossil fuels, but which they want to be more energy-efficient and reduce them, and are also making a lot of progress in the expansion of renewable energies, hydrogen technology and electromobility, and state infrastructure is also being rapidly expanded here. But even this cannot be vigorous enough in view of climate change, although China also has the idea of being a new world power in a multipolar world and often uses its economy as a means of geopolitical power and enforcement of Chinese interests, as is also the case with the USA or the EU . if you sees the sanctions in the ongoing trade wars. Perhaps the reactions come decades too late.
An important difference may also be that the decision-makers under Putin are recruited more from siloviki, in China more from scientifically educated party cadres, although their progress model is not yet particularly ecological, but is still quite traditional in economic and geopolitical thinking. Here’s an older article from us:
The question is also to what extent China’s political system, also with digitization and the euphemistically called social bonus system and state interventions in the market, is more capable of transforming itself into a green state capitalism and Green New Deal (regardless of the question whether that is possible and the solution to all problems). Because if the CP China recognizes something as right, it can also carry out quite radical changes of course and push it through in a positive or negative sense – see from Mao to Deng or now the clean-up of the real estate market like Evergrande or the rabid and brutal no-Covid lockdown strategy that hardly considers the economy and the people. And if people in this country get angry about the Greens as a neo-socialist ban party, the CP China would probably have a mild Asian smile for this (or for such luxury debates as about the obligation to wear masks or now the „mask scandal“ on the government plane). In the eco-fiction Ecocaust-The New Green World Order, we imagined this using the fictitious eco-dictator Green Steve, although China is still considered an unecological enemy in the eco-fiction.
But the growth ideology is not being questioned, neither in China nor in the West, even if more ecological thinking and thoughts of sustainability are now being incorporated and people think that growth is more efficient, environmentally friendly, technological, qualitivly, and not so quantitatively manageable and therefore the solution for everyone or at least for the elites and perhaps a middle class that is compatible with state power and the economy. In addition, anyone who raises the question of population growth and its ecological consequences is viewed by business or religious interest groups as a neo-Malthusian, disguised Nazi, racist, unfuturistic, reactionary enemy of modernity, hermit-like neo-romantic, economic homo Neanderthal or enemy of progress. An interesting film on this is “System Error”, which, in addition to the financial crisis, also portrays the growth ideology by simply showing the growth forecasts and hopes of several CEOs of multinational corporations, who are simply to talk about their dreams. There is the Airbus manager who raves about the tripling of international air traffic as a result of the growth of the global middle class and the associated Airbus sales and each of the managers interviewed wants even more growth and also unspoken profit. They don’t seem to be interested in the ecological consequences of this and if they are aware, then their interest in profit is crucial – similar to BP and Shell, who decades ago in their own studies knew too well the future effects of CO2 emissions, but kept them secret and fought environmental critics with a series of campaigns using their specially founded Global Climate Initiative and portrayed them as apocalyptic and unscientific liars.
Perhaps it is somewhat reassuring that if China’s birthrate continues, China’s population will halve to 750 million by 2045, even after reading the alarmist posts by the People’s Daily, Global Times and Chinese elites. Nevertheless, the question remains as to whether the geopolitical megalomania and world power thinking of the CP China, also in matters of Taiwan and other powers, is not more important in an emergency than, from their point of view, ecological hippie knick-knack and jute instead of plastic. In addition, one also wonders whether there will be a “winning side” in this nation-state superpower competition and climate change, or not rather all will be losing sides, whether there will only be win-lose as a zero-sum game or rather not lose-lose. The question is also whether one now believes that something can still be rescued and transformed and shaped in a positive way, flees forward and fights, or believes: “Game over” and escapistically drowns himself in Whisky or Äppelwoi (apple wine) and celebrates doomsday parties and thinks “After me the deluge”.