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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 Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:33AM (#46044319) Homepage

    How can these particles remain in the very lowest part of the atmosphere while travelling all the way across the Pacific, apparently completely unaffacted by weather or mixing of air strata? It doesn't make sense. Low level particulates rain out of the atmosphere very quickly. If he's talking about high level pollutants in the stratosphere then fair enough - but thats not smog.

  • by Njovich ( 553857 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:37AM (#46044331)

    Great, so will the US then also meet EU polution standards? Or does this rule only apply when you like it?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @06:57AM (#46044421) 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.

    The tricky thing about libertarian analyses of pollution standards is that a 'pollution standard' is actually a rather odd thing (from a libertarian standpoint, from the 'just throwing things together according to no particular overarching theory as the needs of the day dictate' sense, they occur quite naturally): Depending on how unpleasant it is, pollution is anywhere from a cost imposed on others to lethal violence visited on others, and a 'pollution standard' is the state explicitly granting the right to inflict a certain amount of that on everybody else. It's like talking about 'theft standards' for regulating the activities of pickpockets to a certain amount per wallet...

  • Re: The Price We Pay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by buck-yar ( 164658 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:04AM (#46044441)

    We can't regulate China, but we can regulate the US companies that do business over there. My company does 80% of its sourcing from China. The companies that we do business with have zero regard for the environment. How come a company here can't pollute when making widget X, but they can buy that widget X from a company that pollutes up a storm (and that storm blows to California).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:07AM (#46044461)

    For quite a long time, acid rain was causing severe deforestation in Canada, killing fish in lakes and so on, as a result of burning coal in the US.

    Coal has a lot of sulfur in it. When you burn sulfur, then makes the resulting oxide gases with water, you get sulfuric and sulfurous acid.

    Canada protested vigorously, but the US totally blew it off and kept sending the acid rain to the great white north.

    Back in 1983 or so, I watched a documentary movie about this, that had been produced in Canada. The United States authorities labeled the film as "Foreign Propaganda".

    Now, I'd rather than China not send us her smog, but I don't see how the United States has standing to gripe about it.

  • by Kagetsuki ( 1620613 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:59AM (#46044647)

    Very well put. The only catch is politicians from China will freak out if the US tries to put in such restrictions, and politicians from the US will freak out once the EU tries to put in such restrictions. It's a shame governments tend to look out for national profit rather than global welfare.

    Actually, what ever happened to the Kyoto Protocol? That seemed like something that could work and I remember hearing it did have a positive effect, but you don't seem to hear about it or anything like it lately.

  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:49AM (#46044869)

    Forget particulates. Actual sand has been known to show up on my front doorstep (literally) transported across the Atlantic from the Sahara. And, from time to time, going the other direction from Kansas and Oklahoma.

    If something that heavy can be transported that far, the only thing that would change with lighter particles is how much farther they disperse.

  • Re:Somehow fitting (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:08AM (#46044947)

    >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.

    Unintentionally it IS a critique of China; that level of pollution wouldn't be allowed in the US/elsewhere. And for some reason (hint: follow the money), it's legal to import stuff into those regions from countries without sensible environmental laws. The solution is obvious; just don't allow the import of products from "dirty" countries. I mean, that's part of the reason the stuff is cheap in the first place. As well as the almost slave-labour conditions, lack of worker protection etc. If a minimum wage/green protection tax was added to the cost of these products then home-grown ones would look more attractive, even if you just looked the shelf-price. In the not so distant future, when your children are asking why everything (jobs, food, the cost of stuff) is so terrible, you'll be able to say "ha! yeah, you say that now, but for about 20 years back when I was younger you could buy absolute rubbish, from cheap plastic toys which lasted 20 minutes, to expensive laptops/tablets/tvs which lasted about 2 years before falling apart of becoming obsolete, for a few dollars less than they'd have costed had they been built properly".

  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:34AM (#46045093)

    "The health problems the Chinese are going to have from this stuff is unimaginable"

    That ship may have sailed.

    A report from 2007 estimated 600,000 deaths annually - http://news.nationalgeographic... [].
    A recent one, that looks at 100 cities puts the tally at 350,000 - 500,000 annually but another that claims to take the entire population into account is claiming over 1 million. []

    That may not mean much in a country over well over a billion people but it's unimaginable to me that so many die from just breathing bad air.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen