Why America and China Need To Fight A Cold War

Energy workers of the world, unite! Old Chinese propaganda poster modified by me

The world needs another Cold War. Literally. America and China should compete to cool the Earth. Would it be better if they got along? Absolutely but A) lol too late and B) competition is motivation. The Cold War put a human on the moon. We need a second Cold War to remain on Earth.

In 1966 alone the US dumped 2% of its GDP into the Apollo program, and God knows what the Soviets were doing. Both spent huge amounts on nuclear weapons and horrible hot conflicts around the globe. Today we are facing another case of mutually-assured destruction and we need the same sense of urgency. Nuclear power was last century’s battleground. Renewable power needs to be the battleground of today.

Why do I say competition, and battle, and war? Why can’t we just cooperate and do it, kumbaya? For the reasons above. It’s too late. America and China are already fighting about TikTok and dumb shit. And motivation. The only language empires understand is war.

So let’s have one.

China vs. the USA

As you may have noticed, the Cold War between America and China is already happening, just over silly things like apps and more serious issues like public health. The US has criminally made the WHO a battleground during a pandemic. They are cynically using the Uyghur plight as propaganda. Tensions are taut in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Then there’s the trade war.

The battle is already joined. It’s just stupid. If China and America are going to fight, it should at least be for something. Something that matters.

Climate Change

Enter climate change. The United States is supremely isolated on this, and China knows it. America is the only country in the world to pull out of the Paris Accords. They are planetary pariahs (not to mention a plague state).

Seeing this strategic opportunity, China has unilaterally declared that it will be carbon neutral by 2060. China is already the global leader in renewable energy infrastructure (also energy in general) and their next five year plan looks set to make green red. The country is currently the world’s largest emitter, but if anyone can turn on a dime it’s the CCP. They see the planet sized leadership gap America has left, and they’re taking it.

Meanwhile the United States is still debating whether the world is flat. They are the most historically responsible, and yet take the least responsibility. Even while their own country is literally burning, they’re like ‘this is fine’. Americans laud vanity projects like Tesla while China is building vastly more efficient electric buses, trains, and two/three wheelers. Even under Obama America was fracking fossil fuels while China was driving solar prices relentlessly down (and coal though, they still love coal). More to the point, America offers no leadership, only very public stupidity.

Right now, there’s no competition at all. China wins by default, because America has its head in the sand and its pants on fire. Knowing this, China is taking diplomatic dumps on America, and they’re right. Americans are a bunch of arrogant fools that can’t put a mask on to save their own lives. No one trusts them with any higher science because they haven’t mastered basic hygiene. When it comes to this Cold War, America is the evil empire.

Competition

This can change, in a month. They can become dramatically more evil, or marginally less. We don’t talk about this enough, but if Donald Trump wins the upcoming election, the planet is fucked. Rejecting science on COVID-19 has only got Americans killed. Rejecting it on climate change will kill us all. I won’t talk about that scenario because it would be mostly screaming.

If Joe Biden is elected and channels his inner FDR, it is possible that America may join civilization. There could be an American Green New Deal that not only competes with China, but drives China harder. Or they could just keep bailing out their banks until the end times 🤷🏾‍♂️.

The ideal scenario for the planet is that China and America try to outdo each other with green technology, and use it to project power across the globe. Instead of missile sites, they would be installing wind farms. Instead of bases it would be solar panels.

Capitalists and communists used to compete over nuclear power. Now they need to compete over renewables.

It seems silly, but this sort of dick measuring is geopolitics. It was this spirit of competition that drove the space race in the 1950s and 60s to frankly absurd heights. As Gil Scott-Heron said, “No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey’s on the moon)”
.

It’d be easier if we found some way to kill each other with solar energy, but great power competition is still possible. And we need it. We need that urgency, we need that drive, we need to push beyond what we think is possible, faster than we think it can be done. We need to treat the climate emergency as an emergency. We need to fight.

I am not, then, calling for a new Cold War. I’m saying that it’s already upon us. Let it be for something, let it be for somewhere. The last Cold War at least put whitey on the moon. Let this next one send our children to a habitable planet. Let us race to Earth.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. indi@indi.ca. Videos: tiny.cc/indication and podcast: anchor.fm/indication. patreon.com/indication

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