The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Quick Takes 8: China Auto, Israeli Mass Murder, Covid Mass Murder & More

Time for another “quick takes” since half my readers are likely still recovering from Thanksgiving food comas.

One of the more extraordinary videos I’ve seen. Do take the time to watch it, it’s not that long

Two things beyond the obvious really stuck out for me: one is how Britain lost its car industry, which was actually pretty large. The second is Japan dipping back below the US, though I wonder how much of that is offshored production: Canada is listed as a big producer for much of the timeline, but it’s all foreign companies: American, Korean and Japanese.

The main thing, though, is the huge size of the Chinese lead. It’s very reminiscent of the US lead after WWII.

All of this is ludicrous, though, in the sense that even electric cars are massively environmentally stupid (too many resources, used up too quickly given how fast we replace cars.) We need to move off cars to a large extent, and those that remain needs to last for decades, not years.


The Electronic Intifada, admittedly a site with a pro-Palestinian POV has a roundup of evidence that Israel killed a fair number of Israeli civilians and military during the Hamas attack. I find this largely credible, Israeli troops are largely incompetent; Israel was taken entirely by surprise and Israel has the “Hannibal Doctrine” which instructs its own troops to kill Israelis rather than let them be kidnapped.


A reminder that it’s my annual fundraiser. This is a reader supported outlet and the work is impossible without your help. If you like the content and can afford to give or subscribe, please do. (A couple new rewards will be announced on Monday.)


This chart shows the age breakdown of reported deaths in Gaza. The mode age is 5. Granted this is fairly close to the population pyramid, it shows that Israeli bombing is indiscriminate: they’re trying to kill as many civilians as possible, not to hit Hamas soldiers specifically.


Rishi Sunak is the current Prime Minister of Britain and was Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Covid pandemic. We now have some evidence, admittedly alleged, that he just wanted to let Britains die of Covid. Not a surprise, but the confirmation is needed by some.


For what is years now I have been saying that each Covid infection makes the next one more likely to be worse, and increases the odds of Long Covid. Another study comes in saying that.


While China has the most patents these days, in terms of scientific citations it lags behind. (This isn’t my favorite metric and never has been, but it’s not completely meaningless.) They still lag. The US in 2022 had 37.5%, down from 43.3% five years ago, and China had 17.9%, up from  7.9% five years ago. Britain comes in third. Even taken seriously (gaming of citations is an academic disease and English speaking nations have a structural advantage due to how the journal industry is set up), China is coming on strong.


And for our last piece, a study reports that UK forests are facing systematic collapse within 50 years. Bank on it being sooner, and probably much sooner.


That’s it for quick takes 7.


Happy Thanksgiving


Open Thread


  1. different clue

    Why would the forests of UK in particular collapse in 50 years or less? Are they being uniquely strip-mined down to zero? Are most of them actually just mono-species tree farms mislabled as “forests” and therefor super vulnerable to any change in environmental conditions, of which man made global warming will inflict many over the next 50 years?

    If not that, then why?

  2. KT Chong

    I recently found out that China has become the largest auto exporter in the world since April or May, which came as a surprised — because I have NEVER seen a Chinese car here in the US.

    • The Wall Street Journal: China Is Now the World’s Top Car Exporter: How the Russia-Ukraine War Helped, 2023-08-02:

    • TLDR News Global: How China Came to Dominate the Global Car Industry, 2023-06-30:

    • WION: China surpasses Japan as world’s top auto exporter, 2023-05-18:

    (Notes: TLDR and especially WION are actually Western/Indian propaganda channels that are vehemently anti-China.)

    And, the QUALITY of China-made cars has really improved recently. In terms of price vs. design-performance-quality, Chinese cars have already surpassed European cars (except Germany) and approaching Japanese cars:

    • Fully Charged: This Car Proves Just How Far Chinese Cars Have Come, 2023-11-23:

    • The Electric Viking: Are Chinese EVs safe? Breaking down BYD Seal & Dolphin NCAP results, 2023-11-22:

    • Supercar Blondie: Futuristic Chinese EV Has Emoji Headlights | HiPhi Z, 2023-11-07:

    Of course, the US and its Anglosphere allies are freaking out and crying and whining that Chinese cars are a “national security threat”. As the US is already NOT importing and selling any Chinese cars, that means they want other countries to stop importing and buying Chinese cars as well.

    Bloomberg (US): How Chinese Electric Vehicles Could Lead to a National Security Threat, 2023-10-24:

    GB News: Chinese imported electric cars could be a risk to your data and to national security, ministers warn, 2023-08-06 (UK):

    Sky News (Australia): Cyber experts caution Australians on privacy risks when buying Chinese cars, 2023-02-10:

  3. Purple Library Guy

    Ehh, probably lots of other places’ forests will also collapse but the study mentioned wasn’t about those places.

    Meanwhile on the cars . . . I agree that we need a lot fewer cars, a lot more walkable neighbourhoods and so forth, and plenty plenty more transit. But if there are going to be cars, probably all to the good if the biggest manufacturer is rapidly switching to electric; looks to me like by next year Chinese car sales will be about 50/50, and within a few years after that it will be mostly electric.

    I am very much looking forward to the day when demand for petroleum burning drops enough that the oil lobby loses a ton of political power. Consider that by far the biggest backers of the extreme right seem to be oil and other fossil fuel interests. If the oil companies become a shadow of their former selves, our politics could well regain a great degree of sanity, creating opportunities for a lot of good policies beyond just getting off fossil fuel cars.

  4. Ian Welsh

    The US basically makes it illegal to import Chinese cars, and if you do, they aren’t legal on the street.

    Which is a pity, because prices are low and increasingly quality is high.

    But they’re gobbling up the market in the global South. (Europe also makes it impossible.)

    The West is increasingly becoming a closed trade bloc.

  5. Jorge

    California now allows school districts to buy Chinese electric school buses. The BYD company has a plant in Lancaster, CA (southern eastern high desert area, big defense neighborhood) that is unionized.

  6. different clue

    @Purple Library Guy,

    I left a comment but it seems to have vaporised somewhere. I will try again.

    I found an article about what I think is the study of how Britain’s forests will collapse by 2050. The article itself contains a link to the study.

    Here is the link to the article.

  7. Joe

    In the U.K. tree farms are indeed referred to as “forests” sadly most people don’t know the difference.

  8. Joan

    Definitely on board with moving off cars. If you live and work in a city, you shouldn’t need to own a car. And if suburb dwellers want to come into a city and compete for jobs, they can pay to park on the edge of town and get on public transit like the rest of us.

  9. DanFmTo

    Friendly amendment, but I think that chart of Gaza deaths shows that the *mode* of the dead is 5 year olds, but not the median (i.e. half of the dead were under 5 and half over 5).

    The median age in Gaza is listed online as 18, which is what you’d expect when it is described as “half the population are children” so I’d guess the chart of the dead will find the same median age (which does as you say, show they are not being discriminate in their bombing).

    Another alarming stat that emerges from this kind of population analysis is that over half the pre-war resident Gazan journalists are dead. So the Israelis have killed about 1% of the population of Gaza, but >50% of its journalists? That doesn’t happen without deliberately targeting them.

  10. Jan Wiklund

    It’s really sad to see the Chinese fall to the same car fad as the Americans and Europeans did. I hope though that they will understand how economically idiotic it is to rebuild the cities to accommodate them. See for example – every time you double the land area per person the economy looses 3-4 percent of its efficiency.

    For comparisons between cities, see Shanghai is still dense, but can it survive the car boom?

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