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NASA Data Reveals China's Industrial Air Pollution

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the red-vs-green dept.

Earth 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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133 comments

In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717354)

Air Pollutes You!

Re:In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717372)

First genuinely funny Soviet x joke I've seen in a long time.

Re:In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717478)

First AC commending their own post in an attempt to make it look funnier than it is I've seen in a long time.

Re:In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717494)

I don't know which cowards I can trust here...

Re:In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717506)

The correct term is samefag [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33720040)

This is not 4chan, keep your childish language out of here.

Re:In Soviet China (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717512)

No, this is American capitalist propaganda! Chinese air is the cleanest air in the world! In other countries, they have air pollution that is under 2.5 microns, wheras here in China there is none!

(Note that this would be funnier if you read the summary, and also maybe if we could safely assume no such line has been uttered by a Chinese official about this matter)

Shanghai's Air Quality (3, Informative)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717376)

Official government website for the air quality in Shanghai. Decent records, and public.
http://www.envir.gov.cn/Eng/Airep/index.asp [envir.gov.cn]

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (2, Interesting)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717514)

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.

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (5, Informative)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717534)

And on a side note, how come Slashdot submitters link to a summary, and not the Original NASA source [nasa.gov]?

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (0, Troll)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719196)

And on a side note, how come Slashdot submitters link to a summary, and not the Original NASA source?

Maybe the submitter is a kiwi and is torqued about being left off the map?

Doubtful Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717524)

Official government website for the air quality in Shanghai. Decent records, and public. http://www.envir.gov.cn/Eng/Airep/index.asp [envir.gov.cn]

The problem is that those numbers trend downwards from 2004 to 2010. Yet ask anyone who has lived here which way they think air quality has moved from 2004 to 2010 ...

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718572)

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!

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (2, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718838)

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.

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719072)

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.

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719180)

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.

Re:Shanghai's Air Quality (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719562)

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.

You're old enough to know better (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717390)

so cry, baby cry.

Race to the Bottom (2, Interesting)

El Torico (732160) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Race to the Bottom (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717548)

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:Race to the Bottom (2, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717714)

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:Race to the Bottom (2, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717820)

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:Race to the Bottom (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717908)

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.

Re:Race to the Bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717810)

In Japan they frequently complain of "red sand" that flies over from China and causes all sorts of problems for people with allergies, or people who are attempting to dry their laundry outside. I thought it was a load of BS (the same sort that causes Japanese people to blame all the trash that washes up on their beaches on China), but there may be some truth to it after all.

Posting anon because my wife is Japanese and would get angry at me if she saw this post. :)

Re:Race to the Bottom (3, Insightful)

njen (859685) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718760)

I live in Korea, and here we call it China's yellow wind. On the days when the wind blows from the west, there is an obvious yellow tint to the sky. There are also similar reports from Eastern European countries too. The funny thing with environmental disasters is that they usually do not stay localised to the country that causes them. So what China do to themselves will eventually affect us all.

Re:Race to the Bottom (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717844)

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.

Re:Race to the Bottom (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717882)

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 can see of Russia (!?). Also, Australia is either missing data for its interior (the white areas), or was too damned dusty to bother (which would make sense).

/P

Re:Race to the Bottom (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Race to the Bottom (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33718542)

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.

Re:Race to the Bottom (3, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Race to the Bottom (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719730)

Well, that sounds good to me. If the shoe of criticism fits, wear it. But if not, don't.

Re:Race to the Bottom (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719194)

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

official member (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717418)

official member of the tinsel town butt faggots

Well duh....but.... (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717528)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717616)

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:Well duh....but.... (2, Interesting)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717632)

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 [technologyreview.com]). 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 watching the recent (and ongoing) conflict between China and Japan that the US seriously needs to take measures to be less reliant on China for.. well.. everything.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717880)

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: (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717996)

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 [windfair.net] 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.

Re:Here's why: (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718288)

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 the German government, who have apparently enacted a ridiculously progressive and expensive renewable energy policy in recent years). But if a growing market and government subsidies were all that were required - why haven't other countries been able to keep up?

