Pollution

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    This morning's email of "The Rude Awakening" (a contrarian economics newsletter) brought this tidbit. Their focus is on finding companies to profit from environmental cleanup. But, just reading about other countries gives some perspective on where the US has been and how far we've come since the horrors of the 1960s...

    DIRTY DEEDS IN CHINA
    By Eric J. Fry

    As the Chinese economy inhales a growing share of the
    world's natural resources, it also exhales a growing share
    of the world's pollutants. Cleaning up China's industrial-
    sized mess ought to become a lucrative business for
    somebody.

    Most investors - ourselves included - have been focusing
    our attention on the companies that help to power China's
    rapidly industrializing economy. We have been investing,
    for example, in the companies, that sell the iron ore that
    feeds the country's smoke-belching steel mills. But now, we
    may want to begin thinking about investing in companies
    that take the smoke out of the belch.

    China boasts seven of the world's 10 most polluted cities.
    The rapidly industrializing Asian nation spews about 13% of
    the world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions into
    the atmosphere, second only to the United States. Now that
    air pollution has become one of China's principal exports,
    we investors may want to consider investing in the
    companies that will help China become cleaner...if we can
    find them.

    "We believe no industry in China will grow as quickly in
    2005 - and for many years to come - as environmental
    protection and improvement," predicts Donald Straszheim of
    Straszheim Global Advisors, LLC. "China has no other choice
    but to address this problem - and it knows it."

    Nevertheless, identifying the problem is much easier than
    identifying a publicly traded beneficiary of the clean-up
    effort. Your editors at the Rude Awakening have not yet
    pinpointed a "pure-play" on the nascent efforts by the Red
    Chinese to become the "Green Chinese," but we are open to
    informed ideas from our readership.

    "There must be 1,000, maybe 10,000, 'Love Canals' in China
    - absolutely toxic bodies of 'water,'" Straszheim remarks.
    The costs of this pollution – both human and financial –
    are mounting.

    "With a population well over one billion people," the
    DisasterRelief.org observes, "the number of people affected
    by pollution [in China] is considerably more than in any
    other country in the world...an estimated 178,000 people in
    major cities suffer premature death each year because of
    pollution. Children in some major cities have blood-lead
    levels averaging 80% higher than that considered dangerous
    to mental development. Water pollution alone costs China $4
    billion per year. Millions of people do not have access to
    clean water."

    The water falling from the skies over China is not much
    healthier than what's already on the ground. Acid rain
    falls on about 30% of the country's land mass. "Acid rain
    in southern and southwestern China threatens to damage 10%
    of the land area," DisasterRelief.org warns, "and may have
    already reduced crop and forestry productivity by 3%."

    ***********

    One thing that stands out about pollution cleanups or avoidance around the world is that only strong economies have the startup capital to make serious efforts. Witness the problems left behind in the USSR's "colonies" such as what was East Germany--as well as at-home problems like Chernobyl and Lake Baikal.

    There must be concern, but there must also be the capital. Closer to home is the Carbon Power Plant system in Mexico, near Eagle Pass, Texas. Its discharges affect the air as far northwest as Colorado and Utah. Coal fired system, but no scrubbers.

    'Rat
     
  2. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #2
    Hmmm... $300 billion could have gone a long way as 'startup capital' in this country...

    Yeah China needs to get on the ball as far as enviro-regulations go. But that in no way excuses the US from any action whatsoever.
     
  3. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #3
    Is this more of the 'they aren't doing it so we shouldn't either' line of thought?

    Or the, 'they did it so we can to'?
     
  4. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #4
    China isnt ran by you or me China is ran by the communist. In this system the people have usually no say period. For something to happen the communist would have to initiate it. Not to twist the subject but look how far back enviro regulations have been pushed back in the U.S. in 4 years.
     
  5. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Naw, I'm just trying to give some perspective, and to sorta show just how far we've come in forty-some years.

    The Cuyahoga River won't catch fire again. Lake Erie is no longer labelled a "dead lake". There are fish in the Houston Ship Channel. There is much less smog in the LA Basin and in Houston than in 1967. We're no longer creating Love Canal problem-sites.

    And I disagree with you, DHM, about "pushed back". While some of the changes might well not have been made, most have brought the standards in line with science and not "concerned opinion". Lemme give you an example:

    Dredging of the ship channel into the inner harbor of the Port of Corpus Christi is always controversial because the amount of Cesium in the sediment is 50% above the EPA limits. All manner of elaborate controls are required in order that the dredged material doesn't escape into "the environment".

    The question nobody ever asks is, "Whence cometh this Cesium?" The answer is simple: The environment. The soil of Nueces County; it's brought into the harbor by rainfall runoff. It ALL contains too much Cesium--per EPA--in a farming/ranching area; an area with drinking-water wells--and towns and schools and playgrounds...So, should we evacuate Nueces County? Not eat of the crops or the livestock?

    And that's why I'm cautious about "push back" and other catch phrases...

