First the surprising but very good news: according to the United Nations, global investment in green energy has, for the first time, surpassed investment in gas and coal. Here’s how the numbers come out: $140 billion for wind, solar and other clean (or cleaner with a caveat) fuels vs. (a still astounding) $110 billion for fossil fuel-based energy. As with most aspects of the global economy and climate, China is a big player in the green energy market. Wind is the most popular energy investment (also astounding: the U.S. now leads this market), followed by solar and then biofuels — hence the caveat. Many studies show that processing corn and palm oil into fuel burns more energy than they produce. Each is also a fuel, too: of deforestation, further monoculturization of agriculture and rising food prices.
Now to the folly, foretold and perhaps forestalled. Hummer, the risible if it wasn’t so scary, gaz-guzzling consumer “tank” has been sold by a bankrupt General Motors to a Chinese heavy manufacturing company. The new owners are said not to want to see fleets of Hummers on the busy streets of China’s main cities. Instead, they plan to take the “iconic” brand and give it a makeover: producing smaller, much more fuel efficient vehicles. It seems that in China the 15-mile-to-the-gallon (if that) Hummer’s appeal was limited. Only 500 were sold in 2008 due to high fuel costs and smart government imposed high tariffs. “To drive a Hummer, for rich people it fulfills a certain dream,” Yale Zhang, a Shanghai-based auto industry analyst, told Time. But, he continues, “in China, it’s a niche market for sure. It’s too big; it consumes too much gasoline. The price is very high, and very few people can afford it.” Folly, indeed.