21st Century Does Not Belong to China

RECEIVED Tue., May 10, 2005

Dear Editor,
    In his article on $4-a-gallon gasoline [“Letters@3am,” April 29], Michael Ventura closes with the speculation that "No country gets two centuries anymore. The 21st will be China's century. That's what $4-plus a gallon means, and nothing can stop it." However, this ignores the fact that China faces problems that are likely less tractable than our own, particularly their tremendous and burgeoning population. Without manufacturing exports (which are driven by access to cheap energy), the Chinese economy will stagnate or crash. In order to remain stable China requires cheap energy for agricultural production, as well. The water difficulties in North China are on a scale even Las Vegas can't imagine. The megaprojects China has undertaken to "solve" these problems are, themselves, heavily dependent on cheap energy. If today's high energy prices continue their upward spiral, the next century will almost certainly not belong to China ... in fact, if energy scarcity reigns as Ventura speculates, it may not belong to any human.
Jeff Moretz
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