Re:Here's why: (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718432)

It's not just solar, China has 24 nuclear power plants [world-nuclear.org] under construction, not to mention the world's most powerful hydroelectric power plant [wikipedia.org]. So, they are embracing energy sources besides fossil fuels.

Re:Here's why: (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719322)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717686)

Sounds exactly like another country I know of...

Re:Well duh....but.... (0, Offtopic)

cf18 (943501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717832)

What? You mean China should behave like Taiwan back in 2008, who threatened to attack Japanese ships with their military over a similar incident at the same island?

Or do you mean the US sanctions against Cuba and Iran have any agenda other than political?

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

CliffH (64518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717852)

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 likes to bitch and moan. The second part of it, well, that's a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit more difficult to say the least.

Sheesh! (0)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718046)

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 sized forests you mowed down and the countless species you drove to extinction to be pontificating on what other countries should do? Western countries got to where they are now due to the very polluting Industrial Revolution. Do you think other countries will want to stay an agricultural backwater forever? Maybe become bucolic tourist atractions for Western tourists to see Giant Pandas and half naked villagers knee deep in rice fields, framed by picturesque majestic mountains in the background. Then, after many glasses of Martinis served by discreet native servants, you jet back to your mega cities and drive home in your luxury cars. Give me a break.

Re:Sheesh! (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719176)

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
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/42042/ [theepochtimes.com]

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/movies/01spring.html [nytimes.com]

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 their industrialization.

China's 'cancer villages' reveal dark side of economic boom
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/07/china-cancer-villages-industrial-pollution [guardian.co.uk]

Would you like to try again with your comment about westerners and china.

Re:Well duh....but.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33718054)

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 water, and in the peoples bodies, the true effects will show. It's nothing new, others have done it before in the name of progress and well-being of the People. Let them keep it up, they'll give genetic disorders and infantile malformations a whole new meaning.

Re:Well duh....but.... (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718368)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (2, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718654)

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 resources such as the rare metals you mentioned in passing (because the Chinese basically refused to sell Japan rare metals until they gave over the ship Captain). Rare metals are essential for electronics which is what the Japanese depend on for their exports. The Chinese can provide rare metals cheaper because they let their environment suffer through the creation of acid lakes, gutted out topography unsuitable for wildlife, and increased emissions; not to mention the crappy work conditions of their citizens. Paired with their low cost production of resources, they also manipulate financial markets such as the way they "peg" their currency to the US dollar and refuse to let the market treat their currency like any other. Overall, the Chinese want to get all the benefits of a capitalist market, but refuse to accept the consequences and actively throw threats around to get their way like a little spoiled child. They maneuvered themselves into a position where they can just make demands and we have to accept it otherwise our own people will suffer. Shame on our government for being so short-sighted.

What do we do about the Chinese? Do we tariff their goods? Do we refuse to trade with them? Since we are currently coming out of a recession, if we do either of the things I mentioned we only hurt the American consumer. It will only drive prices up when there is not as much money to spend for the average person. This is exactly why I say the Chinese have us by the balls. I am not sure how to fix it.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

sildur (1383455) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718828)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719212)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

sildur (1383455) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719438)

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.

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719406)

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 byproduct of China's willingness to completely trash their environment in exchange for pieces of paper. The Unite States will continue to pay them with pieces of paper (i.e. electronic funds transfers) as long as it suits the Chinese to continue accepting them. If we ever reach a point where the Chinese have had enough, then the flow of goods will reverse and the Chinese will begin handing us back our promissory notes in exchange for goods and services; except this time it will cost them more than when our situations were reversed because unlike China, the United States actually has environmental standards. The endgame will be a materially richer United States at the expense of a polluted, poorer and resource depleted China. Winner: United States. The future lies in sustainable production and preservation of environmental capital. The Americans and Europeans have recognized and internalized this while the Chinese seem to be living in the 19th century with regard to environmental protection (or effective lack thereof).

Re:Well duh....but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33718766)

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.

So if I drop my coke habit, the US government will go bankrupt?

Re:Well duh....but.... (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719032)

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.

Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (3, Insightful)

alexmipego (903944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717518)

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?

Re:Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (1)

viperblades (576174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717612)

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.

Re:Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (1)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718178)

I feel like if that was true, then Mexico and the Southwest United States would be red as well.

