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Earth Medicine NASA Science

NASA Data Reveals China's Industrial Air Pollution 133

eldavojohn writes "China's skyrocketing industrialism comes at a price to the environment, according to Canadian scientists who used NASA data to publish a report on worldwide air pollution (PDF) in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The biggest problem appears to be a bright red mass in Northeastern China around the Yangtze River Delta — a rapidly developing piece of China's explosive economy. There doesn't seem to be a lot of acknowledgment from the state media, but blogs are picking it up as one of the few sources of data on air pollution for the area. The sad fact is that particulate matter in the air less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter is not classified as pollution by the Chinese government, so they have no official measurements to provide. If you're in Shanghai and looking for a breath of fresh air, you've got quite the journey ahead of you."
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NASA Data Reveals China's Industrial Air Pollution

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  • by Rand310 ( 264407 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @06:43PM (#33717376)
    Official government website for the air quality in Shanghai. Decent records, and public. []
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jpapon ( 1877296 )
      Did you RTFA?

      They're talking about PM2.5 - the really small particles, which apparently China doesn't classify as pollution (they're not listed on that site).

      Apparently the really fine particles can be the worst for you, since your body has a hard time filtering them out.

    • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @09:14PM (#33718572) Homepage

      My first time to visit Shanghai was back in 2004. My flight approached Pudong Airport (PVG) from the north (came from Chicago), I could see what looked like hundreds of spires sticking out of the clouds in the clear blue sky. It was so beautiful... ...until we landed that is. The sky quickly turned orange/brown as we descended through the clouds and landed. The moment I walked outside the airport, but lungs felt itchy. What little did I know about those "clouds". Nasty!

      • Same experience here. I was amazed by...wait, that is smog!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MaWeiTao ( 908546 )

        It could have been dust storms. Eastern China suffers some pretty bad dust storms from sand blown out of the Gobi desert and it gets as far as Japan sometimes.

        • Eh, I seriously doubt it was from dust storms. There was no residue left around from them. The kind you would see in Beijing. At least from what I could tell. I'm fairly certain that was pure smog in early July.

          OMG, and I though Houston got hot and humid. That's my home town, and it has *nothing* on Shanghai when it comes to hot, humid, stagnate air (no wind). At night, you can feel the IR radiating heat through the windows at night. Curtains are not just for the daytime anymore.

          • Agreed. Dust may be a small part of it but definitely not all of it, look at the colours for Australia, it shows mild levels over the desert where one would expect zero pollution and low levels over the east coast where industry is located. Prevailing winds blow west to east in Oz so it's unlikely to be pollution that has moved westward.
            • Australia has had record levels of rainfall in the last year which could explain the lack of dust from the desert. Dust is a large factor with these small particulates, look at the Sahara for instance.

              • Skimming the PDF shows they used lots of historical data, Oz has been in the worst drought on record for over a decade, the good rains have only been occuring for the last 6 months or so. The Northern edge of the Sahara has a lot of heavy industry that is no longer welcome in europe. Aussie deserts are more or less pollution free. Also check out the US, the pollution is not over the desert, it's on the east coast where you would expect it to be. At most I think dust accounts for one or two colour levels in
    • Lived in Beijing from 03-08 and pollution was worse than you could imagine. Remember one day on the highway visibility was maybe 3 meters. Most days when looking out of my apartment couldn't see a building maybe 200 meters away. However, I did notice an increase in air quality over the years primarily due to moving the heavy industry outside of the city to clean things up for the Olympics. Also they had a unique driving system put in place that allowed alternating days for odd/even number license plates
  • Ain't that huge already by pollution "standards"?
  • Race to the Bottom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by El Torico ( 732160 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @06:48PM (#33717412)

    This is more evidence supporting the "Race to the Bottom" argument. China isn't known for environmental protections.
    By the way, on the diagram, the northwestern region showing elevated levels is the Gobi desert, but that isn't where the highest levels are.

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )

      but that isn't where the highest levels are.

      I accept your knowledge of geography, but I question your claim concerning the state of 2.5 micrometer particulate pollution over the Gobi Desert.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        If you look at the map, you'll see that the presence of heavy particulate pollution is highly correlated with desert areas.

