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Many environmentalists have no sense of history. They often bemoan the fact that in the U.S. and other Western democracies leaders have to get the public’s buy in for most major policies. Leaders, if they wish to stay in office, usually just can’t impose any policies they (or enviro wack-jobs) wish, but rather have to convince a significant portion of the public or at least their representatives, that the policies will accomplish some worthwhile, desirable end.
Many environmentalists have displayed totalitarian envy, praising dictators in communist or other totalitarian countries because they “can get things done quickly,” without the give and take of vote trading, public hearings, rule proposals and adjustments, etc…
What they ignore in this foolish tendency to the totalitarian impulse is that tyrants often don’t take environmentalists wishes into account any more than anyone elses. When the Berlin wall fell, we found (as many economist predicted) that the worst environmental conditions in the world were found behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern European countries. Air and water quality, and toxic releases were far worse there than in the dirtiest U.S. city — as they still are in China.
Now, I love the outdoors and hate pollution or anything else that mars wild places or disrupts wildlife habitats — which, more than the cost, is why I really dislike wind and solar farms. Still, it was a small amount of guilty glee mixed in with my dismay that I read that China is paving over coral reefs South China Sea.
According to Blacklisted News, the U.S. Navy is reporting Beijing is undertaking an “unprecedented land reclamation, … creating a great wall of sand” over four square kilometers, in the disputed area in the South China Sea.
Speaking at a naval conference in Australia, US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. said China has been “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete. China has now created over 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of artificial landmass.”
Submerged reefs in the Spratlys archipelago have been turned into artificial islands with buildings, wharves and runways.
While China claims a vast majority of the South China sea, it still has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. Earlier this month Vietnam and the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with Beijing.
Now, that’s getting things done.
In another move sure to tweek environmentalists noses, China has also decided to cut coal-fired power prices. Bloomberg business reports, China intends to cut prices for electricity generated by coal-fired plants in an attempt to lower companies’ operating costs and aid a struggling economy.
This move would seem to undermine the country’s commitment to cap carbon-dioxide emissions and to rein in coal use to improve the nation’s air quality.
In one party states, absent political give and take and real public input, the environment continues to get short shrift when the economy is in trouble.
Imagine what would happen if President Obama decided to pave over a few coral reefs for a naval base. It would never fly. But, thank goodness, in China the government can get things done.