Monday, January 21, 2008

Looking to China for Efficient Leadership

The City of Madison Commission on the Environment rippled the blogosphere by proposing a ban on plastic water bottles, bags. Well it looks like the Chinese beat them to punch. Those Chinese are so efficient in their decision making.

China bans plastic shopping bags: China has announced a ban on plastic shopping bag because of pollution and energy concerns. According to China's State Council, the ban will start June 1. Firms that continue to sell, make and distribute bags thicker than 0.025 mm thick will be given fines and authorities may seize goods and profits, the State Council said. All supermarkets, department stores and shops will be prohibited from giving out free plastic bags, the State Council said. Also, stores must clearly mark the price of plastic shopping bags and are banned from tacking that price onto products.

Which raises the question in the environmentalist moment: why can China quickly achieve what the United States only talks about? Could it be Chinese Government is empowered to act for the greater good of the public?

Climate change, is democracy enough?: To many of us, therefore, a change in light bulbs by the citizenry is important in terms of the recognition of the problem, but the effect is infinitesimal in contrast to the actions required by governments.

The ban in China will save importation and use of five million tons of oil used in plastic bag manufacture, only a drop in the ocean of the world oil well. But the importance in the decision lies in the fact that China can do it by edict and close the factories. They don’t have to worry about loss of political donations or temporarily unemployed workers. They have made a judgment that their action favours the needs of Chinese society as a whole.

Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. … The Chinese decision on shopping bags is authoritarian and contrasts with the voluntary non-effective solutions put forward in most Western democracies. We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions.

Meanwhile, back in Madison the city “has had almost as much snowfall since Dec. 1 as the city typically gets over an entire winter”. Vincent P. O’Hern, Marc Eisen, Michana Buchman, Bill Lueders and the rest of the Isthmus brain trust --- isn’t the slightest bit of cognitive dissonance about climate change justified proposals disturbing your sleep at night?