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The World's 10 Dirtiest Cities

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the none-more-dirty dept.

Earth 286

neever writes "You may already know about the pollution plight of Linfen, China. But how about the heavy metals Pittsburghers breathe in on a daily basis? Or the incomparable smog Milanesi put up with? PopSci has culled an eye-opening selection of some of the world's most problematic cities. From the painfully high cancer rates in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan to the acid rain destroying La Oroya, Peru, writer Jason Daley walks readers through the lowest of the low; and explains why, despite it all, there's still hope for these places."

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Bad air... (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23944977)

I don't know which cities are listed as the Popsci servers seem to be down, but a couple of weeks ago flying out of Los Angeles, the pollution seemed pretty bad as can be seen in this picture [utah.edu] of the afternoon sun over the San Gabriel Mountains.

From some of my other travels throughout the world, I am guessing that L.A. is not even close to how dirty some cities can get particularly in Russia. If the air is worse than it is in L.A., then it should really, really make you worry.

Re:Bad air... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945117)

I have a friend from China that was excited to be able to find the sun. First spotting in 10 years. I realize there are a lot of high buildings in China, so you wouldn't necessarily notice it unless you were looking, but that still surprised me quite a bit.

It's come a long way, but you can smell the air, sometimes quite strongly.

Re:Bad air... (3, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945135)

I was staying outside of LA in a high rise hotel a few years ago, and you could see the buildings of LA on the horizon, and they looked like they were covered by a slightly yellow dome of smog. It was very discernible, and seemed to have a solid line differentiating it from the clear air above.

Re:Bad air... (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945269)

"I was staying outside of LA in a high rise hotel a few years ago, and you could see the buildings of LA on the horizon, and they looked like they were covered by a slightly yellow dome of smog. It was very discernible, and seemed to have a solid line differentiating it from the clear air above."

Hmm....speaking of LA.

:-)

I gotta figure that New Orleans, LA is in that list...Lordy, people here have no idea what a trash can is, they just throw shit in the streets. I guess a lot of it comes from getting used to having street sweepers follow behind you like after Mardi Gras parades...or the way the Quarter gets 'magically ' cleaned up every day.

And, as far as pollution goes...well, that little strip from NOLA westward isn't called 'cancer alley' for nothing. Part of the price I guess of supplying about 1/3 of the energy (oil and gas) needs of the rest of the nation. But, hell....we may not live long, but, we live it up while we're here.

:-)

Re:Bad air... (5, Funny)

j01123 (1147715) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945593)

I gotta figure that New Orleans, LA is in that list...Lordy, people here have no idea what a trash can is, they just throw shit in the streets.
No kidding. I was there a couple years ago and I swear it looked like a hurricane had been through there.

Re:Bad air... (5, Informative)

camperslo (704715) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945275)

I was staying outside of LA in a high rise hotel a few years ago, and you could see the buildings of LA on the horizon, and they looked like they were covered by a slightly yellow dome of smog. It was very discernible, and seemed to have a solid line differentiating it from the clear air above.

The boundary you saw between the smog and clean air above is from an inversion layer [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bad air... (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946233)

That's interesting. Here in L.A., when there are strong winds, the smog disappears and you can see the mountains. It's really beautiful. A few days later the haze is as thick as it was before. I always wondered where the fog disappears to. So I guess it rises out of view when it's windy, and falls back into place later? That seems strange.

Re:Bad air... (4, Funny)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945323)

>you could see the buildings of LA on the horizon

So it was a clear day then?

LA has gotten better (2, Informative)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945625)

That's the low inversion layer and no matter how little smog there is in LA, it will always look worse.

I lived in metro LA for almost two decades and the situation was improving over that whole period.

Tokyo, Kobe and Beijing to name three cities I either lived in or visited since have far, far worse problems. Beijing is the most polluted city I've ever had the misfortune of visiting.

Re:LA has gotten better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945865)

Wait, what? You're serious? It isn't the spic-and-span metropolis that some tourist brochures would have you believe, but unless LA has undergone a total change in the last two years or so, there's no way it's even in the same class as Tokyo.