        Much of this type of pollution isn't necessarily man-made.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jpapon ( 1877296 )

          the presence of heavy particulate pollution is highly correlated with desert areas

          Somewhat, yes, but the North and South American deserts don't seem to have the same issue. Unfortunately data for Western and Southern Australia isn't provided, so we can't use that for comparison.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Penguinisto ( 415985 )

            Depends on local conditions, and at which time of year... US deserts aren't as well-known for having big dust storms (and not much sand), so it's pretty easy to see why the particulate counts are going to be low there. Same with the Altiplano (South America), where the desert floor is mostly hardpan or literal hard rock. You can't blow around what's (in many cases) literally cemented to the floor.

    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      Interesting geography: Shanghai (and the Yangtze) are on the southern border of he red zone. Shanghai is eastern, not north eastern. That would be cities like Qingdao, known for its clean air. Beijing's in the middle of that zone, with it's infamous pollution problems, and sand storms from the nearby deserts. I've just got back from Shanghai after a two year absence... the sky was much bluer than I remember it, and hazy days very much less frequent.

    • I suspect that deserts with naturally constant winds are going to have more particulate matter hanging around in the air (dust storms, etc) during certain times of the year. Take a peek in the WSJ link/image at the Sahara... it's practically empty of industry, yet, well, there's the particulates. Same story over Saudi Arabia's well-named "Empty Quarter".

      Not sure what Europe's story is, though - it looks like it has a bigger dust/particulate problem overall than the US, and surprisingly, more than what we ca

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:57PM (#33718446)

      This is more evidence supporting the "Race to the Bottom" argument. China isn't known for environmental protections.

      Another interpretation is that China is a bastion of freedom for free enterprise. Isn't this what people want, for Big Government to stay out of the way and not hamper job creation, and not force people to do stuff like using catalytic converters and CFL lightbulbs? When people use those words, we must be cognizant of what they are advocating (if unwittingly).

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        China ... bastion of free enterprise? What are you talking about? China requires all foreign companies doing business in China to do it via a joint company with the Chinese Government owning the other half. Then there is the protectionist nature of Chinese regulations and tariffs that favor local companies over any trying to import goods and a number of other things and you hardly have free enterprise.
      • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:59PM (#33719404)
        If this is an argument against completely unregulated actions without any personal consequence, that's fine, but there are plenty of pro-capitalism people who realize that the environment is a shared resource and that no entity should be free to crap all over it. I feel as though you're setting up strawman argument so you can completely dismiss an entire economic model.

        There's freedom to do whatever you want without consequences, and there's freedom to do whatever you want so long as you don't step on the freedom of another. There are a lot of us who fall into the later camp and I feel as though comments like this only end up antagonizing myself and people who share my beliefs. I think we both care about the environment so why can't we work together in this regard, even if we may share widely differing opinions in others?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timeOday ( 582209 )
          Well, that sounds good to me. If the shoe of criticism fits, wear it. But if not, don't.
      • Another ironic fact is that China is doing more to build out infrastructure in impoverished African countries than the rest of the Western world combined. Something to be said for government-run industries run with an iron fist and amoral dedication to economic gain. Thanks to China, Africa stands to advance a lot in the next fifty years without the help of some feel-good charity's hand-outs.

    • Actually, some climate researchers showed a callous attitude toward scientific standards in a few emails, so pollution must not be a problem in China.

  • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @06:49PM (#33717420)
    Well of course China is going to create pollution hand over fist, these are the guys in business that seem to play by their own rules when it comes to anything and everything as long as it doesn't land them into too much hot water with the rest of the world - and if it does, then it is okay as long as the money keeps pouring in. Just in the last few days they imposed sanctions on Japan to solve a completely political agenda! I have even read articles where they installed "scrubbers" on coal fired stations because it was demanded of them, but then happily ran the stations without turning them on as the specifications only demanded that they be INSTALLED.

    The only thing that these guys listen to is the dollars rolling in or not rolling in. Choose what products you buy to support the types of governments that you want in power. It is the most powerful thing you can do.
    • these are the guys in business that seem to play by their own rules when it comes to anything and everything as long as it doesn't land them into too much hot water with the rest of the world - and if it does, then it is okay as long as the money keeps pouring in.

      Hmm, sounds like the same guys we have here. Here being virtually anywhere.

    • The only thing that these guys listen to is the dollars rolling in or not rolling in. Choose what products you buy to support the types of governments that you want in power. It is the most powerful thing you can do.

      Come on, that's too much sacrifice. Can't we criticize them while still buying their products, and just buy some carbon credits or something?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gregrah ( 1605707 )
      While it doesn't exactly refute your argument, I do think that it's important to point out that China, the world's biggest polluter, is also the world's largest producer of solar panels (see Suntech []). So while China's cheap labor costs and lax environmental policies are certainly helping to push the world toward the brink of destruction via global warming, they are also working toward a solution by making solar power prices more competitive with traditional forms of energy.

