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Earth Science

Scientists Fear Impact of Asian Pollutants On US 455

Posted by kdawson
from the please-cover-your-mouth-when-you-cough dept.
During the Olympics we discussed the international monitoring effort as China shut down factories and curtailed automobile travel in an attempt to reduce pollution. Now reader Anti-Globalism sends in a story that reveals that monitoring effort to be ongoing, with a bigger mandate: assessing the impact of China's pollution on the US. In fact the problem is bigger still because, as one researcher put it, "It's one atmosphere." Scientists are finding that pollution from, for example, Europe can travel right around the globe in three weeks. "By some estimates more than 10 billion pounds of airborne pollutants from Asia — ranging from soot to mercury to carbon dioxide to ozone — reach the US annually. The problem is only expected to worsen: Some Chinese officials have warned that pollution in their country could quadruple in the next 15 years. While some scientists are less certain, others say the Asian pollution could destabilize weather patterns across the North Pacific, mask the effects of global warming, reduce rainfall in the American West and compromise efforts to meet air-pollution standards."
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Scientists Fear Impact of Asian Pollutants On US

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:09PM (#24850183)

    Asian pollutants come to the US without a penny in their pocket. Within a year, they usually have a thriving business.

  • Their exports are pretty skunky, too. Would you care for some lead paint with your toy, junior?

    Oh, but there I go being all liberal and gay and shit. Really, we should let the free markets decide what an acceptable level of poisoning should be for our children. "But they're using asbestos as a padding for the cushion in this crib!" The free market decided it was cheaper than foam. I'm sorry, but the market's decision is final, you'll just have to accept that.

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:17PM (#24850331) Homepage Journal
      They're learning the art of capitalism from the best.

      Unsafe cost-cutting isn't just a Chinese thing, you know.
      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:37PM (#24850721) Journal
        The oil is being pulled out of the ground as fast as possible, and burned as fast as it's pulled out of the ground. What difference does it make who burns it? If the demand in China were less, it would just end up being burned elsewhere.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:37PM (#24850727) Journal

        Unsafe cost-cutting isn't just a Chinese thing, you know.

        It's not cost cutting, it's just ignoring externalities [wikipedia.org].

        If you don't care about pollution, then pollution controls are unrelated to costs.
        China & other developing countries literally don't care, though China may be coming around.

        • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:51PM (#24850957) Homepage

          Yeah because we all know how very willing USA is to sacrifice anything for a cleaner environment / better world.

          Stupid chinese people! Trying to catch up, teh horrorz!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)

            First off, they are doing things which never occurred in the US at that kind of scale. The US remains the only major industrialized nation to not do things in that fashion.

            Second of all, they're never going to catch up with us doing things the way that they're doing them. The only reason why corporations have Chinese labor is because China makes it impossible for workers to receive a fair wage. Things like the lack of Chinese ownership in so many industries and the purposeful devaluation of their own curren

            • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @05:47AM (#24856429) Homepage

              The US remains the only major industrialized nation to not do things in that fashion.

              Is that because in the US the US IS THE ONLY INDUSTRIALIZED NATION?

              Or are you suggesting that industries polute more in europe? I seriously doubt that USA in general would behave better to the environment than Sweden do. Feel free to prove me wrong.

              Of course they will get better paid later on, this will be a problem for any developing nation but they have accepted that some people will get rich first, but in the end hopefully they will all benefit from it. Thought in very capitalisic countries not every does I guess, Japan and the USA is the two countries with the biggest gaps between very rich and very poor people if I remember correctly.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:19PM (#24850377)

      I recall a documentary (BBC?) on a Icelandic volcano named Laki some 200 years back which blighted Europe. The show focused on a cloud of volcanic gas and the resultant illness that occurred among rural peasants. The speculation was that this was probably the result of silica in the cloud being breathed by those who worked outside. Similarly the 1815 eruption of Tambora caused the "Year without Summer" with famine among the Swiss, and unique weather reported in Pennsylvania. Pollutants are not in this league, but, they can indeed have world ranging effect.

    • by scipiodog (1265802) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:58PM (#24851077)

      Their exports are pretty skunky, too. Would you care for some lead paint with your toy, junior?

