Harry Reid’s ‘Green China’ myth

In a media call this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he has seen the future, and it works. It’s “green energy” in Red China. That this green-energy absurdity continues to get so much play at such high policy levels is little short of terrifying.

Reid sees China making things, hears talking points about how they’re also widely using green contraptions, and argues ever more feverishly that we must do something that China is not in fact doing, the double-whammy binge of mandating and heavily subsidizing alternative energy technology.

Here’s the truth, which we already know, even if some people insist on ignoring it:

— Non-hydro renewables, despite considerable government support, make up less than 1 percent of China’s energy portfolio — which is not projected to change in coming decades. As Bjorn Lomborg wrote just last week in the Washington Post, “China was responsible for half of the world’s production of solar panels in 2010, but only 1 percent was installed there…solar is responsible for one-half of one-thousandth of 1 percent” of China’s energy.

— China is not leading a green energy revolution; it is leading a global race for oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear power — the energy sources that actually fuel China’s growth. A coal-fired power plant a week — I’ll have what she’s having! — a new coal mine every three months — China’s doing it! — a few new nuclear reactors a year (yes, still planned, they merely said they’d review safety plans).

— China does not have renewable energy mandates or cap and trade, both of which make energy more expensive and send manufacturing jobs away.

Now here’s the really difficult part:

— “The cost of Chinese factory labor is a paltry 64 cents an hour…For comparison, hourly factory compensation in the U.S. in 2002 was $21.11, and an average of $14.22 in the 30 foreign countries covered by the existing [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics] report.”

The average manufacturing wage in China is 64 cents per hour.

The EPA and green group obstruction of development: Kidding!

Democrats insisting we do what China does: Priceless.

Sixty-four cents an hour is the pay to make things that other countries’ leaders — but not their own — are mandating. The Chinese make solar panels and windmills not because they work (they don’t, in any meaningful sense of the word), but to satisfy Western policymakers’ political vanity.

If you liked the Simpsons’ monorail, you’ll love this.

You won’t love it so much if, say, you’ve ever read Bastiat, pay taxes or simply are concerned about our economic future. Or if you understand that for something to be an “alternative” it has to actually be an alternative.

Wind and solar power, both commercialized at the same time as coal-fired power, are no such thing. The wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine, and when one or both are happening, they are extremely diffuse energy sources and are redundant. That is, you still have to have the fossil-fuel plant running to cycle up and down as (wait for it!) a “backup.” That’s on net even more polluting than not having windmills or solar panels at all.