Friday, June 7, 2013

China and USA - Like a Moth to the Flame

Back in the days when I was living in Philadelphia and doing business with China, and frequently hosted business delegations, I always questioned my visitors closely about the other places they planned to visit in the United States. My antennae went up when I heard them mention a city where a competitor was located. I was pleased when they said they would be going to Washington, DC. And I was always amused that every group's itinerary included Las Vegas. ("Las Vegas"?)

Those business people from China had come to America to learn, and I guess they felt that the quickest place to get the flavor of what America is all about is Las Vegas.

U.S. Style (The Strip, Las Vegas)

I wonder: will Barack Obama and Xi Jinping will sneak out of Rancho Mirage during their summit meeting and fly over Las Vegas at night?

I think it would be a good idea. It might set the stage for a valuable discussion by the U.S. and China leaders about what we have aimed our respective societies at.

China Style (Nanjing Road, Shanghai)

The United States may set the standard for human desire -- for the mindless pursuit of the bright and shiny object -- but, heaven knows, China is not to be outdone.

I've coined the notion of "chinaEARTHusa" because our planet is caught in a vice by the surging desires of our human society -- notably the established consumer culture in the United States and the burgeoning consumer culture in China. The planet is threatened by a climate crisis driven by our relentless culture of consumption, and we seem to be hurtling forward heedlessly, hell-bent on simply burning the planet out like an old light bulb.

China from space (night)
U.S.from space (night)

Maybe it's time for our leaders to lead.

MORE: #chinaEARTHusa - Radical Change? or Planetocide?

Related posts

China would like nothing better than to cut its carbon emissions. By all means, let the U.S. demonstrate how this can be accomplished -- while maintaining standards of living at the same time, if you please --  and China can be counted on follow the U.S. lead (as in so many other areas of development).

(See Obama's Tribute Mission to China

  It was a beautiful day in Chicago yesterday. Sunny, cool . . . . "Maybe everything's gonna be okay?" I thought. "Who worries about the climate crisis on a day like this?" And then it struck me: "Don't believe it. Just 'cause it's not miserably hot, people had better not think for a minute that the climate crisis isn't for real."

(See 5 Fundamentals on the Climate Crisis)

What if people spent December working for peace and justice instead of shopping?

(See #PeaceDecember)

"Although we know the end from the very beginning," says Walker, "the story is no less compelling to watch." A man, gloriously alone (except for his own reflection) on an ice-covered lake; the soothing pastel colors of the distant sky; and what seems surely to be a circle he is digging around himself with a pick-axe. A perfect parable for our headlong rush toward climate crisis?

(See How Do You Say "Suicide Narcissus" in Chinese?)

To be blunt, the United States is going to have to doing something really shocking to get China's attention. Like: go on a crash program to cut carbon emissions to zero in a decade (and, somehow, to achieve a sort of "economic invincibility" -- whatever that means -- in the process).

(See Obama's Climate Action Plan: How Do You Say "Yawn" in Chinese? )