      I do agree completely after wa
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        largest producer of solar panels...working toward a solution

        Chinese solar panels are picked from solar bamboo trees and not manufactured in mighty coal powered foundries with furnaces and gas deposition silicon purifiers.

      • Here's why: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @07:59PM (#33717996) Journal

        The only reason China is cranking out solar panels like there's no tomorrow? The answer is two-fold:
        1) there was a HUGE and growing global market for them starting in 2007-2008 (when many of these solar companies were founded/bolstered) and
        2) the Chinese government is subsidizing the unholy hell out of these companies at the same time, so as to under-cut international pricing.

        Taken together, the overall plan (and reason for the subsidies) involves cornering the market on mass-produced 'green energy' goods. Notice that they're also pushing like mad to become the top wind-turbine manufacturer [] as well.

        Long-term, its a smart strategy - when the industrialized world finds oil too pricey, guess who will be around selling them cheap and plentiful solar panels, wind turbines, etc? Meanwhile, the company owners are still making money like mad thanks to the subsidies.

        • It sounds like in the case of Suntech, there have also been some technological innovations that allow them to produce solar panels cheaply. From the TR profile that I referenced above:

          The company has broken an efficiency record for multicrystalline cells that had stood for 15 years; one key to the accomplishment was to increase the amount of light the cells absorb by texturing their surface and decreasing the thickness of electron-conducting wires.

          They have also been able to reduce costs by assembling panels with manual labor where possible, whereas in the United States and Japan labor is so expensive that it's more economical to assemble panels with robots (which is still very expensive).

          Yes - they received funding from the Chinese government (and indirectly from t

        • Re:Here's why: (Score:4, Informative)

          by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:54PM (#33718432)
          It's not just solar, China has 24 nuclear power plants [] under construction, not to mention the world's most powerful hydroelectric power plant []. So, they are embracing energy sources besides fossil fuels.
          • Re:Here's why: (Score:4, Interesting)

            by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Monday September 27, 2010 @11:35PM (#33719322) Journal
            The three gorges dam project was threatened by silt run off from the loess plateau. Over the last 15yrs and for the paultry price of $500M they have transformed an area the size of France from a 1000yo man-made desert that was only fit for goat hearding into forests, orchards and terraced farms. The area is now one of the largest producers of apples in the world. The impact on the locals has been dramatic, they have become well fed peasant farmers who own their orchards and run their own markets as opposed to starving peasants living in caves and hearding goats on public land.

            So yeah, China (and the world bank) do some increadibly evil shit but they also do some increadibly inspiring shit too.
        • There is likely a third reason ... anyone having to deal with the toxic crap needed to create these panels has to deal with cleaning up the mess, or processes to avoid creating messes. Or they can have a joint venture and do the manufacturing in a place where there are no restrictions or requirements.

      • it has a lot more to do with their fixing their Yuan against the dollar, rather than cheap labor.
      • I'll give a shit only when the solar panel manufacturers start using solar panels for their power needs.
    • by CliffH ( 64518 )
      Oh, so they're like every other industrialized nation, especially when they start rapidly picking up momentum. China is starting to flex its collective muscle just like European countries, the US, and other nations did in the past. The difference this time is that China as a country hold about 1/4 of the world's population. They will only listen to the world's concerns when enough people bitch and don't buy products manufactured there. The first part of that last sentence is easy to carry out. Everyone like
    • When China was resolutely Communist, you Westerners were always barking about the utopia and freedoms and the Golden Age that would follow if they adopted capitalism. Now that China had shown (as they had historically always been) better capitalists than Westerners and as a results are gaining stature as a world power (again, as they had historically been), it is all environment this, air pollution that. Make up your mind. And have you not forgotten your recent oil spill disaster, never mind the continent s

      • Ok asshole, your rebutal.

        We wanted the population to be free, not repressed.

        They still arn't free, and they still are repressed.
        Repression and Violence Against Journalists in China on Increase [] []

        CENSORSHIP has long been a fact of life for filmmakers in China, but in recent years no director has clashed with the Chinese authorities as often, or as visibly, as Lou Ye. At two of the last five editions of the Cannes Film Festival, with the global media spotlight trained on the south of France, Mr. Lou, 45, has walked up the red carpet to present a movie that was being screened, in competition, without the permission of the Film Bureau in Beijing.