      Oh, but there I go being all liberal and gay and shit. Really, we should let the free markets decide what an acceptable level of poisoning should be for our children. "But they're using asbestos as a padding for the cushion in this crib!" The free market decided it was cheaper than foam. I'm sorry, but the market's decision is final, you'll just have to accept that.

      That's just ridiculous.

      Really, if the facts were known about asbestos, people wouldn't buy something asbestos-lined, and there would be demand for another product.

      Buying an asbestos-lined crib in that case is just irresponsible. Build your own!

      Seriously, arguments like that can be (and sadly, frequently are) used to justify the most egregious nanny-state abuses.

      How about a little personal responsibility? Oh, I'm sorry, I suppose it's for the government to decide what your responsibility is, as well?

      Que statist vs. libertarian flamewar in 3, 2, 1....

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:56PM (#24852599) Journal

        Really, if the facts were known about asbestos, people wouldn't buy something asbestos-lined, and there would be demand for another product.

        That sounds like a pretty naive statement. The consumer in general is very nearly powerless compared with the corporation when it comes to actually finding out the facts. It's not like the company is going to say, "Buy our new product---now with more asbestos and lead paint." That's why we have product safety laws. The consumer generally isn't in a position to judge whether a product is safe because the consumer is not and cannot reasonably be expected to be an expert in every possible field (chemistry, metallurgy, etc.).

        The consumer similarly can't reasonably be expected to keep mental track of every possible dangerous substance that might be in a product. Human memory covers the big two or three---lead, asbestos, mercury---but when you're buying toothpaste, do you know to look in the ingredients list and avoid buy products that contain diethylene glycol? Tetrachlorobiphenyl? Methyl tertiary butyl ether? For that matter, without consumer protection laws, do you honestly expect that the manufacturers would continue to list ingredients at all? After all, if you don't list the ingredients, you can get away with cutting corners. And lest you believe that one business would rat out the other to gain a market advantage if they caught them doing something unsafe, that business will just rat out the other one (whether truthfully or not), and nobody will know who to believe, so they'll just keep buying what they've always bought.

        How about a little personal responsibility? Oh, I'm sorry, I suppose it's for the government to decide what your responsibility is, as well?

        I agree that consumers should take personal responsibility for egregious abuse---somebody suing for injury because he stuck his hand into a toaster, for example---but that doesn't mean it's acceptable for a company to build a lawnmower with no cover over the blades and "let the market decide". A reasonable degree of protection from egregious abuse by companies is just as important as having a reasonable degree of protection from frivolous suits by complete idiots. You really have to draw a line somewhere or the corporations will walk all over you.

  • Fortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:12PM (#24850239) Homepage

    ... the solution is simple. Just forbid imports from polluting Chinese factories.

    • by AioKits (1235070) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:16PM (#24850321)
      While we're at it, I want a pony!
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:43PM (#24850801)
      That might sound a bit trollish, but that's basically what is happening. US companies get stuff made in China because it is cheaper and much of that cheapness comes due to laxer environmental concerns and because the governments in places like China don't succumb to NIMBY concerns.

      If you consider pollutants as a consumption issue, rather than as a production issue, then USA, being the largest consumers, should take some of the environmental responsibility too: That electronic gizzmo cost you $100 + your share of environmental "guilt".

      • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:49PM (#24850919) Journal

        To be fair to China, America had it's own "setting rivers on fire" stage during our industrial revolution, and that stage lasted decades, no doubt affecting China with our pollution. It's a bit of "pulling the ladder up after us" to insist that China take a harder path than we did during their industrial revolution.

        • by Ogive17 (691899) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:27PM (#24852293)
          Considering the knowledge and technology gains since then, I do think it's completely fair to set the standards higher. Just because WE did it doesn't make it right... and let's look at the population difference... I'm taking a wild guess, but the Chinese population is probably at least 10x the amount of the US population during our formulative polluting years.. if China follows the same path we did, it will be devastating even if they don't reach the same level of industrialization.
      • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:38PM (#24851653)

        Environmental over-regulation in the US drives up prices for manufacturers and other businesses. This leads them to move to China and other developing countries with very lax environmental standards. Pollution is increased a lot.

        Just setting environmental standards at a rational level in the US might allow these companies to stay here. They could run a clean operation. It might not be perfect or "sustainable", but it would be clean and suitable by any rational standard.