Re:Bad air... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945959)

You see a lot from a distance. I live in the Pennine foothills, above the Leeds/Bradford conurbation [wikipedia.org] . In still weather you can see a brown/yellowish layer over the area. If you drive down into it you don't see anything, though there does seem to be a slight metallic smell.

Re:Bad air... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945151)

You are correct. Specifically, the San Fernando Valley [wikipedia.org] , which is the spawning ground of porn stars and valley girls. Your comment makes perfect sense because that would be the last part of L.A. that you see before you hit the San Gabriel Mountains.

Re:Bad air... (0, Offtopic)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945257)

This is the Helendale radar cross sectional research facility operated by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, the folks that brought you the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Stealth Bomber among many other historic vehicles like the U2 and SR-71 Blackbird.

Would an "an aircraft freak like [you]" care to explain what part Lockheed's Skunkworks played in designing/building the Northrop/Grumman B-2?

Nice photos, though. My flights seem to ALWAYS be overcast/low visibility, so I really haven't seen much of that, despite repeatedly flying over.

Re:Bad air... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945307)

Doh! *smacks forehead*.

I'll fix that next blog update. Thanks.

BLOG SPAM (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945973)

More BLOG SPAM. Are you Roland's love child?

Re:Bad air... (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946155)

Where is the pollution?

The picture of the mountains and the "mist"?

Ever lived near mountains? I sure do in Switzerland. That "mist" might just be mist or it might be pollution. But by looking at it from the sky you can't tell one way or the other...

It's like when people see clouds from smoke stacks and say, "oh look how much they pollute..." It might just be steam.

Re:Bad air... (4, Funny)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946221)

Nice pictures! I also found this quote interesting:

A lovely gin and tonic to start the flight off and the option to stretch ones legs out and work on the MacBook Air in-between looking out the window to take pictures makes every flight much more pleasant.

Is this how people usually turn out when they buy a Mac? :)

Already slashdotted (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23944997)

And it has only been 2 1/2 minutes since the time of the articles posting.

Re:Already slashdotted (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945129)

It has not been slashdotted. They just had to shut the web server down due to increasing HTTP pollution.

come on (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945005)

Air pollution is a liberal myth that is propagated simply to prevent the glorious libertarian utopia that results from the pure beauty of unrestricted capitalism.

Re:come on (1, Insightful)

shimmyshimpson (1305497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945123)

Why is that a -1 Flamebait ??
This is EXACTLY what lassise faire capitalism gets you.
As long as the execs are still ordering Jetstreams, who cares about a bunch of those little people dying in their droves.

Re:come on (2, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945159)

Is that little people as in leprechauns, little people as in midgets, or something else entirely?

Define your terms, you must.

Re:come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945317)

Why is that a -1 Flamebait ?? This is EXACTLY what lassise faire capitalism gets you. As long as the execs are still ordering Jetstreams, who cares about a bunch of those little people dying in their droves.
You must be new here. Slashdot is the home of the ultra right-wing fucktard.

Re:come on (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945805)

Re:come on (2, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946065)

soviet russia was no more proper socialist than capitalist america, both subverted the will and well being of the people for the benefit of the wealthy and connected

Re:come on (0, Redundant)

colmore (56499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945295)

satire isn't flamebait, mod parent up

Re:come on (4, Funny)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945639)

Yeah I know! Penn and Teller totally debunked the existence of air pollution on "Bullshit!". People are SO naive.

Re:come on (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945667)

Won't someone think of the companies!? Won't someone PLEASE think of the companies!?! *sobs hysterically*

Dirtiest (4, Funny)

mqduck (232646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945009)

While reading the title of this article, my interest peaked just before I realized that by "dirtiest", it was actually talking about dirt.

The City You're Looking For (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945091)

Portland, Oregon.

Highest percapita strip club concentration, and legalized live sex shows. And while not all the ladies shave, pretty much all of them are down.

Re:The City You're Looking For (3, Funny)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946291)

How do you find those things out? I just googled for live sex shows and got 16800000 hits. Should I check them all?

Re:The City You're Looking For (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23946433)

Why not? It sounds like a worthwhile enterprise.

Re:Dirtiest (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945139)

Perhaps thats why the site is slashdotted so hard.

