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Up To a Quarter of California Smog Comes From China

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the you-can-have-this-back dept.

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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259 comments

Eh? Smog is low level (1, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#46044319)

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.

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (2)

some old guy (674482) | about 6 months ago | (#46044365)

I seem to remember an axiom from E-school: "Gravity always works."

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044387)

Nope, definitely low-level; it's a tropospheric transport model. Apparently it's a standard model (GEOS-Chem) that's pretty reliable, and it seems to incorporate interactions between particulates and the surface, including e.g. exchange of particulates between the troposphere and ocean/land.

http://www.pnas.org/content/ea... [pnas.org]

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 6 months ago | (#46044515)

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.

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46044749)

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.

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46044811)

Have you seen pictures of smog in China? It's fucking incredible. It's not that much of it that makes it here, only a small portion. It seems like a lot but compared to what started it's not that much. The health problems the Chinese are going to have from this stuff is unimaginable.

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044615)

> How can these particles remain in the very lowest part of the atmosphere

That's the Invisible Hand, son.

Article and summary is wildly wrong (0)

goombah99 (560566) | about 6 months ago | (#46044705)

I can't say what the original scientific article determined but I'm fairly certain the news report and the summary of it are either wildly incorrect or grossly understate the issue.

from the news article:

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.

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.

So lets do the arithmetic:
(0.17+0.36)/2 * (1/5) = 0.05

so 5 % of China smog is from US goods and this 5% causes 25% of W. US sulphate.

But wait what about the other 95% of china smog? We need to multiply that US smog by 20 to get it's contribution.

therefore 20*25% = 500% of W. US sulphate comes from china!!! those sneaky rascals are exporting 5 times as much sulphate tot eh US as they produce in total!

For this to make any sense one would have to assume that the sulphate produced in china for US bound goods, selectively finds its way to the US, leaving behind all other chinese made sulphate. This seems absurd. I suppose if winds didn't homgenize the chinese smog, and say all the western chinese smog selectively went one direction and just a tiny regional area that accounted for nearly all the US made goods happened to be nearly the entire source of the US bound smog, then this might be true.

But you would think that the article would have mentioned this extraordinary property and name this magic place in china that is the sole source of US smog.

Or the article is wild BS.

Re:Eh? Smog is low level (3, Interesting)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Pollution from China (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46044323)

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.

Re:Pollution from China (5, Interesting)

Njovich (553857) | about 6 months ago | (#46044331)

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

Re:Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044369)

They would, or would pay the tarifs, if EU so wanted? Just the same as China and US. If US want's to put up taxes or restrictions for whatever reson they may do so. I'm all in favour of trying to lower the pollution levels all around the globe. It's not like we really need new shiny toys all the time. Make quality, make more expensive products. Build them so that the ones making them can be proud.

Re:Pollution from China (5, Interesting)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Pollution from China (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044385)

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

What would stop the EU from using the same tariff system? Nothing about that sort of high-level incredibly vague suggestion is nation specific.

You're really reaching for a reason to be pissed for some reason, I don't really get why. (Disclaimer: Not US citizen)

Re:Pollution from China (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044657)

"What would stop the EU from using the same tariff system?"

The USA would declare a trade war and go running whining to the WTO.

Meanwhile every single retard merkin would be clamouring for the nuking of those commie yur-o-pee-ans.

US paying Europe for emissions... (3, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46044429)

Well, I did a quick google search on emissions, a fair bit about cars, not industry. My general conclusion is that the differences are basically a wash. Which is why I mentioned 'aren't even trying, pollution wise'. China for the most part isn't even trying. The USA at least tries.

A country that is trying to protect itself will generally protect it's neighbors as well.

Re:US paying Europe for emissions... (5, Informative)

Njovich (553857) | about 6 months ago | (#46044611)

Well, it may seem like a wash because it's complicated. The EU only sets broad rules, which the individual countries then must implement.

Also, you can't always directly compare rules.