        Environmental over-regulation and utopianism actually results in greater pollution in these cases. Carbon cap-and-trade schemes will just increase this phenomenon. And it shifts pollution to poorer, less-empowered populations.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:54PM (#24851847)

          Overregulation is mostly the doing of companies

          1)Pollute
          2)New regulation
          3)Hire lawyer to fight new regulation
          4)Lawyer find a loophole in the regulation so one can continue polluting while respecting the
          letter of the regulation.
          5)Regulators close the loophole, increasing the word count of the regulation.
          6)Repeat 4 and 5 100 times
          7) Regulations are now 10000 pages long.
          8) Complain about the red tape you contributed creating by not obeying the spirit of the regulations in the first place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The USA are poisening the atmosphere with their pollution and were for decades the global "number one" and if you relate pollution to number of people, the USA is still the fat pig - and now the chinese pollution impact on the USA is measured!?

  • Course... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:13PM (#24850251)

    America only pumps pure clean oxygen into the atmosphere.

     

    • Re:Course... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FireStormZ (1315639) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:22PM (#24850449)

      When the Olympics were in Atlanta did they have to shut down every factory for dozens of miles just go go from 100, to 10 times acceptable particulate levels?

      • Re:Course... (Score:5, Informative)

        by outcast36 (696132) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:32PM (#24850633) Homepage
        no, but they did have to shutdown traffic through Midtown. The effects of this (other than security and traffic management) were a 20-25% reduction in childhood asthma as measured by the CDC.
        • Re:Course... (Score:5, Informative)

          by FireStormZ (1315639) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:39PM (#24850741)

          That study had such crap methodology it should be dismissed offhand..

          1) Not a year over study, they compared two three back to back to back 4 week periods (not year over)

          2) The study covered the five counties around Atlanta which as a whole saw little change in traffic patterns not just the county in which traffic was actually effected.

          3) It measured the decrease of 1.8 cases per day via medicade accounting not hospital records

          --

          None of this is not to say that we don't pollute and that car pollution is noxious but to compare what goes on in Beijing to Atlanta is like comparing locking your kid is his basement with giving them a midnight curfew.

  • Pot, meet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:13PM (#24850253)

    kettle.

  • For years US states have fought over which way the wind blows and as China ramps up *of course* its going to effect everyone down wind. What I found amusing is how they are saying a quadrupling of Chinese pollution (including co2) will 'mask' global warming?

    How, exactly, does on mask global warming? by making it cooler? umm thats global cooling, ...

    So were set:

    If its gets warmer its because of co2, if its gets cooler its because of co2.... that about covers everything..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Idiomatick (976696)

      co2 causes warming. Smog and other heavy pollutants still present in china (black smoke from coal,wood) but rare in the US causes cooling. But since the black stuff is bad looking we clear that up so we only get the warming effect of the co2.

    • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:20PM (#24850399) Homepage Journal
      Well, I don't know if you noticed, but you may not have seen the sun during the olympics. Reason: particulate pollution is so bad in most of China you cannot see the sun most of the time. While CO2 certainly is a greenhouse gas - particulate pollution acts as a cooling agent in the atmosphere. Here in the US we have at least some regulation on what industries can pump into the atmosphere, and have really made some great strides in reducing particulate pollution since the 70's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The masking effect comes from a sort of tug-of-war in what goes into the air.

      CO2 increases the greenhouse effect and is generally considered to be a prime driver of global warming. But we all knew that already.

      There's also a lot of particulates released into the air, however. These particulates block sunlight from reaching the surface, reducing the total incoming energy from the Sun, and thus acting to reduce global temperatures.

      The trick is that particulates fall out of the atmosphere in months to years, a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Blain (264390)

      I just watched a Nova about cooling the sun that talked about this. Essentially, particulate pollution makes clouds (as in rain clouds) that take longer to produce rain, as the particulates are larger than dust particles, with greater surface area. Also, these clouds that condense around these larger particles are more reflective on top, which has a cooling effect.

      The folks acknowledged that this may have helped off-set the heating caused by CO2 emissions, and feared that reduction of particulate pollutio

  • by Gat0r30y (957941)
    Our handsomest politicians will come up with a half assed last minute solution!
  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:15PM (#24850293)
    Gotta love the unwitting parochialism in this story- Those polluty old Asians are making all out cheap stuff!

