The Automobilization of China

Stuart Staniford has a stunning, massively important post at his Early Warning blog.

The topic is the growth of automobile ownership and use in China.

There has been a great deal of publicity about the supposed green-ness of China’s explosive state-guided economic growth.

Apparently, whatever green tech China is building has done rather little to check automobilization there.  Consider this graph from Staniford:

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-- click image to enlarge --

Staniford concludes his analysis:

In summary, if present trends continue, the Chinese expressway system will likely grow larger than the US interstate highway system within the next couple of years, and Chinese car ownership will exceed US car ownership by somewhere in the neighborhood of 2017.  So while the al-Shahristani plan for Iraqi oil production seems like it aims for an extraordinary increase in oil production in a hurry, it’s not at all hard to see where all that oil can go.  Oversimplifying greatly, it’s as though the US borrowed a pile of money from China in order to fight a war to free up oil supply in Iraq in order that China could become the greatest industrial power the world has ever seen.

Of course, how China will fuel its automotive fleet for very long, given the problem of Peak Oil and Peak Everything, is the exact same question the U.S. overclass begs but refuses to face.  It’s noteworthy that, in China’s fusion of Stalinism and corporate capitalism, the ruling class is apparently making the exact same suicidal choices as our own vested interests.

This is going to be one hell of a century…