Postcard From South China

More from Thomas Friedman as he travels through China:

The good news was that the Chinese engineers showed me their control room, which has a giant glass window that looks out onto their 21 wind turbines that crown the peaks of a nearby mountain. “How nice,” I thought. “China’s really starting to go green.”

But as my eye drifted just to the left of that mountain, I saw Macau, with its rising skyline of casino skyscrapers. The Venetian Hotel in Macau alone has some 870 gaming tables and 3,400 slot machines. So, I did a quick calculation and figured that those 21 wind turbines together might power the Venetian’s army of one-armed bandits for a few hours of green gambling.

That dichotomy runs through a lot of what is going on here in Province, where 30 years ago China began its economic opening. You’re starting to see the emergence of Chinese clean-tech companies — I also visited a solar panel start-up — and real environmental awareness among officials and students. But the momentum of this region’s growth, the sheer land-of-the-giants scale of the buildings, makes the here literally a drop in the bucket.

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