    This is our pollution. If you outsource industry, you outsource the concomitant waste. So do we wash our hands (in increasingly filthy water), or step up to the plate and deal? (A rhetorical question, I know....)
  • Tax us more (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robvangelder (472838) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:15PM (#24850311)

    It's not just China's pollution. It's the world's pollution. We consume the product, and we should be responsible for the process waste.

    Some portion of the purchase price should be allocated to r&d for minimising process waste. Whether taxed by manufacturers directly, or by participating governments.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drakethegreat (832715)
      What do you expect the consumer in the western world to do though? Everyone always says well you vote for this with your wallet but give me an example of how we can buy toothpaste that doesn't come from a polluting factory in china? All the brands are made their now. So am I supposed to stop brushing my teeth? Oh there's organic toothpaste but I don't want toothpaste that does a worse job, I just want toothpaste that isn't going to destroy the world when its produced. Its easy to blame everyone but its a l
  • China (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:16PM (#24850315)

    Isn't the US still number one polluter or did China overtake recently? Either way the per capita pollution is still worse in the states by a hefty margin. Talk about being hypocritical.

    • Re:China (Score:4, Informative)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:20PM (#24850413) Journal
      China's GDP is about 1/4 ours and yet they are putting out as much if not more than we are. That's the inefficiency of a developing economy and weak emissions standards. Had China actually made what the US did in terms of income at the rate they're putting out CO2 every year now, they would be producing more CO2 than the combined rest of the world, all 5 billion of everyone else.
      • Re:China (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:26PM (#24850531) Homepage

        GDP is meaningless... Tell me about industrial output and then we can talk.

        Not that I doubt China's industrial environmental standards are very lenient, but considering that much of their industrial output is willfully imported by the US and Europe, it's hard to criticize them without getting quite hypocritical.

  • Or there's no pollution in the US, never has been. The rest of the world has nothing to worry about from US manufacturing or transport. The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere now are someone else's fault; probably the French till the Chinese came along.
  • Is an administration that has some intestinal fortitude, that will NOT sell out to private interests, and start making demands to curb such behavior in order to be a part of our economy, a partner.

    It is as simple as saying "Look. We do not appreciate your pollutants effecting us in the manner they currently are, and as such, we will curtail our trade with you until something is done.".

    It is our right to do so. The only thing that stops us is corruption and spinelessness. Both curable maladies.

    • by Vancorps (746090) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:37PM (#24850719)

      Well said, it all pretty much started with Nixon when he opened trade and continued through Clinton and Bush. Everyone couldn't resist the money that China had to offer so they'd do anything and accept anything despite the human rights abuses as well as pollution. China never had to compromise their position even in the slightest. At least as far as I'm aware.

      A tax or tariff based on pollution involved would encourage people to buy goods from places which are more neighbor friendly and would be fair since it's based on something tangible. The money could be used to help fund energy research or perhaps even more importantly cleanup efforts. This wouldn't be a bad idea per company instead of per country as some items produce less pollution than others during manufacturing.

      The problem with taxing like this is that it wouldn't really have to stop at pollution as other causes could easily be picked up as well which could start a downward spiral so I'm not exactly sure what the correct course of action is beyond my own purchasing habits.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hoi Polloi (522990)

        I find it prety ironic that we embargo trade with Cuba for far smaller offenses yet we do massive trade with China which is far worse. It must all depend on how many votes you can buy in Florida.

  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:19PM (#24850373) Homepage

    You've mentioned the effects of China and Europe on poor innocent America. Now, who's monitoring the effects of the USA's pollution? You know, that one developed country that still hasn't ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

    Acknowledging and investigating the global effects of local pollution is a worthy endeavour, just as long as it's done in a balanced and open manner. We don't need yet another of the US's "Do as we say not as we do" hypocritical standpoints.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I never bought into this whole argument that China didnt have to sign on to Kyoto but the US does since the US is "developed". Since when is a space age nation and has nukes not a developed country? If the US gives back the moon flags can we go into this protected nation status that China gets?

      • As far as I'm concerned China has every obligation other countries do. I wasn't trying to diminish China's responsibilities, just making the point that America has them too and has failed to act on them.