Re:Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33719792)

The deserts in Mexico and the Southwest United States is not as dusty or windy.

Re:Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717628)

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.

Re:Sup with north Africa/Middle east? (1)

cuby (832037) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717674)

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.

They won't stop. (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717558)

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 livelihoods.

This is no real surprise (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is no real surprise (3, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:This is no real surprise (1)

pighead77 (1315131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719426)

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 decades of development gaps behind those developed nations, what would you recommend yourself to do? By playing every and all the rules the developed nations laying down? If this situation applies in start-up companies, I simply don't think those start-up's would last for a couple months.

There are prices to pay to get high speed development. Now I'm not saying this pollution price is good or bad, I simply do know. But I do encourage people to take a less biased and privileged POV and put into others shoes before starting to lecture.

J

North America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717600)

China still has less than half the GDP of the US, and the US remains the world's largest manufacturer. With that in mind compare N. America to China in NASA's map. The planet would clearly be best served by a trade war that pulls industry back into the west where regulation exists.

Bad calibration? (4, Interesting)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Bad calibration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33718110)

Sand storms, perhaps?

Re:Bad calibration? (1)

meteficha (1332195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718510)

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:Bad calibration? (2, Informative)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718620)

Yes, and also no. If you'd read the actual fine article over at NASA [nasa.gov], 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.

As long as the WEST gets cheap goods, WHO CARES !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717610)

I don't care if the chinaman wallows in the myre !! so long as I can get a $100 German part for $12 !! Enough of the WEST supporting the Germans supporting the gypsies, turks, and muslims, and greeks, and lazy-stasi-krauts !!

Not a surprise (1)

pythonist (1289628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717854)

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

Particulate Map (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717864)

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:Particulate Map (2, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33717958)

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

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

http://news.discovery.com/earth/desert-dust-storm-roars-through-china-blankets-korea.html

Confirms a surprising reply from a radio interview (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33717946)

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 http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2010/s3017529.htm [abc.net.au] (see the sidebar).

And it will all get worst (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718390)

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 does not require that they be ran.

The only way out of this is for the west to put a tax on all goods based on where the good AND the most expensive part comes from and the amount of CO2 that is emitted from those locations. For imported goods, catch them at the border. For all others, catch them at wholesale -> retailer. The important part is that it be based on CO2 PER SQ KM. Why? Because when a place gets successful, then ppl will flow into there. If based on emissions per ppl, then it will allow for more emissions from a location (city, county, state, or nation) upon the flow of ppl there. Basically, you reward a location by allowing them to emit more rather than having them control their emissions.

Re:And it will all get worst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33719546)

China is horrible and will get worst.

On the bright side - after it's done that it can only get better.

slightly confusing data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33718496)

A bit nonplus about the pollution all over Sahara desert (sandstorms as others have indicated).
And I guess the satellite malfunctioned over the Australian outbacks for 6 straight years (the authors could not have left those data out purpose ....could they?).
And you got to love the sharp cutoff at the great lakes (if you are feeling a bit over-polluted during the day, step one meter into the great lakes for instant fresh air).
Got to say though most images and videos from the people's republic you see even in western media are typically quite clear and clean.

They're doing it wrong (1)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718872)

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.

moncleroutlet (1)

mbt00001 (1902150) | more than 3 years ago | (#33718968)

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Strange Canadians... (1)

cjbayesian (1692962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719068)

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.

Beijing is in a permanent fog (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719080)

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 . . .

Re:Beijing is in a permanent fog (1)

cjbayesian (1692962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719126)

Oh ya, pile on the anecdotal evidence. Where would science be without your "well, in my experience..." insights.

Re:Beijing is in a permanent fog (2)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719478)

I was here too, asshole. I've been living in Beijing for the past year. It's worse during the summer, but there has been blue skies here nearly every day the entire month of September. Fucking idiot spreading false data.

Re:Beijing is in a permanent fog (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33719488)

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".

very true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33719626)

I was in shanghai with my wife last fall for a month. We came back to the US through LAX and walked between terminals. Both of us agreed that the air was quite fresh in the middle of LA. You can't see any stars in shanghai and the moon is wrapped in some severe haze at night. Pretty scary.

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