Exporting Jobs, Importing Pollution

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
This is both news and probably political but on the off chance that it is more science and news, I thought I would start it here.

There has been a number of non-political discussions on global warming here so thought I would add this. Of course Kyoto comes to mind, as I seem to recall, maybe incorrectly, that china and india were not bound at least initially under kyoto, so that makes some of this interesting. While the US output is lessening I know we have had some impact on others such as europe?

Just thought I would supply this nugget of info in the ongoing discussion about this important subject.

LINK

Pollution wafting into the USA accounts for 30% of the nation's ozone, an important component of smog, says researcher David Parrish of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By the year 2020, Harvard University's Daniel Jacob says, imported pollution will be the primary factor degrading visibility in our national parks.

While the United States is cutting its own emissions, some nations, especially China, are belching out more and more dirty air. As a result, overseas pollution could partly cancel out improvements in U.S. air quality that have cost billions of dollars.

Among the efforts that could be undermined: the Environmental Protection Agency's new drive to cut power plants' emissions of ozone-forming chemicals and particle pollution, specks of chemicals that damage health. The EPA finalized the rule Thursday.

The EPA will announce limits Tuesday on mercury emitted by U.S. power plants. But the agency estimates that 40% of the mercury that sinks out of the air and lands in the USA comes from overseas.

"A number of things are getting here that we're worried about," says David Streets, an environmental scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. "Some of these (pollutants) are not easy to control. ... I don't expect things to get better in the next 10 years or so, and some things will get worse."

Almost every place in the USA has suffered from the effects of imported air pollution, at least occasionally. Some of the most serious impacts:

• Mercury emitted by power plants and factories in China, Korea and other parts of Asia wafts over to the USA and settles into the nation's lakes and streams, where it contributes to pollution that makes fish unsafe to eat.

• Dust from Africa's Sahara Desert blows west across the Atlantic Ocean and helps raise particle levels above federal health standards in Miami and other Southern cities.

• Haze and ozone from factories, power plants and fires in Asia and Mexico infiltrate wilderness spots such as California's Sequoia National Park and Texas' Big Bend National Park, clouding views and making the air less healthy
lots more in the USAToday article.

Of course it is a zero sum game, and the US contributes to the overall levels of all pollutants, but while some are decreasing others are increasing, that I think is the problem for now.
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,072
28
Washington, DC
The lesson seems to be that polution is definitely a global problem, probably requiring some kind of global solution/effort. Really difficult to organize though as economic development tends to have environmental costs.
 

salmon

macrumors regular
Aug 13, 2004
113
0
Nova Scotia, Canada
Yeah, reminds me of how we feel in Atlantic Canada, with the pollution of the industrial areas of the Northeast United States and Ontario dumping acid rain down on us, and causing polluted air. It sucks, with the same impacts as described in the article. And I'm sure Europe could show a similar study, given the Gulf Stream and prevailing winds across the Atlantic.

If I ever had Bill Gates' money, I would launch a lawsuit against the governments and industry for the damage to our ecosystems.

Pollution and sprawl/habitat destruction is a huge problem, and I would love to see it treated more seriously by the influential governments of the world. And, despite this article, we in the industrialized western world contribute far, far, far more per capita to the problem than China or anyone else. It would be great if we in North America could take a leadership role in pioneering new technology and energy/resource efficiencies, and share that with the rest of the world. It would benefit everyone.

Instead, we keep buying bigger and bigger SUVs and building big-box stores in the sprawling suburbs.
 

Makosuke

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
6,168
354
The Cool Part of CA, USA
This is interesting because it gives voice to the obvious--when you dump stuff in the air, it comes down somewhere, and not always where it went up. Every little bit helps, but pollution control is only really meaningful when everybody does it.

China, of course, will eventually be a BIG issue--they are rapidly urbanizing, and are likely to get a lot of their eventually HUGE demand for power from their own high-sulphur coal deposits. Chinese city air is already some of the worst on the planet (I have friends willing to give first-hand accounts), and pretty soon it's not just going to be the Chinese dying of lung disease.

Here's hoping that the governments of the world will eventually realize that air quality is in everybody's best interests and do something about it.

MongoTheGeek said:
We need to pull people back into the cities and tear up the burbs.
Here here--you can live in the country if you want, and you can live in the city if you want, but things get ugly when you try to do both at the same time. Besides, most nice neighborhoods in cities are a lot more liveable than any suburb I've been in recently.
 

angelneo

macrumors 68000
Jun 13, 2004
1,541
0
afk
I think its pretty difficult to get China to be more environmentally friendly. Given their current situation, taking care of the environment probably would end up right at the bottom of their agenda, also given their culture, they most probably would not even take notice until their people start dying like a mass genoicide of environmental issues.
 

Apple //e

macrumors 6502
Jun 21, 2003
273
0
angelneo said:
I think its pretty difficult to get China to be more environmentally friendly. Given their current situation, taking care of the environment probably would end up right at the bottom of their agenda, also given their culture, they most probably would not even take notice until their people start dying like a mass genoicide of environmental issues.
I think its pretty difficult to get USA to be more environmentally friendly. Given their current situation, taking care of the environment probably would end up right at the bottom of their agenda, also given their culture, they most probably would not even take notice until their people start dying like a mass genoicide of environmental issues.[/
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,991
16
Penryn
stu, your implication was of course, that there is no drift from the US to other countries. Since the US contributes about 30% of all emissions it seems sort of simplistic to not accept that the US is also responsible for pollution in other countries as well as the oceans the surround the continent.

One thing that the Chinese are finally realising is that if they don't do something now about pollution, a majority of the population is going to be so sick that the economy will tank. They're not stupid but at the same time there isn't enough oil in the world to replace all those nasty yellow-coal buring power plants. They are building nuclear power generators at a rate unheard on in the west and they still can't keep up.

Unfortunately for all of us the only way out of this mess is forward, not backward. That means all of us need to stop polluting and especially those of us who pollute the most. In other words, Americans.
 

Mechcozmo

macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
5,215
2
Each time I see this thread on the main page, I wonder why Steve Jobs is being exported...

Sorry for the O/T post, but it needed saying.

And does anyone want to bring up the massive pollutants that Chernobyl caused? Wind currents carried nuclear fallout everywhere within a week or so. That was very bad.
 

Macaddicttt

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2004
993
2
San Diego, CA
Mechcozmo said:
Each time I see this thread on the main page, I wonder why Steve Jobs is being exported...
You know, I was just about to post the exact same thing, but then I thought if would have just been a frivolous post. Hmm...I sense some sort of irony here... :p
 

Similar threads

  • TSE
18
Replies
18
Views
1K
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.