    • by Vancorps (746090) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:49PM (#24850903)

      Your point would be fair if the Kyoto treaty was actually being met by member nations. Most every nation is improving but they are falling far short of their goals which is the stated reason why the U.S. didn't get involved because they knew the standards were too high and could not be reasonably met without serious compromises to profitability.

      Before Bush came into office the U.S. had tough emissions controls on manufacturing and power generation facilities. Things have gotten worse since Bush rolled back the regs but they still aren't near as bad as they were in the 50's and 60's when entire lakes were being rendered toxic.

      That also said, cars in the U.S. have stricter regulations than in Europe in terms of emissions which is why all the people with truly fast cars have to import them. Of course America has a lot more cars so that is probably why you feel the way you do about our output.

      You are right in that acknowledging and investigating global effects of all things we do is a worthy endeavor.

      Of course with that said, what about the U.S. energy policy has been hypocritical? Or are you just trolling about an obviously failed foreign policy which is widely condemned inside the country?

      The last thing I'll add is that measures are already being taken to improve matters in the U.S. China is not budging on its position and quite clearly sees no need to. I know my home town is cleaner today than it was in the 80's. Here in Arizona Phoenix is getting worse as more and more people move here but outside the valley the air is quite clear and quite healthy which is more than 75% of the state. Arizona is also going to build a rather large solar array just north of here hopefully becoming one of the largest.

      A lot of research is being done right here in the valley to help improve conditions, our malls have recharge stations for electric vehicles. The U.S. is hardly standing still, more can and should be done but why agree to benchmarks you know you can't meet?

      • by Stephen Ma (163056) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:24PM (#24854519)
        Your point would be fair if the Kyoto treaty was actually being met by member nations.

        At least the other countries are trying. The US isn't even bothering to start.

      • by PineGreen (446635) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @02:25AM (#24855575) Homepage

        That also said, cars in the U.S. have stricter regulations than in Europe in terms of emissions which is why all the people with truly fast cars have to import them. Of course America has a lot more cars so that is probably why you feel the way you do about our output.

        Dude, have you seen the size of cars Americans are driving vs Europeans? Or, in other words, when did you last see a pick-up truck in the USA actually lugging something around? And did you ever see a pick-up truck in europe as means of personal transport?

        Even if regulations are stronger, i.e. emmisions per horse power might be lower, but in terms of emissions per vehicle, they are much worse...

        • European Cars (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

          And did you ever see a pick-up truck in europe as means of personal transport?

          I drove from Denmark (Copenhagen) to Switzerland (Bern) recently. I was in Frankfurt am Main before I ran into the first American style 'big ass' SUV pickup. Europeans often drive smaller hatchbacks. The VW Fox/Polo/Golf, Opel Corsa and Peugeot 107/207 seem to be particularly popular in Germany and so are bigger saloon cars from makers like the BMW, Audi, Mazda, VW, Opel, Skoda, Citroen... the list goes on. You also get some CUVs. Subaru and Suzuki are popular in rural areas because they build even small ha

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by qmaqdk (522323)

        Your point would be fair if the Kyoto treaty was actually being met by member nations. Most every nation is improving but they are falling far short of their goals which is the stated reason why the U.S. didn't get involved because they knew the standards were too high and could not be reasonably met without serious compromises to profitability.

        Your first statement is incorrect, see http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Image:Kyoto36-2005.png [wikipedia.or]

        And if that was why the US didn't get involved, where is the alternative Washington treaty with realistic goals?

        That also said, cars in the U.S. have stricter regulations than in Europe in terms of emissions which is why all the people with truly fast cars have to import them. Of course America has a lot more cars so that is probably why you feel the way you do about our output.

        Are you saying that each individual car in the US pollute less than cars in Europe? From a fuel-efficiency stand point this article would disagree: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17344368/ [msn.com] In fact, on average, your cars burn twice the fuel per mile. So you would need to have some pretty fantastic emissions standa

    • Personally... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jd (1658) <.imipak. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:16PM (#24851363) Homepage Journal

      ...I'm less interested in pointing fingers. Besides, the US has a habit of shooting at fingers with hellfire missiles. Instead of "naming names", it would seem better to have a close to global tracking and monitoring of pollution in general, to show WHERE different types of pollution are a problem (regardless of source). You could then add in solar-powered UAVs to collect air samples at random points, where the isotope ratios are calculated and the pollutant sources (not necessarily the factories, just the sources) are derived. The factories can be inferred from plotting the pollution clouds, if anyone is genuinely concerned, but frankly I'd have thought that cleaning fuels and raw materials would have a bigger impact, as there are likely far fewer sources than factories, factories see cleaning as expensive, but higher grade fuels and materials are worth more to their producers. Ergo, cleaning at source will be seen as making money, cleaning at point of use will be seen as spending money, even though the end result (in terms of pollution, money-flow, profits, etc) should be absolutely identical.