        Every one of those were easily found by doing a google search.

        Now along with having the largest population in the world still not being free, they are all becoming sick from all the polution from thei

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you really want to know how bad pollution can get in this case, just check the former communist countries. They were the same, massive polluters with no protection for the environment or the workers, or even the towns that existed near these sites. Check cement factories, gold mines, just the name a few. They don't see the effects now, not global warming or anything else other than minor discomfort and a change in colour, but in a few years when that crap starts to build up in the soil, in underground wa

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Why do you think so many industries fled the US to China? In China they avoid things like the EPA and OSHA that cost businesses so much money in the US. They can dump toxic wastes in the rice paddy out back and as long as they are making money it's all good. Cheap labor is only a part of the draw.

      • And there's a simple way to fix this. Make the EPA controls apply at point of sale. For any manufactured item, you must be able to demonstrate adequate paperwork that shows that the factory where it was created met adequate pollution and worker safety levels. If it's manufactured in the USA or EU then the local laws will ensure that this level is already met, so it's easy. If it's manufactured somewhere without such laws, then you need to pay a government-approved inspector to vet the factory before you

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Antisyzygy ( 1495469 )

      Its actually a lot worse than that. The Chinese have the rest of the world "by the balls" as it were. We depend upon Chinese goods to fuel our Walmart economy. No company in the US can produce products at the price the Chinese can, and this even factors in the transit cost. They do this by having a low standard of living and unsafe, usurious work conditions which is quite ironic considering the whole point of Communism is to uplift the worker. They apply the same philosophy to their acquirement of natural r

      • by sildur ( 1383455 )
        You are not sure how to fix it because you're thinking short-term, like everyone. To fix it, you have to invest into your own economy, build factories, etc. But takes years and years to do it. The average politician only cares for the next eight years. Well, it's not politician fault. Everyone is short-sighted. Since it takes decades to educate the people, the other way is to channel patriotism into bussiness. To make buying american goods a sign of patriotism.
        • Your solution is similar to Nazi Germany. Make it a matter of pride to buy "American" goods. Channel "Patriotism" into business. Replace "American" with "German" and "Patriotism" with "Nationalism". I haven't thought about it enough to come up with a valid solution. That is the scientist in me speaking. The emotional part of me says to put a tariff on all Chinese goods.
          • by sildur ( 1383455 )
            No, my solution is similar to Germany, nazism aside. Having pride of their goods is very german, before, during and after the nazism. On the other hand, a good idea is a good idea, regardless of who comes up with it. For example, anti-tobacco movement was born in Nazi Germany.
      • The Chinese have the rest of the world "by the balls" as it were.

        Except that they don't. The United States could completely wipe out the national debt and bring lots of production back to US shores simply by printing enough money to pay for it all. The reason we don't do that is because we don't have to. As long as the Chinese are willing to trade real products for promises to pay with nothing more than intangible bit and bytes (i.e. balances stored in electronic accounts maintained by the Federal Reserve) why should we care? The current account deficit is a natural bypr

        • I really, really wish what you wrote were true, but I think it's likely wishful thinking. The value of those bits and bytes cannot be simply ignored without it seriously screwing up a capitalist system. If the global system ever figures out that the IOUs the US has been writing are not worth anything, it could cause a worldwide depression. Maybe the US and Europe would fare better in the long term, but it will be very ugly for many years.

          Do you have any reasoned analyses that indicate that your post i
          • Do you have any reasoned analyses that indicate that your post is realistic? I'd like to read them, if only to raise my spirits.

            Regardless of whether or not we agree to exchange goods and services for US dollars or not, people still need to eat and are still willing to work to achieve their desires and goals. As long as people are willing to contribute to capital production, the particular medium of exchange is not important as long there is one. The United States has tremendous stored capital in the form of educated population, existing infrastructure, manufacturing capacity (despite popular perception), natural resources and unpar

      • It should be pointed out that the reason China does everything in its power to be competitive is because it has no choice. They've got 1.4 billion people to care for. Back when communism was all the rage it was as easy as supplying enough rice, fish, and fruits for everyone, but that put them at a global production disadvantage leading to an atrocious standard of living.

        So now China is raising the standard of living for its people, but that means a billion people need to produce more than just rice. The g
    • Americans are actually worse for the environment than the Chinese.
      For example the US emits 4x more greenhouse gases per capita than China and was the only country to refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to keep the numbers in check.