    'Rat
     
  6. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #6
    Isn't "push back" an entirely accurate description?
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    I'd go with "roll back." Or maybe the point is, we're not really rolling back environmental regulations in the US in any significant way unless we're headed back towards the bad old days, when we created Love Canals and brownfields, and the air and water got steadily more poisonous. Maybe in that light reducing the rate of progress isn't such a bad thing after all. But lest we forget, these environmental disasters aren't happening now because a new regulatory environment was created from circa 1970 onwards. The people who like the results are now called "special interests." That's you and me, folks.
     
  8. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    My belief is that the vast majority of today's environmental regulations are well-founded in good science and are right and proper. It's an arena where I think a national set of law and standards is far better than state-by-state: Uniformity for interstate industries, for one thing, and no unfair competition deriving from one state being lax while an adjacent state is stringent.

    I favor strengthening some standards as technology and economics combine to make practicable. Some standards seem to be a case of "We've gone as far as we can go." and I'm not sure about either problem or answer in such cases.

    I favor periodic review of standards to see if they are indeed correct, whether "too high" or "too low". I don't take it for granted that whatever is written is by definition perfect or that it need be cast in concrete as forever and ever, Amen.

    'Rat
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Hmmm... is it better to be safe than sorry, or is it better to be sorry than safe?

    If industry is so upset about being over-regulated they have only themselves to blame for their abuse of the public trust in past times. Once burned, twice shy and all that...
     
  10. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #10
    Well I make my living in the environmental protection business, so I'm probably as aware as anyone of the various warts and flaws in the regulations, standards and (most of all) process. You can always find something that doesn't work, ought to be changed and generally doesn't pass the good sense test. Even where it provides me "full employment," I fully fail to appreciate chasing paper for no other reason but. I also find myself full of resentment from time to time for the various and sundry martinets I have to deal with in government agencies. So I get it, I do believe.

    What troubles me is that reform efforts are generally not as advertised. They are more often than not invitations by regulated industries to rewrite regulations they don't like so they don't have to dislike them anymore. Whatever problems regulations might cause, the concept of environmental protection is an expression of public trust. That's how it started, 35 years ago. So where does the public trust fit into the equation it anymore?
     
  11. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    "They are more often than not invitations by regulated industries to rewrite regulations they don't like so they don't have to dislike them anymore."

    Yup.

    Sorta guessing: I've known people that were quite honest and law-abiding when times were good. Let them start going broke and they'd start to skate on debts or leave town in the middle of the night with unpaid bills behind.

    I'd bet some corporations are similar. As long as profits are up and there's no problem with productivity or sales, they go along with the EPA rules. Let profitability decline and they want to cut corners. Looking at net profitability of corporations over the last two or three decades, and the declines thereof, I'd bet that corner-cutting is widespread.

    I remember a Reynolds Aluminum exec whose primary interest in environmental law was consistency and predictability. Generally, "We can go along with any regulations as long as they don't change. We don't want to be like a field goal kicker and the goal posts get moved just as the leg is swung." But times were good, then...

    'Rat
     
  12. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #12
    Having also spent some time working on the regulatory side in local government, I agree. It issue isn't so much the number of regulations, as it is how consistently and clearly the regulations are stated and how uniformly they are applied. The smart land developers just want to know up front what they can do, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. If they don't like the answers, they know they can take their business elsewhere. The big fights come from developers who find themselves committed to situations where they can't get what they expected when they started the process.
     
  13. Xtremehkr macrumors 68000

    Xtremehkr

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    #13
    How many regulations has this Administration fixed, as opposed to simply reduced or removed?
     
  14. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    You asking me? None, AFAIK.
     
  15. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #15
    "Fixed" is such a loaded word....

    I'll say that they've "fixed" (frozen) several and "fixed" (killed) several more.


    The general attitude of thuggery definitely brings out the criminal use of the term: To eliminate by violence or bring about by illicit means.
     
  16. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #16
    True, and I was thinking much same thing as I was typing my last response. It's like "Social Security reform." It's meaningless at least and cynical at worst to label all change, whether it's for better or worse, as "reform." So on the environmental front, we've got the President's "Clear Skies Initiative," which will actually reduce the rate at which the skies are cleared of pollutants compared to the rules now in effect. The thing that's being "fixed" here are industry's objections to the old rules. This brings me back to my public trust point. In what way is the public trust (in this case, the air we all breathe) being advanced by "fixing" these rules in such a way that cleaner air will take longer to attain?

    I know, it's a rhetorical question.
     
  17. mischief macrumors 68030

    mischief

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    #17

    I can always answer rhetoric with rhetoric.... you know that. ;)

    The public trust is served by insuring that their previously fed-invested moneys will enjoy significan gains while it's being used as monopoly money (pardon the pun) by politicians who want more to daytrade without the risk of losong that house in barbados.

    That is: The public will get to trust that the current administration opening a new Casino in Vegas (De- Regulating pet companies) and then taking their pensions there to gamble with (privatized Social Security fed into the stock of those pet companies.)


    This isn't just robbing peter to pay paul.... this is getting peter to rent land you've just sold the strip-mining rights to paul on.
     

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