      Industrialists are, by and large, not very bright and highly prejudiced towards green-stuff feel-good factors. Which means that something that is good won't be accepted no matter how good it actually is, unless it is presented as something that'll feel good to their accountants. Being honest isn't worth a damn thing, but it isn't necessary to be honest to be accurate. This is why politics is a scam. Politicians don't sell you what you want, they sell you what they want dressed up to look like it's something you want. But you're quite capable of giving as good as you get.

      Honest environmentalists go nowhere, although they usually get some recognition AFTER the disaster they predicted has swept through. Why? Because their phrasing makes it sound like people have to put in hard work and money for something that isn't 100% predictable anyway. Completely the wrong move. Think like Dogbert, not Dilbert, on this one. Dilbert always gets ignored, Dogbert always gets things done. The difference is not in what they're doing, but in the psychology. Dilbert assumes people are basically bright, compassionate and thoughtful. Dogbert assumes people are manipulative, deceitful, corrupt and 100% gullible. Environmentalists need to listen to Dogbert. Dilbert is correct, but will never go anywhere. In mythological terms, he represents the Wise Fool - he knows a lot but his attempts to explain make him sound like a complete fool.

      Saving money has never worked, any better than saving the planet, but if the first part of the "food chain" decides cleanliness is next to richness, it gets imposed on everyone else regardless. They have no choice but to go green. They won't even be aware they've done so. Things'll cost more, but as gas prices have demonstrated, customers ignore that until the last possible moment, and then blame it on anyone they happen to dislike at the time. Use that self-inflicted blindness to make consumers green, and the world will be cleaner within a year without the consumers ever noticing what you're doing. If they say anything, it'll be to flame the environmentalists for doom-saying about pollution and greenhouse gasses, same as they did with Y2K after several trillion dollars were spent in fixing flaws across the world.

      (And, yes, for those who care, Y2K did strike older electronic credit-card readers, older banking systems, and many home and office products - including many of Microsoft's. If they'd done nothing, the world might well have ended. Instead, the fixes were imposed on an unwilling and ignorant population in such a way that they remained unwilling and ignorant. And that is the SOLE reason you are still breathing today.)

      What Y2K demonstrated was that the masses are dumb, but that really doesn't matter. You can fix what does matter without ever concerning yourself with the widespread ignorance in the world. In this case, you can fix mines, quarries, power stations, oil, coal, and all kinds of other resources, with the help of a handful of executives who can make a mint off the deal. Do that, and national follies will be of no importance whatsoever.

  • If the US wants another country to cut their pollution, then it has to deal with its own.

    It has refused to sign up to a commitment to reduce its own pollution, yet would like others to do so.

    Ok, the US may not be the worst offender, but still 'do as I say not as I do' is hardly a philosophy fit for the world stage.

  • partisans on the left, partisans on the right, nationalists of every nationality...

    please shut the fuck up

    the earth is our planet, and we must steward it

    this applies to you on the left: a hands off attitude to mother gaia is complete bullshit in a world of 6 billion technologically inclined homo sapiens

    this applies to you on the right: yes, human activity actually has an impact on our planet's climate, and yes, we must do something about it. we are sorry you are in denial on this subject. please learn to adapt to reality

    furthermore, it does not matter who fucked up our environment, it simply matters that we must manage it, all of us. talking about blame is simply a desire to avoid responsibility. we all have the responsibility for our planet

    we must must find ways to turn up the thermostat, we must find ways to turn down the thermostat, and then, we must actively do this. we have plenty of time to adjust and anticipate and counteradjust our manipulations. the scaremongers wish to talk about run away processes, but we are very much in the middle of a fluid and forgiving climate model. no atmosphere would have survived this long on earth were it so fragile and susceptile to runaway change. millenia of abuse from volcanoes and sun cycles and life processes has proven our atmosphere to be quite rugged

    but not invulnerable, and certainly totally indifferent to our well-being and our need to grow crops. the earth has no problem turning into tundra or desert. but we have a problem with that. so let us actively manage the atmosphere to stay within comfortable parameters. this is of course completely artificial. the natural evolution OR human-made greenhouse gases migth dictate that the atmosphere go to a hellish extreme at some point. who cares WHY it might drift to an uncomfortable fringe state, natural or man-made, are we to simply sit back and suffer and wait for things to get comfortable again in a couple of thousand years?

