Here’s a worthwhile David R. Francis editorial about China’s growing demand for oil. It’s another reminder that environmentalists who really care about the fate of the earth — the entire earth, not just their favorite camping spot out West — can do nothing more valuable than trying to make sure that China does not follow the same development path as the U.S. and Europe. This means lobbying the Chinese government not only to adopt aggressive conservation and renewable energy programs, but also to open up the free flow of information, in the press and particularly on the internet. A vigorous exchange of information inside the country can lead, through the distributed efforts of thousands of concerned citizens who experience those problems directly, to the development of innovative energy, resource, and conservation solutions. Despite the fond hopes of China’s ruling elite, sustainable economic development is not feasible without the simultaneous development of an open democratic culture. Bottom-up, distributed, openly shared solutions are China’s best hope of leapfrogging.
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David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can follow his Twitter feed at twitter.com/drgrist.