President Obama’s much ballyhooed green jobs don’t just move to China; they sometimes aren’t even green. The Chinese government has responded with violence as villagers protest against a polluting solar panel factory near Shanghai. From The Guardian:
Although solar is seen as clean energy in terms of carbon emissions, the production of many components is energy intensive and polluting. Toxic discharges from the factory killed large numbers of fish and regulators have previously ordered the company to suspend operations, according to the domestic media. […]
The clash highlights the difficulty that China faces as it tries to clean up its environment, reduce its reliance on coal and secure “clean tech” export business. The country is the world’s biggest manufacturer of solar panels with about 70% of the global market, but overseas rivals say this dominant position has been achieved through unfair subsidies, low wages and lax environmental regulation.
Yet another green panacea turns out to be flawed. Whether the magic green solution is ethanol, electric cars, or now solar panels, it turns out pretty regularly that green policy interventions don’t work as planned. With so many crack ups and “unexpected” complications on relatively simple green ideas, is anyone surprised that the public is so little interested in hugely complex and completely untested green plans to redesign the global economy in the interests of carbon reduction?
Oddly, environmentalists who are so sensitive to the dangers of disturbing the intricate patterns of natural systems, have no qualms at all about crude interventions in the delicate and complex economic ecology. It’s a strange but persistent form of blindness that severely restricts the ability of the green movement to get anything constructive accomplished.