    no. we are mankind. unlike other animals, we do not adapt to our environment. we wear clothes, build huts: we adapt our environment to us. in this way, we conquer the taiga, and conquer the sahara. therefore, we must begin to actively engineer and manage our atmosphere to our liking, to homo sapiens comfort level. which is, pretty much as the climate is right now globally. freeze the status quo for all eternity

    who CARES who is to blame, if anyone. active management is simply what we must begin to do. obviously, this should be a world body, something attached to the un. meanwhile, if we simply sit around passing the buck, blaming something else, nothing gets done, and we all go to hell. literally, in the case of climate change

  • first they say pollution is bad and causes global warming. now they're saying it masks global warming? really? how can it do both at the same time? i'm getting tired of the double-speak
  • The eastern part of canada receives pollution from the United states. So before you start crying about how others can make your place more horrible, please consider that you too are making a part of the world less habitable. Not everyone likes acid rain you know?

    http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/progsregs/usca/index.htm [epa.gov]

  • Nothing New (Score:2, Insightful)

    by discards (1345907)

    Stuff like this has always been happening... Pollution from one country going into another. Just think of a large river, like the Danube, which goes through 5 or 6 countries, each of which used to dump a lot of trash in it. There's nothing that the downstream countries could do about it.

    The US is guilty of stuff like this as well. The Colorado river had a huge delta in northern Mexico. After the dam was built, the area where the Delta was is now a desert. What could the Mexicans do about it? Nothing.

  • It's ok the US an UK will declare war on them soon enough for it.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) * on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:33PM (#24850651) Journal
    It's actually american pollution. Just think it through. I own a company called Widgets Corp. and we make plastic widgets. The company, based in NYC, made these nasty polluting widgets in our factory in New Jersey. And for the most part, the sales were to people in the USA, as most other countries had local widget makers. Well, times got tough, and to save money in the 1970s, we moved the widget factory to southern Ohio, closer to the coal in West Virginia which saved money in moving the corrosive plastic shit we make them out of and as noted, the coal used to power the mighty widget machine was right there in West Virginia. So, all the pollutants were being belched out of Ohio, killing the local rivers and dumping tons of pollution on the unemployed fuckers we left behind in NJ, and the the HQ in NYC, so as to make widgets for people in the USA. So, is the pollution still American? Yes. In the 1990s, we figured out we could save EVEN MORE money and we haul the whole bloody fucking mess to China, to use Chinese coal, and poop all the crap into their rivers, so they can then ship the widgets on a container ship to the USA for Americans to keep up with their widget collecting. So, the HQ is in NYC, the stuff is sold in the USA, as the Chinese have no use for widgets and can make their own as they need. So, is it really Chinese pollution, or simply DISPLACED AMERICAN POLLUTION? I would humbly submit that carbon bill be submitted to the buyer as well as the maker. And if Widget Corp is based in the USA and has the Chinese make widgets for the USA, then it is up to the USA to pay the carbon and pollution debt, not the Chinese. The Americans could easily pay for widgets sourced from less polluting chines ecompanies, but they don't because they just don't give a fuck - they're interested in the quarterly bottom line and shareholder dividends.

    So, I frankly think that pollution wafting its way from the PRC to the USA only serves the Americans right, and they I think the chinese should can all their pollution and send it to the states (or whoever else hired them to make te crap in te first place) and be done with it. This is not Chinese pollution. It is american pollution coming home where it belongs.

  • Have these people never farted in a room and had someone across the room, complain of the smell.
  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:39PM (#24850743)
    We can't even produce good old American pollution anymore.
  • So is that what they mean when the French say "I fart in your general direction?"