Re:Dirtiest (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945315)

the word you're looking for is 'piqued.' peaked is tent in your pants.

Re:Dirtiest (1)

Tolkien (664315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945479)

Who says it was a typo? I'd have gone for +1 pun. :)

"The oceans were full..." (5, Funny)

Caboosian (1096069) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945031)

It may not be a city, but New Jersey deserves at least an honorable mention.

Re:"The oceans were full..." (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945073)

What, as the world's biggest landfill? :D

Re:"The oceans were full..." (1)

Beefslaya (832030) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945153)

Washington, D.C. :-)

Re:"The oceans were full..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945495)

We aren't talking about the people.

You want bad air...? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945061)

Take him to Detroit!

Re:You want bad air...? (2, Funny)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945075)

Or my apartment after eating a Crave Case full of White Castle cheeseburgers. Oof!

Re:You want bad air...? (3, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945175)

This cryptic gem is a reference to a sketch in Kentucky Fried Movie [imdb.com] called "A Fistful of Yen", which is arguably the best sketch of the movie besides Rex Cramer -- Danger seeker.

digg (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945081)

/. seems to be turning into digg with all these 'worlds #' topics...

Re:digg (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945765)

As well as links to blogs...

Re:digg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945871)

DIGG THIS COMMENT UP!

Asuncion is dirtier! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945093)

You should really check on Asuncion, Paraguay, or San Lorenzo, Paraguay. I lived there most of my life and it's really dirty there.

Pittsburgh for University..... (3, Funny)

Forvak (980121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945099)

Ay! I've just signed myself up for four years of university in Pittsburgh. Anyone know a good method of limiting heavy metal exposure in such an environment.... Wait... Why would I want that?.. I'll be IRON MAN!

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945341)

Pittsburgh today isn't anywhere near as dirty as it once was, or even what many people would think it might be. Most of any remaining steel-related dirt comes from the coke works in nearby Clairton, and I think U.S. Steel has plans to modernize or clean up that facility in the near future.

But I do have photographs of Pittsburgh "back in the day" with people driving around at noon with their headlights on!

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (3, Informative)

thereofone (1287878) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945501)

Not only that, but the methodology was a lil flawed in that the main sensor was maybe a mile from the coke works and not really the city proper. What also comes in to play is the number of coal power plants still kickin' in Ohio, West Virgina, New York and central PA; that's a problem in most of the rust belt.

It certainly isn't a progressive utopia like Portland or Seattle (maybe I'm a little bitter as people I know are moving there at an impressive pace), but it's doing much better as parent post noted.That said, the only bad air I tend to notice is the stench of substandard student housing in the "college" neighborhood :P

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (4, Informative)

TimedArt (937097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945589)

---quote---
Ay! I've just signed myself up for four years of university in Pittsburgh. Anyone know a good method of limiting heavy metal exposure in such an environment.... Wait... Why would I want that?.. I'll be IRON MAN!
---end quote---

Pittsburgh is a very different city than many Americans picture. There's only a small part of the city that actually has the pollution levels cited in the study. Steel and coke works have given way to robotics and medical research. Disclosure: I am finishing a graduate degree at Pitt right now. I may be biased, but I do hope a new study is done that covers the city as a whole.

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (1)

Forvak (980121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945779)

I was being facetious with my worries. Before accepting the university (Carnegie Mellon) I definitely looked at Pittsburgh and the area. I'm very excited and am looking forward to exploring the city, particularly the symphony!

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (1)

jaaron (551839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946073)

Have fun. Lived in or near Pittsburgh most of my life. CMU is great. Man, what I wouldn't give for a good Primanti's sandwich.

At Pitt... (2, Funny)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945635)

Your greatest heavy metal risk is an object around 100 - 250 grains moving at roughly Mach 1.1.

To avoid exposure, Kevlar is reccomended. To avoid repeat exposure, first puchase a return mechanism, minimum size 9mm, but preferentially .45" in diameter. Second, obtain permission from the Allegheny County Sheriff to posesss such mechanism in any place desired. Third, have such mechanism available.

Seriously - Pitt is in the middle of Oakland, and right next to "Da Hood" (The Hill District). Lived there, been there, avoid it at almost any costs now.

