Over the past year or so, while America slept, China went on a shopping spree. According to the March 17th issue of the Washington Post,
Even as global financial flows have slowed sharply overall, China has dramatically stepped up its outbound investment. In 2008, its overseas mergers and acquisitions were worth $52.1 billion -- a record, according to the research firm Dealogic. In January and February of this year, Chinese companies invested $16.3 billion abroad, meaning that if the pace holds, the total for 2009 could be nearly double last year's.
On Feb. 12, China's state-owned metals giant Chinalco signed a $19.5 billion deal with Australia's Rio Tinto that will eventually double its stake in the world's second-largest mining company.
China is now actively in the process of insuring their future by buying up mineral and oils rights all across the planet. They are moving down the path of material abundance which we have been modeling for the past 30 years; and very little we say or do is going to change this anytime soon. The challenge for us is that with 1.3 billion people in China if they want to play the consumption game, that will put unimaginable stress on our ability to do the same.
Americans will be faced with the necessity of a different sort of future when it comes to energy. As these massive Asian countries lock up resources for their future, we will be forced to either fight them... which is not very realistic, or seriously begin to re-organize our energy demands so we are not as effected by these huge global shifts in control of resources.
If we can be successful in building the systems to provide for our needs much closer to home, we can help assure a less stressful transition from an oil dependent society to one with built-in resilience from the coming environmental and financial shocks.
For cities and states who enact legislation to encourage these changes, they will find themselves in a far better position than those who doggedly hold to the fading dream of ever growing economies full of more and more stuff.