Here is Tom Friedman’s “China” piece from today’s NY Times. Similar to Jared Diamond, he indulges in some scale algebra (1.3 billion people all getting richer and each eating meat, driving a car and living a Houston lifestyle adds up to a lot resources). Friedman suggests that the Chinese cannot embrace the “American Dream” or we are all doomed. I’m working on these same questions (urban pollution dynamics in China’s growing cities) but from the perspective of microeconomics. To preview my new book’s themes; the Invisible Hand will offer incentives to minimize the impact of the anticipated Chinese Carmageddon and the one party state will have strong incentives (due to self interest) to deliver policies that nudge the growing cities towards green goals. While people in China’s cities have similar preferences as the people of Houston (seeking health, good food, peace of mind and low stress and happy kids), this doesn’t mean that Tianjin will grow up to look like Houston.
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