Re:Pittsburgh for University..... (1)

cavis (1283146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945837)

Heavy metal... Iron Man... are we talking about Robert Downey Jr or Black Sabbath? Both come with pretty expensive drug habits, and I doubt the University pays THAT well.

canada = clean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945127)

i live in canada
its clean here :) .....
except sudbury ew

Re:canada = clean (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945663)

No wonder. Only bears and ice there.

It doesn't have to be that way... (5, Interesting)

shanen (462549) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945137)

Server is already /.ed?

Anyway, I live in one of the minor million-plus cities of Japan near Tokyo, and I just want to note that you can have a high-tech, high-quality lifestyle without destroying your environment. Whenever I hear a story like this, I think about running into quail the morning, almost literally. They are sometimes foraging within a few feet of the gate, and they figure people are basically harmless to about 3 meters. There's a little river two stations up, and it's heavily populated with half-meter carp. I walked about half a kilometer along it the other day, and there were almost always fish visible, and sometimes scores of fish. It's a matter of priorities, I think--but I was annoyed a couple of years ago when they cut down a pretty large bamboo grove and built a bunch of houses there...

Not sure of all of the reasons, but I feel like good mass transit is a big chunk of it. Heavy recycling probably helps, though they recently increased the garbage collection taxes quite a bit.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (1)

Acapulco (1289274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945253)

Maybe here's the same list.
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1661031_1661028_1661016,00.html [slashdot.org]

I'm not completely sure, but it mentions Linfen and La Oroya at least.

Also, I can't believe Mexico City is not listed there.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (4, Informative)

Acapulco (1289274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945335)

Sorry to be replying myself. I made a mistake in the link above.

Correct one: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1661031_1661028_1661016,00.html [time.com]

Also, here's a very different list,
http://www.forbes.com/2008/02/24/pollution-baku-oil-biz-logistics-cx_tl_0226dirtycities_slide_26.html?thisSpeed=30000 [forbes.com]
using the Mercer Health and Sanitation Index Score as the ranking value.

The first five are:
- Baku, Azerbaijan
- Dhaka, Bangladesh
- Antananarivo, Madagascar
- Port au Prince, Haiti
- Mexico City, Mexico

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (4, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945325)

Anyway, I live in one of the minor million-plus cities of Japan near Tokyo, and I just want to note that you can have a high-tech, high-quality lifestyle without destroying your environment.
The thing is the worst places typically aren't high-tech, high-quality life. They are industrial enough to attract large population concentrations, but not developed enough to have resources for mass transit, sanitation, and other health improvements.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (2, Informative)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945551)

Carp are normally vegetarian but seem to also congregate around sewage discharge into streams and rivers. So they are not necessarily a sign of a healthy environment. But I think in Japan they are popular fish, while in the US they are considered foreign invasive species. In PA you could legally shoot them with a bow and arrow.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945603)

Carp are no evidence of anything. I've seen them living in pretty poor water that most other fish can't tolerate.

Root word of Carp is Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945715)

Root word of Carp is Crap. That tells it all.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945891)

> There's a little river two stations up, and it's heavily populated with half-meter carp. I walked about half a kilometer along it the other day, and there were almost always fish visible, and sometimes scores of fish.

You're in Japan. You don't need to be near a river to see fish.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (2, Informative)

OutLawSuit (1107987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946163)

Geography also plays a large role. If a city is surrounded by mountains like Los Angeles or Mexico City, there's no way for the smog to escape.

Re:It doesn't have to be that way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23946249)

Japan is extremely good at exporting it's enviromental problems to other countries. For instance, 64% Japan is still covered with forest but it is one of the largest importers of softwood and forestry products in the world behind the US and China. Much of this comes from unsustainable cutting of old-growth Tropical forests.

Slashdotted already? (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945157)

Guess they weren't used to actually being popular...

Re:Slashdotted already? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945181)

This website has been under the strain of Digg all day, and then slashdot comes around... think of how many other places people are flooding it from?

They want to get to #1 (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945271)

Having ionized server in the atmosphere should increase the level of air pollution substantially.

