China's Next Cultural Revolution

Think we’re advanced with our hybrid electric cars? Think again, and read the hook for a new article in Wired: “The People’s Republic is on the fast track to become the car capital of the world. And the first alt-fuel superpower.”

China has a both a huge problem and a huge advantage over Western nations when it comes to energy sources. The big problem of course is the gigantic population. A population as big as China’s, which is expcted to hit 1.5 billion by 2030, means that “pollution-related illness will suck up as much as 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product” by the same time. Rising GDP means that more families have disposable income and thus money to spend on cars, seen as a sort of status symbol much like North America of a few decades ago. The big advantage of course, is that China lacks an entrenched energy industry.

For hydrogen powered cars to work in North America, one has to deal with the oil companies. They don’t want to see the combustion engine go – that’s their bread and butter. China doesn’t have such an industry. There are no oil companies to deal with. They could very well leapfrog the entire combustion engine era and go straight to alternative fuel automobiles. And that’s probably a good thing for the rest of the world too because as Yang Yiyong, the deputy director of the Institute of Economic Research says, “If you pump for oil, you have to fight wars for it.” China is already the world’s second largest oil consumer after the United States, so anything to avoid confrontation between the two when reserves run low is a good thing.

And in North America, clean fuel sources are being developed out of interest and a desire by a relatively select few to protect the environment. In China, the same technologies are being “created by people desperate enough to imagine it.” There’s a big difference there, and I think that’s the reason China will become the world’s alt-fuel superpower.

Read: Wired

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