  • by alexmipego ( 903944 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @07:00PM (#33717518) Homepage

    How come most of the northern part of Africa and Middle East are as red as China? As far as I know those countries aren't that rich or industrialized to have more pollution than most of EUA and Europe... Could it be they're counting sand as air particle pollution agents?

    • Well while I cannot say for this study since I didn't make it, sand is generally considered air pollution by those who live in deserts. Hence the face wraps / filtering issues on vehicle air-intake systems, etc.

    • Can't believe sand particles are only 2.5 micrometers.

    • by jpapon ( 1877296 )
      Yeah, I agree it's a little odd. I'm sure African industry is basically completely unregulated, but still, I didn't think they had enough of a base to cause that much pollution.

      The only thing going against the desert theory is that the North American deserts (i.e. Utah, Arizona and Nevada) aren't red. Australia would be a great candidate to compare to as well, but apparently (conspicuously?) the data from Western and Southern Australia (Great Victoria) wasn't available.

    • by cuby ( 832037 )
      By the pollution distribution I see desert areas with high concentration of this particles. Their origin may be related to small dust particles in the air.
  • This is why many environmentalist pushes to have us cut down on usage are not going to save anything. Sure we should all change our light bulbs but our only real chance to clean up the environment is a massive public push to increase science spending on all fronts. Turning off our AC isn't going to cut it. Even if we do it a bunch of countries like India and China are going to make it moot point and you can be damn sure it'd be war if we actually tried to stop those countries from improving their live

    • Indeed, the biggest weakness of the original Kyoto Accord was the fact they specifically exempted China and India from the pollution restrictions that was to be imposed on more developed countries. As that satellite image proves, the world's biggest polluters--no contest!--are China and India, and these two countries need to be much more aggressive in fighting both air and water pollution in general. Small wonder why both South Korea and Japan complain about the bad quality air being blown west to east over

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @07:07PM (#33717570)

    While many people talk about China taking a long view of things, this is not at all true of China today. In general the nation operates in a very short sighted manner. Do what is best today, never mind tomorrow. This includes things like pollution, but also more simple things like business dealings.

    On a large scale this is just a result of the kind of government they have. Like most authoritarian, command and control types of governments they are good at focusing on something and making it happen, but not good at watching many issues at the same time. They are also good at ignoring problems if they don't wish them to be problems. That is what's going on here. The government is very focused on economic growth, because they want a strong China and that is what keeps them in power. So long as the economy is rapidly growing, people will overlook much else. They also don't want pollution to be a problem so it isn't, to them. They just ignore it as though it'll go away.

    Of course in the long term, this is going to have to change. A system like that is sustainable for only so long. Problems have to be dealt with. It'll be interesting to see what China does, if they start to acknowledge the problems in their current setup and work to correct them, or just ignore everything until a big implosion happens.

    • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @08:00PM (#33717998)

      My dollar is on them starting to enforce environmental controls once their economy has become self-sustaining. Their long-term strategy is to rapidly industrialize now to raise the general standard of living to be on par with or even surpass first-world countries, and figure out what to do with the nasty side effects afterwards.

      As far as the government's concerned, losing a few million or a few hundred million people to those side effects is just an added population control bonus. As long as nobody's too worked up about it, they'll continue as they were. The populace is both kept ignorant of the issues by the government, and too busy making money to care. By the time the populace does get around to caring, that in and of itself is the signal for when the government won't need to push for growth and can start pushing for stronger environmental (and other types) of control.

      The one thnig which makes this an actually feasible long-term plan, unlike the idea of deficit spending in the 30's, is that the Chinese government is totalitarian, which means it is actually able to turn on a dime. So while in a democracy, it might take fifty years to go from a fossil-fuel-based economy to entirely renewable-energy-based, it'll take China five, perhaps even less.

    • Hm...interesting.. why do you think this particular issue is in the long run negative outweighting the country's development benefit? Any particular supporting materials?

      Look, in earlier 20th century, some regions of the US were just as dusty as those in China right now, but now once the industry upgrade is done, look what's like today?

      Somehow many people in the developed countries are very indifferent if not condescending. Just for a moment think if you were Chinese, and you and your country has at least d

  • Bad calibration? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday September 27, 2010 @07:11PM (#33717608)
    It's interesting to see that in Australia the highest concentrations of particulate matter are in the desert where nobody lives as opposed to the eastern coastline where the majority of industry is. This makes me a little suspicious of the low-end of the scale, but it could be due to airborne particulates from soil erosion.
    • If those airborne particles from coming from soil erosion have less than 2.5 micrometers, then they must be as harmful to our breathing as those particles coming from human-made pollution. So it is not a miscalibration or miscalculation, those places really aren't helthy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dakameleon ( 1126377 )

      Yes, and also no. If you'd read the actual fine article over at NASA [], you'll see Australia's white patches in the desert are more likely to be a lack of data rather than "off the scale". However, it does go on to state the following:

      Wind, for example, lifts large amounts of mineral dust aloft in the Arabian and Saharan deserts

      ... which explains why Northern Africa has such a high concentration totally out of proportion to its industrial output.