Sepultura FTW! (3, Interesting)

Siener (139990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945409)

Actually they only get second place on this list (Cubatao, Brazil).

From the lyrics of their 1993 song Biotech is Godzilla:

Like Cubatao
"World's most polluted town"
Air-melts your face
Deformed children all around

Cancer not related to environmental factors. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945447)

No doubt, the residents of Sumgayit, Azerbaijan have a high cancer rate simply because they are living longer, and not because of any environmental factors.

Advertisement for World Bank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945461)

What was up with just about every single image caption saying how "The World Bank is going to step in and help with the cleanup."

What does the World Bank have to do with pollution controls? Or a better question, should the World Bank have anything to do with pollution controls?

Re:Advertisement for World Bank (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945583)

I don't know what WB could do about pollution, maybe lend money to try to "clean" actual pollution meanwhile the origin of the contamination stills alive and well? because even if you try to close the polluting factories, the same people will say NO because sometimes that factories are the only source of employment in the region. Look at every example, every one it's an special case related to some kind of industry.

Good news is that theres is something called the Kioto Protocol! And everyone signed it! no?

Gotham City!! (1)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945467)

is the dirtiest.

The list please (2, Insightful)

Ranger (1783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945537)

Just give me the damn list. I don't want to click through every goddamn picture so I can watch your stupid ads. If you think I'm being insensitive, then why do the people who present the info put a different name and picture on separate web pages so you can see a new ad every time you click on a link.

And the other thing, since most of the slashdotters are in North America unless they live in or near a hazardous city, they don't give a rat's ass. There are plenty of dirty communities here and they are disproportionately affect minorities.

Re:The list please (3, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945643)

Milan, Italy
Norilsk, Russia
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mexico City, Mexico
Dakar, Senegal
Sumgayit, Azerbaijan
Linfen, China
La Oroya, Peru
Cubatao Valley, Brazil
Kabwe, Zambia

Poor Pittsburgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945547)

Does anybody else think it's funny that Pittsburgh is the only city not responsible for its pollution? The article claims that industry has long left the area, meaning the air pollution has to come from neighboring Ohio industries.

dom

Re:Poor Pittsburgh (1)

Dadoo (899435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945689)

Sorry, I've got to question the research on this one. I'd love to know when they took that picture, too. I lived in Pittsburgh most of my life, and I've never seen a day that looked even close to that.

Re:Poor Pittsburgh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23946189)

According to http://flickr.com/photos/saeru/1466473828/ [flickr.com] it was taken at 2007:09:29 08:59:49.

The link also indicates that it's fog, not smog.

dom

Pollution (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945575)

And this is why we must reduce CO2 emissions, like, RIGHT NOW, before it destroys the planet. Man-made CO2 pollution is the worst evil threat the planet has ever faced and the only way to deal with it is to Kyoto so that polluters can buy credits and send money (somewhere) in order to continue to pollute. The fact that the two largest emerging world economies on the planet are exempt/opted-out from Kyoto is irrelevant. Quick, before the bubble bursts and we all die!

Re:Pollution (1)

Pjotr (88015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945749)

CO2 pollution is definitely a problem we have to tackle. It is unfortunate few people realize we are going to add as much CO2 to the atmosphere in the coming 10 years as we did in the last 40. So if we have a problem now...

Unfortunately, yes, CO2 confronts us now. But there will be other problems to follow, which may be even worse. We have to change the way we deal with our environment - i.e. the way we consume - to survive.

Re:Pollution (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945823)

OK, so who is "we", who is going to be paying carbon/trade taxes and who will be adding all this CO2 to the atmosphere in the coming 10 years? If wealthy, polluting industries "pay to pollute", does that actually reduce emissions? Where does the money go? How much time will it take until "we" are safe again? Will we see objectively measured results that all parties agree on? Is it a 10 year, 20 year, 50 year plan to save the planet? So many questions.

Re:Pollution (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946185)

It works like this:

The main reason Coal is being used to produce electricity rather than say Nuclear, Wind Power and Solar is price. Coal is cheap. If you impose a carbon tax , however, forcing companies that emit a lot of CO2 to pay for it, then that will make electricity generation from coal more expensive, and thus hopefully cause electric utility companies to build nuclear power plants, wind turbines, and solar panels, instead.