    [badum-ching]

  • Once upon a time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nicklott (533496) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:47PM (#24850861)
    The US didn't like pollution from making stuff at home so it had it made in China, from where it could import the stuff and leave the pollution. Now the Chinese make so much stuff for America that the pollution is coming home by itself anyway. The irony is almost tangible...
  • by caffiend666 (598633) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:50PM (#24850935) Homepage

    Don't single out China/Asia. Countries have a massive effect upon each other. I live in far north Texas, and have seen haze/smoke from fires in central Mexico. I've always felt a large part of Texas's pollution problem is pollutants coming North. I've heard engineers talk about offering sulfer scrubbers to Eastern european coal-power plants to reduce smog here in the US.

    Part of the problem is different countries worry about different types of pollution. In the US, we are more concerned about visible/long-term pollutants than invisible/short-term ones. Some other countries are completely unconcerned about things like leaded gasoline, which is still used in many countries but has been out of the US for decades. America has a bad record, but has gotten some things right in the end. Europeans make a big deal about CO2, but many European

    • tourist

    beaches have incredibly toxic water, or land which is unfarmable. Thanks to American pollution reforms, life is even returning to New York's harbor [nytimes.com].

    Everything is a give/take. People are worrying about energy inefficient bulbs, replacing them with their more efficient fluorescent cousins, but are ignoring the problems those bulbs have with mercury. Or with LED bulbs, gallium aresenide. For example, the life returning to New York's harbor happens to be devouring all of the wooden structures built since they last died off.

  • by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:52PM (#24850963) Homepage
    The US delegation at all those Global Warming summits was constantly saying over and over that the rest of thew world can cap emissions and lower pollution but if China and the like don't join in then it will be pointless. In response for this common sense information the US delegation was boo'd and jeered until they finally gave in an allowed a consensus to come forth that didn't demand anything of China and third world countries.
  • by macraig (621737) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:30PM (#24851551)

    The fact that some Americans are now worried about the effects of OTHER countries' pollution on the local American environment seems hypocritical, at best. I wonder: did the Chinese press publish articles in the past century decrying the effects of American and European pollution on their local environment? The globe was first awash in American and European pollution for nearly a century (or more, depending on whether one assumes pollution only began with the industrial revolution). How can we expect them to not repeat our actions when we've never shown sufficient remorse or reparations for those actions? This article sounds a bit like the ex-Hippie parent trying to convince their child not to try LSD.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smellsofbikes (890263)

      I agree with your statement entirely. However: who better to convince a kid to not try LSD than someone who has already tried it? The old dude who taught woodshop in high school and was missing a couple fingers was *way* more convincing when he talked about safety, than the safety movies.

      I'm not defending being a hypocrite. I'm just saying that if people learn from their mistakes, they're good teachers with respect to those mistakes. To be a hypocrit is to *keep* doing something (like burning 1/4 the wo

  • To be fair... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:02PM (#24851983) Homepage
    The US has been the largest polluter for awhile. China has only just over taken the US. Where was the outcry about what US pollution is doing to Asia?

    What is worse yet, imo, is what western society's computer waste is doing to other countries. It should be illegal to dump that sort of stuff outside of your own country. Then people will think twice about it.
  • Pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:29PM (#24852931) Journal

    I remember two decades ago (and still ongoing) that the US is pumping pollution into the Red River (among others) which travels into Canada. We complained and they said tough. But, apparently it's a horror if it's done to them.

    Perhaps it is this that forces the US to realise that the world map doesn't end at its borders.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:41PM (#24853053) Homepage Journal

    Here we go again, 10 billion POUNDS. I would say that I just farted, injecting nearly 10 gatrillion nano-ounces into the precious atmosphere.

    But let's put 10 billion POUNDS into perspective. That's 20 million tons, or, roughly 2E7 / 5000 teratons or 2E7 / 5E15 or really 0.0000005% of the atmosphere.

    It's NOTHING.

    • by Xyrus (755017) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:24PM (#24854517) Journal

      Oh yes...nothing...except for compounds which are detrimental to human health in quantities of parts-per-million or parts-per-billion.

      And the fact that this pollution is being added to year over year, with increasing amounts.

      And the fact that some of those compounds have no natural mechanism of breaking down in the environment, so they accumulate into ground water, plants, and animals over the years.

      But yeah...it's nothing.

      ~X~

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