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posted on 08 October 2017

Actions Matter. How America Is Losing.

by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, www.nofica.com

It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders.


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Actions matter.

Arriving home from college one day, I was met at the train station by a high school pal, who said, "Do me a favor. My girlfriend only will double-date with me. Will you go out with her friend?"

I said, "Yes," and as a result, I met and have been married to the greatest woman on earth for 61 years, and now have 2 daughters and 5 grandsons, and none of it would have happened had not my pal become a so amorously aggressive with his girlfriend that she wanted guards.

Actions matter in ways we never can predict. Those far-reaching effects can emanate even from the trivial, everyday actions by us regular folks.

Now consider the vastly more influential, long-term effects of the actions by a powerful person, say the most powerful person on earth, the President of the United States.

President Donald Trump has claimed that human-caused global warming (or "climate change," take your pick) is a Chinese hoax, and he has taken repeated actions to demonstrate his disbelief in the science of meteorology, not the least of which was his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

Some take refuge in the notion that "American will survive Donald Trump," but it isn't true. Cancer begins with a single cell. The damage spreads forever.

I was reminded of this by an article in the 9/16/17 edition of NewScientist, titled "Can China save the world. Here are a few excerpts.

Why China's green ambitions will make it The Next World Leader

As the US under Donald Trump turns its back on climate change, China's globalisation agenda could catalyse a green revolution that will make it a superpower

Renewable energy is having its moment in the Chinese sun. The country's investment in solar, wind and other clean energy technology has soared from $8 billion in 2005 to $103 billion in 2015.

China now spends more on developing renewable energy than the US and Europe combined.

Leaders lead. The U.S., which has been the world leader in science, now is relinquishing that leadership to China, at least in the development of non-carbon-based fuels.

(China has stepped) into the climate leadership void left by the US under President Donald Trump.

As Trump pursues an "America First" strategy and sings the praises of "beautiful, clean coal", China is looking for ways to collaborate with other countries on tackling climate change.

Trump has demonstrated interest and curiosity about only two things: His money and what is said or written about him.

His policies, in reality, are not America first. They are "Trump first." They are based not on what is best for America, but what is best for Trump.

China's president Xi Jinping said, "Some countries have become more inward-looking, and their desire to participate in global development cooperation has decreased."

Translation for Americans: "Inward-looking" means, "hiding behind a wall, erecting trade barriers, antagonism to non-whites and gays, barring foreigners, and evicting non-citizens." It is a less advanced version of the North Korean, hermit strategy.

To strengthen relations with other nations, China has begun one of the largest-ever trade initiatives, known as the Belt and Road. This links it to 68 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa along the historic Silk Road trade routes.

That will be 68 nations who look first to China rather than to the U.S. as we close our doors to the rest of the world.

China's enormous manufacturing capacity means it can churn out millions of cheap solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines each year.

The country now owns five out of six of the world's biggest solar panel manufacturers and half of the 10 largest wind turbine manufacturers.

This capacity has allowed Chinese companies to shift their focus to the international energy market in recent years. Chinese firms have recently won tenders to build solar farms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Jordan, Iran, Oman, Romania, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

They are also building wind farms in South Africa, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and hydropower plants in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last year, China started talks with Russia, Japan and South Korea about building a supersized clean power grid. This would allow the four nations to share their solar, wind and hydro energy and balance out each other's supplies.

"America first" is, in reality, an "America never" strategy. We aren't aggressively pursuing renewable energy because we are told it's not necessary.

We are told to believe coal and oil don't pollute, don't cause the world to warm, and will last forever.

Beyond obvious financial rewards, China seeks to extend its political influence by globalising its clean energy tech.

The Chinese government has put a strategic emphasis on investing in renewable energy because it sees it as the next industrial revolution - one which it wants to lead.

Tim Buckley at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Sydney, Australia, agrees.

"China wants to dominate industries of the future while the governments of the US and Australia want to dominate industries of the past."

America's leadership has told the people "globalization" is a dirty word, costing jobs and corporate profits.

The Chinese know globalization already exists, no matter what Donald Trump says, and unlike America, the Chinese want to be the leaders.

There are several reasons why China's clean energy sector will ultimately beat its fossil fuel competitors.

First, the rapidly declining cost of Chinese renewables will make them highly attractive to other countries.

Chinese firm JinkoSolar, for instance, is constructing a solar farm in the UAE that produces electricity for 2.4 US cents per kilowatt-hour. In comparison, the US average is 5 cents per kilowatt hour for solar and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for unsubsidised coal.

This is key, because at the end of the day, economics drives most decisions.

More accurately, ignorance of economics drives most decisions. The belief the Monetarily Sovereign U.S. federal government "can't afford" to pursue renewable energy has crippled our ability to develop and thus to lead in renewable energy.

Speed is another advantage - a solar or wind farm can be built in six months, compared with five to 10 years for a coal-fired plant.

In a world where time is money, opting for a slow coal or nuclear plant rather than a fast, renewable energy plant, provides another example of economic ignorance driving decisions.

Many Belt and Road countries are also introducing environmental policies to limit fossil fuel use. India, which was previously the top destination in the partnership for Chinese coal investment, is now heavily backing solar energy and is aiming to get 57 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2027.

The U.S. has no comparable initiative. Our leaders tell us it's not prudent.

Finally, clean energy projects are more likely to win investors. The World Bank no longer finances overseas coal projects. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has ruled out financing coal power and promised to be "lean, green and clean".

Chinese banks have become the world leaders in issuing green bonds to finance environmental projects.

The U.S., being Monetarily Sovereign, easily could, and certainly should, finance investment in renewables. It's what a leader would do.

The fastest uptake of clean energy could come from China and the countries along the new Silk Road.

Rich nations like the US may be the only ones left clinging to their "beautiful" coal.

And for evidence of our shortsightedness, there's the following article:

Trump's clean energy budget cuts would 'devastate' an emerging economic sector

Budget plan calls for elimination of ARPA-E, major cuts to renewables research. By: Mark Hand, May 23, 2017

President Donald Trump's 2018 budget would make huge cuts in renewable energy research and eliminate agencies within the Department of Energy that fund energy technology projects.

The decision was "in line with administration policies," according to the budget request.

Clean energy research took another major hit with the administration's proposal to reduce the budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to $636 million, about $1.4 billion, or 70 percent, below the FY16 enacted level for the office.

"It reflects an increased reliance on the private sector to fund later-stage research, development, and commercialization of energy technologies and focuses resources toward early-stage research and development."

Translation: "Increased reliance on the private sector" means: "The government will do less, and if you people want to carry the ball, go ahead."

Democrats warn Trump's Energy Department against 'unlawful' withholding of funds. Already-approved grants are being reviewed for consistency with Trump administration priorities, DOE says.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, "His budget proposals would devastate an emerging sector of our economy by killing thousands of clean-energy jobs all over the country - all in a misguided effort to hold onto the past at the expense of our future."

President Trump talks and talks and talks about "making America great, again."

But his ignorance-based decisions move us from leadership toward backward-looking, second-class status - a mean-spirited, small-thinking, once-great nation, hiding in fear behind a wall, while squabbling amongst ourselves to determine whether the rich and the whites will continue to divide what's left.

Even the most trivial-seeming actions have long-term effects. But the outrageous actions of an inward-facing, ego-centric, leader can force centuries of ill-effect, not just to us but to our distant descendants.

One day people may ask each other, "Remember the time when the United States of America was a world leader?" That may seem unlikely now, but so was the blind date that gave me my wife of 61 years.

Actions matter. Some win.

America is losing.

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