The idea is that you integrate the environmental cost of pollution into the market system, thus forcing supliers to take environmental concerns into consideration when making business decisions. Now, while flat out taxation is one way to achieve this, it is very difficult to determine how much to charge for a given amount fo environmental damage, and this is where tradeable emission permits comes into play. Rather than taxing companies directly, what you do is you decide how much of a certain pollutant we can emit without causing major trouble, and then you auction it off to highest bidder. That way you force the market to adapt to a lower emission scenario, and the price adjusts itself according to normal market principles. With time you can then reduce the "acceptable" level of emissions as technology improves, periodically reducing the amount of pollution.

The catch is of course that this WILL have negative effects on other aspects of the economy. The important thing to realize is that this is not some new negative effect the government has created, it is a price that we were previously paying in terms of environmental damage. What tradeable permits do is to limit the extent to which manufacturers can impose that cost on everybody, and instead put it right down where it belongs , with the consumers that use goods and services that generate pollution during their production. Yes, I said consumers, not companies. Manufacturers will on pass the cost to the consumers, in the form of higher prices, and this will in turn reduce demand.

"Oh but you can tax as much as you want people still want to drive their cars... blah blah blah...". This is why you use tradeable permits rather than direct taxation. Tradeable permits outright forces the market to adapt meaning prices will increasethe UNTIL they are high enough that demand drops. When it comes to goods that people consume a lot regardless of price ( such as gasoline ) this trabnslates into a large price increase. When it comes to things you can eaisly replace with other things, the increase in price will be smaller.

The real problem is that the cost of CO2 is really really large. Emitting it causes major damage to the planet, curtailing it causes huge costs to the environment. There isn't an easy solution to this, which is why a number of peopel prefer sticking their head in the sand and deny the whole thing. I am seriously very sceptical to weather the necessary measures will be taken. People won't put up with a 3 fold increase in energy prices ( which is where wind power is relative to coal and nuclear ) so if we hope to get rid of coal it would appear that unless we get a sudden breakthrough in solar, only Nuclear has a chance to save us. Somewhat ironically, the most hardline environmentalist groups oppose it almost religiously, and thus it woudl appear we will be stuck with coal for a long time.

Re:Pollution (2, Insightful)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946297)

If wealthy, polluting industries "pay to pollute", does that actually reduce emissions?

Err... yes. "Pay to pollute" => pollution costs money => you can make a bigger profit by lowering costs, in the form of pollution => Profit! Oh, and Environmental Quality! Economics 101, hello?

Where does the money go?

That depends on the scheme. Some governments issue the certificates for free and let the industry trade amongst itself. The money then goes to whoever sells their certificates i.e. whoever pollutes the least. How much is polluted then depends primarily on how many certificates are issued.
Alternatively the goverment can sell the certificates. This isn't a bad idea, because that way the Gov't gets the money and can fund environmental cleanups (or minister junkets, whatever). Biggest problem is the fact that the government may set a too low or too high price.

You can get the benefits of both by having the government sell a fixed number of certificates (who gets to buy them is another issue) and letting the secondary market take care of the process of marginal cost/benefit equalisation. The issue price would have to be below the market equilibrium price, but with a bit of practice the government can figure it out.

Current practice in the EU, AFAIK, is Model 1: issue the the certificates, let the market trade. In the last few years there were far too many permits on the market, so that the costs for a ton of CO2 were somewhere around 0.26â, but this year it's around 20â, I think (haven't checked the market recently).

I don't know what the GP meant with his "two largest emerging world economy haven't signed the Kyoto protocol" statement: Brazil, China, and India have all ratified it.

Answers to the OP's further questions can be found in the Kyoto protocol itself:
Full Text [unfccc.int]
Layman's guide [mindprod.com]

Oh, come on Slashdot! (1)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946309)

No Euro symbol support? WTF?

Re:Pollution (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945993)

Actually... if you read the list, CO2 by itself is not the *biggest* immediate problem we have. Sure, it contributes to global warming, but the huge health problems present in all of the listed cities are caused by *particulates* in the air, like heavy metals, soot, etc etc. These are far more dangerous to the immediate health of the people than CO2. The upside is that the two are somewhat linked.

