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Posted by on Dec 27, 2010 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

Beijing’s Auto Crisis

This is a sobering video.

8 Comments

  1. There is a great disturbance in the force. The Empire strikes back and another society is crumbling under the dark side. I’d read about this “conversion” in a number of magazines and felt the same sadness that I feel now.

    “By 2030, China will need all of the oil on earth.” Great.

    They had hundreds of thousands of cyclists and now they don’t. So sad.

    400,000 deaths by automobile last year? That’s more than a thousand a day! More sadness.

  2. “This is a big deal for my parents (to be able to buy a car). Back in their day, they couldn’t afford a bicycle.”

    We are witness to a powerful force that shouldn’t be ignored (or misinterpreted). While I wish they wouldn’t repeat our mistakes, we have have to be careful not to exercise cultural imperialism.

  3. People want stuff. They especially want stuff that is prestigious, as it symbolises their social status. The only way to reverse what is happening in China (and has been happening in the US for the past decades) is to make the bicycle prestigious and the automobile not. Sadly, nothing large-scale can be accomplished through guilt or cries about environmental responsibility.

  4. Soaring oil demand in China and India is a major driver of high oil prices, which are only going to sharply increase as we go over Peak Oil.

    Since 2008, oil prices have been bouncing around record high levels. Has supply increased? No, in spite of frantic efforts to bring production on-line from ever more dubious locations – like the deep-water part of the Gulf of Mexico.

    As Western economies recover from the recession and demand more oil, and China and India continue to demand more and more oil, we can expect the price to skyrocket.

    Let us not forget that there are far more valuable uses for oil than to burn it up in cars. Uses range from chemicals, to industrial lubricants to plastics to agriculture. When oil hits $1000 a barrel and only the ultra-rich are burning it in cars as an act of conspicuous consumption, vast amounts of oil will still be used for all these other uses. Because oil is so valuable that industries will gladly pay $1000 per barrel for these uses.

  5. I can’t find a link to the video.
    China is now selling about as many cars as the US, and Japan combined.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_industry_in_China

    According to that article, 44% of those cars are built by Chinese based companies and the rest by Western and Japanese joint ventures based in China. Less than 5% of the cars are imported.

    Means their middle class is growing rapidly.

    • I saw a video a several years ago (might have been a NOW episode) about how the Chinese govt didn’t implement emissions standards so all the foreign auto manufacturers built cars in China without the emission controls required in Europe and the US. I don’t know if that’s changed since.

  6. Well, Beijing and Shanghai are two cities of their own kind… What I find more encouraging these days is the abundance of electric bikes/scooters, not so much in Beijing, but in the mid-level cities, especially in the Yangtze Valley, with its flat terrain and mild climate (Yangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan). Some cities seem to have more of them then of regular bicycles!

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yangzhou-WenchangGe-traffic-3417.jpg
    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yangzhou-WenchangLu-electric-bicycles-3278.jpg

    It is amusing to keep pedaling on a regular bike on a hot Wuhan day, and to see a little old lady on an electric bike noiselessly and effortlessly pass me :-)

    They have plenty of electrics even in a colder region, like Shandong. The riders equip them with “fixed gloves” / muffs, to keep their hands warm in winter:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Qufu_-_electric_bikes_parked_-_P1060310.JPG