However, For instance for some directly possible comparison:

SO2 Annual mean is 20 microgram per m^3 in the EU, 79 in US.
NOx: 40 vs 100 ug/m^3
PM10: 40 vs 50 ug/m^3
Ozone: 120 vs 160 ug/m^3 (way of measurement differs slightly)
CO: same for both 10000 ug/m^3

These are *huge* differences. It may seem like a wash, but on the scales we are talking about, these are enormous differences.

Of course, some regulations may be stricter in the US than EU, I didn't do a full on study on this.

(these numbers may be a couple of years out of date, but I doubt there were many changes)

Having said that, my previous comment wasn't entirely meant to be serious. In fact, I'm all in favor of applying more pressure on countries to do things about pollution. Also, the EU regulation might be a bit over the top.

Re:US paying Europe for emissions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044877)

Hint: the letter s doesn't generally need protection from its neighbors. it's means it is.

Re:Pollution from China (1)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about 6 months ago | (#46044875)

Is there evidence that US pollution is affecting Europe in any significant way? If so, then the EU has every right to demand some remedy.

Re:Pollution from China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044401)

If China had to produce on the same per capita pollution level as Americans, they would have to add a shitload of extra pollution for every product they make.

Re:Pollution from China (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044421)

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:Pollution from China (0)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 months ago | (#46044483)

is that a 'pollution standard' is actually a rather odd thing (from a libertarian standpoint

Which is exactly why Koch was paying the bills.

Also believing anything at all about climate from a scientist, instead of a salesman, is also rather an odd thing from a "libertarian standpoint".

Which is why we have to step back and see it as mostly a meaningless label that is self applied because people like the sound of it. There's more than just the usual stereotype of pretending selfishness is a noble philosophy and the old money gold standard freaks that want to prevent anyone without money from getting their hands on it.

Re:Pollution from China (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044589)

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...

Re:Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46045013)

Or you could pretend that you're not selfish while lifting your neighbor's wallet. He doesn't deserve what he has, anyway. Go regulate more "unselfishness" (i.e. your morals), Libtard.

Re:Pollution from China (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 6 months ago | (#46044495)

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...

You are indeed correct about this. On the other hand, 'no pollution allowed' isn't very economical either, and it IS generally tough to seperate out just which factory/industry killed which person via pollution. Complicating this is that, generally speaking, ONE pollution source isn't enough to kill anybody; poison is in the dose, after all.

As my original post was a one-liner unless you have a really small screen, I didn't get into that stuff. Still, in my view pollution should be charged for. No giveaways. If you're going to cause $1M in economic and non-economic damages in order to create $100M worth of industrial production, but stopping that pollution would cost $5M*, I believe that it's reasonable for the government to charge $1.1-1.2M or so(gotta cover overhead) and put that money towards remediation/restitution.

If paying for the externalities makes the business unprofitable, it probably shouldn't be in business.

*All numbers made up.

Re:Pollution from China (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044555)

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).

Re:Pollution from China (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46044665)

You are indeed correct about this. On the other hand, 'no pollution allowed' isn't very economical either,

Zero emissions is the only safe and fair way to proceed. It's not even impossible.

If paying for the externalities makes the business unprofitable, it probably shouldn't be in business.

Yes, you have it exactly. That's why we need a zero-emissions requirement. You must never emit toxics and you must balance all other externalities, e.g. fixing carbon. Anything else is uncivilized bullshit.

Re:Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044913)

Except the rockets bravely heaving "explorers" into low earth orbit, right?

Re:Pollution from China (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 6 months ago | (#46044941)

You are indeed correct about this. On the other hand, 'no pollution allowed' isn't very economical either,

Zero emissions is the only safe and fair way to proceed. It's not even impossible.

If paying for the externalities makes the business unprofitable, it probably shouldn't be in business.

Yes, you have it exactly. That's why we need a zero-emissions requirement. You must never emit toxics and you must balance all other externalities, e.g. fixing carbon. Anything else is uncivilized bullshit.

Extremism doesn't work.

Destroy all the factories. Put out all the fires. Put us all back to the Stone Age and beyond.