Re:Pollution (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946181)

So a non-sequitur post filled with strawman arguments is gut-bustingly funny these days? I must have missed the announcement.

So, are you dismissing environmental threats altogether, or are you trying to say that global warming distracts us from real environmental issues such as the ones depicted in the article, or what are you driving at?

WTF!! is this DIGG (0, Offtopic)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945703)

I thought my RSS news notification program had mixed DIGG's article with /. for a second there, first I see "9 largest Science projects" then "!0 Worlds dirtiest cities", what next "11 Ways to code and still have a life"..

Gloucester. (0, Flamebait)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945757)

The dirtiest city of them all is Gloucester, MA.

Does anybody know more comprehensive list? (4, Interesting)

llirik (1074623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23945835)

It would be nice to find a list of all major cities ranked by their pollution level. I would be curious to see NYC vs London vs Paris vs Tokyo vs Beijing.

Ask and ye shall.. be disappointed (1)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946109)

I haven't been able to find an international index of air quality (I don't have my statistic search engines bookmarked at work, sorry), but AirNow [airnow.gov] has a list of individual international indices.

I'm not even sure there is an single international index, due to the different standards and technological possibilities. Okay, if we're just talking fine particulates, ozone, CO2, NOX, and SOX (no, not Sarbanes-Oxley) in major western cities, then you could find something. But I wouldn't place any money on the monitoring in Mumbai being as good as the monitoring in Munich.

questionable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23945935)

The ranking makes pathetically little sense. Wonder where they get the data. Pittsburgh is even on the list?

Re:questionable (1)

jaaron (551839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946043)

Agreed. Seems like they took 10 random cities.

In Beijing at the moment (5, Interesting)

sith (15384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946033)

The first time I visited Beijing, I was frankly shocked that life can exist in this environment. I'm in Beijing again right now, and have just gotten used to the idea that you need to budget some time each morning to hack up gunk from your lungs. I'm less than 1 kilometer from the forbidden city at the moment, but can't see it. I know it's there, because a rainstorm earlier this week cleared the air enough to see that far.

Great city once you get past the air though...

You think that's bad... (4, Interesting)

jaaron (551839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946057)

Check out Guangzhou [flickr.com] , China. I've been there several times and never seen a clear day there. Though I hear Xian is worse.

inaccurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23946059)

It seems that this article is inaccurate, according to some comments there, about Pittsburgh and Cubatao:

I really don't get Pittsburgh being on this list. So much amazing work has been done to clean up the city since the end of the steel era. Its a beautiful, clean, and green place to live and work.

________________________________________________

'm sorry, but information about Brazil is wrong.

It's been more than 15 years that Cubatao Valley is not the most poluted place in Brazil. In the early 80's there was plenty of health problems due to a failure in planing the valley occupation rules.

Since the 80's plenty of new regulations and incentives made possible to the city to receive the ONU prize for Environment Recuperation Symbol City. Today, although poluted is very far from being one of the most poluted places in Brazil.

Another misinformation is about Tiete river and Cubatao river, although close to each other (about 50 miles) Tiete river flows into the continent, while Cubatao river flows into the sea.
1 out of 1 people found this comment helpful

China in general vs. California during fires (3, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946111)

Recent fires in California have turned the Sun that subtle orange color, and left the air with a noticeable stench of smoke. On a local Bay Area network TV station, they interviewed a woman who had just flown back from China. She said that these conditions were ALMOST as bad. Almost??? That blew my mind. Imagine living with smoke worse than this ALL YEAR LONG.

Dirty town? (0, Offtopic)

FAEK (1313539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23946131)

This dirty town [source.vxd.fr] must be erased, do what you can!

Bad article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23946265)

The article title is very misleading. The selection criteria are semi-arbitrary for this "top 10" list. Milan and Pittsburg make it in the list because they are the worst in Western Europe and the worst in the US, but there is no indication that either city ranks in the top 10 globally.

A more accurate title for this article would be something along the lines of "10 cities of interest with pollution problems". But that's not nearly as catchy.

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