Foreign Contributions for Sichuan Earthquake Victims

(I am posting my reply to “沙特也是兄弟!!各国的捐款祥情” here, as replying in the forum requires registration. My attempt to register in another Chinese forum was silently rejected, which I consider to be suspicious.)

Interesting thread.

Note that these numbers are artificially low. Many countries, including the United States, offered aid in the form of military personnel, airlift capacity, etc. Because the Communist Party does not want pictures of foreign soldiers helping Chinese people in China, the Party refused these offers of assistance.

Still, it is good to see that so many people are helping China. This is a terrible tragedy!

The Sound of No Hands Clapping

That the Barack Obama Movement inspires zen-like questions perhaps is appropriate, as Obama drives others toward meaninglessness in the same way that zen aspires to nothingness.

Still, I didn’t realize the sound of no hands clapping sounded so much like clapping.

Red State‘s write up of the video proof of Obama’s dishonesty is annoying, so I won’t go over those points. What it does show is the increasingly pedestrian fact that Barack Obama is just another politician, willing to betray friends, fail to condemn bigotry, and deceive in order to win elections.

(This point should be obvious, but is denied enough to merit a blog post or two. I hope no one reads this post in a way that gives legitimacy or esteem to those who believe that Obama is a transcendent figure.)

China, Learning and Growing Stronger

The Economist has the best analysis of the Sichuan earthquake, focusing on how embarrassment leads globalizing governments to learn the right lessons.

So was the contrast with the China of 1976, when an even deadlier earthquake struck the city of Tangshan. The full awfulness of that event—at least 250,000 people died—was not revealed for months, and offers of foreign help were spurned.

China’s rulers are still proud and sometimes prickly, but for reasons good and bad they have changed. They got a nasty shock, for instance, in 2003 when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, showed how a virulent new plague, if uncontained, might impose huge costs on a modernising economy. This taught them that burying bad news is not always sensible. A fierce freeze-up this January showed how the weather could also bring paralysis, less economically damaging perhaps but awkward all the same over a great national holiday. This showed them the merits of occasionally admitting imperfection, and even of offering a prime-ministerial apology. Since then they have learnt that beating up their Tibetan citizens may not be wise just as they are trying to impress the world with an Olympic extravaganza.

Tom’s take is pretty good, too.

Behold! A World Powered by Wind!

Very good news, if true & accurate:

Energy Dept: 20% Of US Energy From Wind By 2030 Feasible
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- In a new report, the U.S. Department of Energy said that generating 20% of U.S. energy needs from wind by 2030 is technically feasible, but would require $197 billion in investments, especially in interstate transmission build-out.

Arguments against wind power as an unreliable and marginal source of power are “frivolous and uninformed,” said Andy Karsner, DOE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, while presenting the report at a press conference. Preliminary findings from the report were previously available, but the DOE made the final results public Monday.

(This story also appeared in Clean Technology Investor, a daily newsletter published by Dow Jones & Co.)

The expenditure needed to reach the 20% goal would only be $43 billion, or 2%, higher than if the U.S. didn’t add any wind whatsoever and reached the same power capacity from other sources, the DOE and its industry collaborators said in the report. They estimated that the additional spending would translate into 50 cents per month on the average customer’s utility bill. Adding that much wind to the grid would also cause natural gas prices to decrease, the report said.

The true benefits of such a program are described by Bjorn Lomborg in Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming (which itself is featured in the bibliography for Tom Barnett’s newest, Great Powers). Lomborg subjects climate change to the same analysis as any other social problem, and comes up with one critical tool for fighting it: research and development. Most carbon taxes would be wasteful, many cap-and-trade systems are foolished, but making new technologies economically affordable has real pay-offs.

Generating 20% of our nation’s energy by 2030 would not only limit the increase in the amount of energy we “rent” from countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia: it would create economies of scale that make renewable energy more affordable for anyone.

20-in-30? Let’s do it.