AEIdeas

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  1. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E.

    Some soft facts which paralleled China’s increased standard of living:
    China now graduates about eight engineers to one American engineer. (This is a rough comparison because there is no universal definition of an engineer.)
    The US graduates seven lawyers for one graduate engineer.
    45% of the graduate engineers in the US were born in another nation, mostly Asian nations.
    Over 75% of the PhDs in engineering, in the US, were also born in another nation, mostly Asian nations.
    In the interval stated in the article, the number of employees in US “Smoke stack” industries has dropped to almost 1/3. There are areas within Detroit containing abandoned buildings which are larger than Manhattan and San Francisco combined.

    There are over four times as many Chinese, as Americans, and their growth is in heavy industrial processes. Example: China contains 97% of the world’s known resources in rare earth deposits. These materials are essential to advanced energy systems e.g. advanced permanent magnets. Example: China is currently building nuclear power plants on a scale and speed never achieved in the US. Example: China is completing a new coal fired power plant about once every several days. The US has not built a new large coal fired power plant in the last two generations. Example: China has opened a Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway operating at 300 KMPH train. Most US passenger trains are limited to 129 KMPH. Example: In late 2010, the Chinese National University of Defense Technology introduced the fastest supercomputer on earth. A spokesman for our Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory called it a “game changer…. a phase transition, representative of the shift of economic competitiveness from the West to the East”

    At current growth rates, (or decline rates) it can be estimated that China may well become a peer of the US within the next generation, on a per capita energy basis. This is not a certainty, there are enormous social and foreign relation stresses, which influence energy creation and distribution, but the Chinese, and Indian, advances will probably redefine the energy levels of the world. And energy is the bedrock of national power.

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