  • in Northeastern China around the Yangtze River Delta

    When did Yangtze River Delta [] move to Northeastern China []?

  • since everything is made in China and this country heavily depends on coal fuel for the major energy source.

  • Particulate Map (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Remember People.

    This is a particulate map. Not a noxious gas map.

    The reason for the apparent high levels of pollution over the desert regions is due to dust from well, the deserts.

    This doesn't mean China gets a break on this one tho since China isn't an arid region and they don't have the deserts to blame the particulate levels on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TopSpin ( 753 )

      they don't have the deserts to blame the particulate levels on

      Actually they do. They created it by over grazing and farming.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Recently a Chinese delegation visited one of Australia's woolgrowing areas. At the end of an interview conducted by ABC Radio the interviewer asked, "What most excites you about this trip?" The reply was, "The fresh air." If you're interested you can download the four minute interview as an MP3 from [] (see the sidebar).

  • China is horrible and will get worst. The problem is, that if America follows EU's example on taking care of CO2 and Mercury, then a number of other nations will join China in this approach. The reason is that they will have a strong incentive to try and steal the commerce. The only way to quickly accomplish that, is to build coal plants. Lots of them. All without scrubbers. Or like China, install the scrubbers, but do not run them. China is required to install these per a treaty with Japan, but the treaty
  • Particulate matter in the air less than 2.5 micrometers is not classified as pollution by them?
    I don't fully remember my environmental classes because I'm focusing on electronics for now, but the basic idea I got was that if something is put there by you, and it is not supposed to be there normally, then you should try to take it back out. More importantly, if the stuff you put there is harmful in any way at all, then it is very irresponsible for you to ignore it.
  • These 'Canadian' scientist are from: Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China Solid reporting, Slashdotters.
    • Eh? Over on the original NASA page [], they've got "Canadian researchers Aaron van Donkelaar and Randall Martin at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, created the map..." which certainly sounds Canadian to me.

  • I was in Beijing last fall and the air quality there was horrendous. It seemed 10x as bad as the worst smog I ever saw in Los Angeles. During my visit a huge dust storm blew in with tremendous winds. It was almost strong enough to knock me over at times. The next day the air was as blue as could be. Just beautiful clear skies. Our guide says it was the first time he had seen blue sky in Beijing for many months. Sad . . .
    • Oh ya, pile on the anecdotal evidence. Where would science be without your "well, in my experience..." insights.
    • Ah, I rememeber that being discussed around the time of the 2008 Olympics. I said "and that's like saying your air is cleaner than the air in Beijing" as a way to describe a statement that was technically accurate, but due to scope/scale, not very meaningful. Another such statement would be "that's like saying you rap better than Soulja Boy".

  • The major issue with all this, is that although China does produce an immense amount of polution, to a certain extent, much of it is to satisfy western consumption.

    If the rest of the world wants to criticise China, the first thing they need to do is start restricting the import of products that do not meet local pollution control requirements, or request that the importer pays for some sort of carbon offset/capture.

    I have a similar issue with animal husbandry, where the UK has some of the strictest welfare

  • Let's face it, the only reason folks buy stuff from China is because the goods are cheap. And that's because it's cheap to produce there. And it's cheap to produce there for two reasons:
    1. Cheap labour (Very poorly paid workers, most of whom I suspect simply don't know any different)
    2. Virtually no pollution regulations. Factories can belch out pretty much whatever they like, so can use much cheaper production methods than elsewhere.

    Take those two things away by, say, introducing workers' unions and poll

  • ... New Zealand?

    You've left most of it off the map.

  • now, if only nasa data could reveal the industrialized nations' industrial air pollution and vilify it enough, the governments of the world will surely act and put a stop to it.

    but, seriously, why does every comment that gets modded up anytime china is involved one that treats the country as though it were the borg? "them," "they," and "the nation," as though there's no diversity of thought, opinion or action amongst over a billion people. i think that outlook's never-ending claims about chinese citizen

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein