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China Earth

Up To a Quarter of California Smog Comes From China 259

wabrandsma writes "What goes around comes around – quite literally in the case of smog. The US has outsourced many of its production lines to China and, in return, global winds are exporting the Chinese factories' pollution right back to the U.S. From the article: '...the team combined their emissions data with atmospheric models that predict how winds shuttle particles around. These winds push Chinese smog over the Pacific and dump it on the western US, from Seattle to southern California. The modelling revealed that on any given day in 2006, goods made in China for the US market accounted for up to a quarter of the sulphate smog over the western U.S..'"
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Up To a Quarter of California Smog Comes From China

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  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:35AM (#46044323) Homepage Journal

    Now, I'm mostly libertarian, but in the whole 'your right to throw your fist stops at my nose' sense I'd be okay with imposing tariffs on products that aren't produced up to US pollution standards, or even trade restrictions against countries that aren't even trying, pollution wise.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:43AM (#46044371)

    Clearly it only applies when the US is on the receiving end of negative effects. Libertarians are very quick to point out that they hate regulation but... wait "not this type of regulation which affects me personally!"

    Libertarianism is institutionalized selfishness and hypocrisy.

  • Somehow fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pablo_max ( 626328 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:48AM (#46044383)

    I have often said to people that there is a reason why things are so cheap at these big box stores.

    I do not say this as a critique of China or which ever country is producing low cost products, but rather as a critique of Western culture and "acquire more crap at all costs" mentality. China is just filling our demand.
    Sadly, we tend not to think about the real price of what and where they buy thing. What the human costs of not supporting our local economy is.
    We do not think about HOW theses items are so cheap compared to locally produced goods. We do not think twice about buying goods from a US company which closes his factories in America or Europe to sweat shops in China or India.

    I do my best to source my goods locally, but it getting more and more difficult. The fact is, local producers of most items cannot compete because westerns are not willing or not able to pay what it actually "costs" to produce.

    Now, the fruits of this are coming to bear. From a polluted planet to not getting a living wage. I wish it would turn around, but it won't.

  • Basic Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:49AM (#46044397)

    Maybe it's just a horrible article, but the numbers don't make sense:

    The team found that between 17 and 36 per cent of smog produced in China in 2006 came from factories making goods for export. One-fifth of those goods are destined for the US.

    Okay, so let's take the average of 17 and 36, we get (17+36)/2 = 26.5. One fifth of that is 5.3. So, 5.3% of smog produced in China came from producing goods for export to the US.

    The modelling revealed that on any given day in 2006, goods made in China for the US market accounted for up to a quarter of the sulphate smog over the western US.

    Ok, so here's what doesn't make sense. If they're saying 25% of the smog came from china, then only 1.3% of the total smog is from goods produced for export to the US. On the other hand, if they're really saying that what they're saying, and 25% of total smog is from US goods, that means 470% of the smog in total is form China.

    This leads to the conclusion that one of the following must be true:
    1. The study is full of shit, and the authors need to go back to elementary school. Or,
    2. The article is full of shit, and the journalist needs to go back to elementary school. Maybe what the study really says is 25% of the US west coast's smog comes from China, of which 5.3% of that is from production of goods for the US. Or,
    3. The paper was written in Chinese, and the translator needs to learn English. Ever put together something complicated made in China? As in, wtf do you mean insert 4 bolts there? There are only screws, and there are only two holes, and they don't line up! Or,
    4. Somehow, perhaps by magic, only the sulphate molecules that came out of factories producing goods for the US get blown to the US, while the sulphate molecules made in other production don't. If these molecules somehow know the destination of the goods whose manufacture resulted in their creation, that could make for some really interesting follow up studies! Or,
    5. I'm really tired and I missed something. But I don't think I'm that tired.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:29AM (#46044555) Journal
    Oh, there's definitely a reason why even the assorted "Green Parties" (in countries that have them) propose pollution standards greater than zero, and why the 'just bodging our way toward something resembling compromise' school of legislation tends to end up at some equilibrium value.

    My point was merely that libertarianism is among the most vexing theoretical frameworks from which to try to arrive at acceptable pollution levels that aren't either zero ("Pollution is violence, one of the state's few legitimate roles is preventing you from committing it unless you, as is probably impossible, negotiate the consent of all those affected") or infinite ("Pollution is a product of me exercising my property rights, state infringement on which is unacceptable"), with zero being the arguably stronger; but rather less well-befriended, outcome. It's not a useful outcome (preindustrial society kind of sucked, and somebody was still shitting upstream from your drinking water); but trying to come up with a theoretical justification for some pragmatically calculated value is quite an exercise (coming up with the pragmatically calculated value is bad enough; but that's at least mostly a technical problem).
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:37AM (#46044589) Journal
    There's a reason why the 'let's have an anti-regulatory pity party' school of libertarianism has better donors; but the 'pollution as violence' model is arguably about as unhelpful to polluters as anything on the table. This might explain why it tends to get left on the table and accidentally covered with loose documents and forgotten about...
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:28AM (#46044749) Homepage Journal

    If thats the case then it'll almost certainly be skewed by all the pollution from shipping along the way. The high sulphur fuel oil they burn produces hugh amounts of sulphates.

    So what? That shipping is done to bring the goods from China... might as well fold it in.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:32AM (#46044767)

    ... is that it keeps us all from murdering each other.

    If we weren't trading with China, perhaps it would have attacked Taiwan by now.

    China is at present far from being a democracy, however it is making great strides in that free speech, while officially suppressed, is still quite widespread.

    While Russia and the US have disarmed to a modest extent, we still have thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at each other. However we are now major trading partners; during the Cold War there was very little trade. For example what at one time was an antiquated glass factory in Russia, received a great deal of investment from United States auto manufacturers, and now is quite prosperously making high-quality glass for automobiles.

    What is now the American Southwest was seized from Mexico in an invasion that had not the slightest pretense of justification. The US also took the Virgin Islands and the Philippines from Spain.

    Japan was at one time a brutal aggressor, now it is a top trade partner with the entire world.

    Cuba came within an RCH of nuking the east coast of the US. While the US still embargoes Cuba, travel to Cuba is actually encouraged now by the US, under certain rather strict rules. It is quite likely that Cuba will be free to trade with the US in ten or twenty years.

    A few years ago, Intel invested a billion dollars to build a Fab in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City.

    While North and South Korea remain bitter enemies and strictly speaking are still at war, there is a large industrial park in North Korea that is jointly operated by the two countries.

    The big Physics lab at CERN in Geneva wasn't built to discover anything. It was built to prevent World War III, by giving those who were once enemies, something peaceful to do together.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:26AM (#46045043)

    The side effect of regulating pollution is the reduction of Green House gases.

    That's what gets me, reducing emissions isn't just about Global Warming and all the ridiculous arguments and fights about it: it is also about clean air and water.

    It's terribly sad that we here in the US have been so brainwashed into thinking short term economic productivity supersedes environmental well being.

    We don't shit in our drinking water so why should we "shit" in our breathing air?!

  • by number17 ( 952777 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:26AM (#46045047)
    China seems pretty libertarian about this whole pollution thing.
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:31AM (#46045627)

    LOL, sure when the EU outlaws two stroke engines. I was in Spain last month and couldn't count fast enough the number of sputtering two stroke bikes whizzing around the city al belching smoke. So as they say: "Physician heal thyself."

  • by rts008 ( 812749 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:56AM (#46045859) Journal

    There's a price for outsourcing production, and now we are seeing some of the price.

    This is not China 'throwing their fist' at our nose, this is China burping after the buffet we gleefully threw at them.

  • by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:56AM (#46045863) Homepage

    How? Each and every "green" technology has some form of "problem". Solar? Forget it the energy to produce the cells is astronomical and the rare earth are non trivial to extract. Wind and water? Better, but you need to build the damned things from some metals. Smelting metals, even when recycling creates toxic smoke and other junk. Biomass? Works sort better, you are CO2 neutral, but the process of burning still creates SO2 and similar pollutants. You can combat air pollutants with filters, but then you end up with highly toxic filters you need to dispose of.

    This also ignores the production of certain substances. Yes you can reduce use of plastic with a wood compound or wholly replacing some materials. The problem is that these materials where selected for their properties. You can replace many but the result is that you basically can ditch a large part of your high tech. You can build a car that has zero emissions (e.g. Hydrogen from solar-heat-plants in the Sahara), but building the car and infrastructure itself will never be zero emission.

    We can do significantly better than now and I am totally for scientific research into this these areas. But zero pollution is fully and totally out of the question.

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