Postcards from James Fallows

The Beijinger recently interviewed Atlantic Monthly correspondent, :

You have a fairly optimistic view of China’s environmental policies. Why?

I think there are several threshold levels. In my book I am writing to address the uninformed American view that everything in China is going to hell in a hand basket and that it’s one big smoking, ashy country and that people are paying no attention whatsoever. There’s a famous cartoon in The Onion, which shows a Chinese ministry official proclaiming “We are the #1 polluter in the world; we are so proud!”

It is worth the outside world recognizing that there are different forces in China that are trying to better the environment. There are companies trying to do the right thing. What this means in terms of actual hope might mean something different. The US and China have to work together on climate issues during this presidential administration. These two countries are doing the most emitting now, and China is certain to grow because people are going to demand more electricity, more cars. It’s just going to happen. If this could happen in a less damaging way, there’s hope for the rest of the world to deal with these issues. If it’s not, it’s really difficult to be hopeful. One’s only option is to be optimistic about what China and the rest of the world, especially the US, can do together.

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