The Path to Dominance

World dominance, that is. For China:

The main challenge from the world’s new industrial superpower is not that it will continue to use the dirty, old technologies of the past, but that it will come to dominate the new, clean, green ones of the future. 

As developed nations fail to put an adequate price on carbon, and thus to stimulate clean-technology development themselves, they risk handing market supremacy to the rival they most fear. Indeed, it could even be hypothesized that China’s blocking of agreement on rich-country emission targets in Copenhagen was intended to hold back the development of cleantech by its Western rivals.

An interesting question for business minds, at least. Business/finance/economic growth thinking – that drives investments in infrastructure, engineering and technology, not to mention general promotion of cultural shifts – has been consistenty wrong about the solutions to climate change. There’s a reason business interests – so-called – keep being on the wrong side of this issue. What exactly is the challenge that is being misunderstood? At its best, enterprise sees opportunity everywhere, even in threats. Check out the tone of the recent proceedings in Copenhagen. When has such an opportunity seemed like such a threat?

And remember: we’ve got quite a record in the face of really big challenges – 9/11 (Iraq did it?), the Soviet threat (from a rusting, empty shell of a superpower?). And while much of this ignorance might have been purposeful, it doesn’t make it look any less stupid in hindsight – though nothing will compare with even the middling scenario of irreversible environmental devastation that will result from doing nothing about climate change out of some affinity for cost-benefit analyses. Talk about stupid. In other scenarios we’d apply for a patent.

So this is the double-whammy for the world’s leading economy. If we [still] want to become something other than the world’s leading army, there must be serious improvement in geo-political business understanding. As the article points out, even Little Tommy Friedman gets this (which, I admit might normally undermine the reality. But not this time.) From a frantic, stock/futures market perspective, what happens in the next couple of years will determine if the U.S. and American companies will be competitive in clean energy development in the decades to come – or whether we will be colonized by Chinese solar and wind companies like the Chinese were with soft drinks, cell phones and fast food brands.

What happened to all that ruthlessness?