Pollution gone? Nope. The landscape is littered with natural pollutants. Asbestos. Mercury, Arsenic, radioactive Xenon gas seeping up through the limestone. Even Uranium. So much that for an extended period of time, Africa actually had a naturally-occuring atomic reactor. Natural fires. Toxic lakes. There are some places people simply cannot live and stay healthy.

Rewind to the Industrial Era. The main differences are that we dig up a lot of these toxins and concentrate them closer to densely-inhabited areas. Plus, not being satisfied with that, we blend chemicals to make new toxins which are rare or non-existent in Nature.

Either way, we're not going to get a pristine "zero-emissions" environment. And attempting to do so is a task whose cost increases exponentially, the more toxins you remove.

Which is why we attempt to determine what the "safe" level of toxicity is. Because there are strong indications that biological life forms (including humans) don't react linearly to many irritants, but have a threshold. And where there isn't a strong threshold, we have to make the hard choice about what level of reduction we can afford.

Of course, when you start exporting cheap knock-off Chinese smog to LA, which prefers the higher-quality domestic smog, it's quite rude. Free Trade Agreements or no.

Re:Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044863)

Firethorn, let me introduce you to someone: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, this is Firethorn, Firethorn this is The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Oblig Terry Pratchett quote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044537)

"...It's like talking about 'theft standards' for regulating the activities of pickpockets to a certain amount per wallet..."

As, of course, is the case in Ahnk-Morpork with the Thieves' Guild. Lord Vetinari realised that what people crave is stability, and that, while it is impossible to stamp out crime altogether, it is possible to regulate it. The major gang leaders of the city were therefore called to the Patrician's Palace, where they agreed to be held responsible for ensuring a socially acceptable number of thefts. While they may have been insincere in this promise, they soon found the Patrician knew too much about them for reneging to be safe.

While initially the main money-making venture of Thieves' Guild members remained theft, albeit under strict guidelines and leaving a receipt, more recent books show a system of "insurance", whereby people may pay a fee directly to the Guild and therefore become immune to robbery for a specified period.

Unlicensed theft remains illegal, under both city and Guild law. Perpetrators consider themselves lucky if the revitalised Watch catches them, or they would usually suffer from the cruel punishment dealt out by the guild.

Recently, the Thieves' Guild has introduced the practice of offering free gifts, such as matching crystal glasses, to those about to be mugged. However, these gifts are usually cheap and of poor quality...

Re:Oblig Terry Pratchett quote... (1)

Sique (173459) | about 6 months ago | (#46044739)

Or to put it in Lord Vetinari's own words: "If there absolutely must be crime, at least it should be organized."

Re:Pollution from China (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46044837)

"It's like talking about 'theft standards' for regulating the activities of pickpockets to a certain amount per wallet..."

Oh, you mean like taxes?

Re:Pollution from China (1)

kig8472 (915313) | about 6 months ago | (#46044861)

It's like talking about 'theft standards' for regulating the activities of pickpockets to a certain amount per wallet...

Which in fact is 'regulated' in any civilized country. The amount would be zero...

Re:Pollution from China (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 6 months ago | (#46044883)

It's like talking about 'theft standards' for regulating the activities of pickpockets to a certain amount per wallet...

It seems a bit more like "assault standards", where brushing against someone as you pass in a narrow hallway isn't prosecutable, but knocking them unconscious is.

Re: Pollution from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044629)

I'm Libertarian except for the things that I find important... get enough people like that joined together and soon we have a fully fledged government all over again.

Re:Pollution from China (0)

amiga3D (567632) | about 6 months ago | (#46044817)

Can't get into a tariff war with a country that we owe the kind of money that we owe China. It would probably turn into a shooting war.

Re:Pollution from China (2, Insightful)

number17 (952777) | about 6 months ago | (#46045047)

China seems pretty libertarian about this whole pollution thing.

Given the winds are from the west... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044329)

... it's hard to see where else the particles could come from.

Why on earth is this news? Perhaps Europe should be wondering where IT'S pollution comes from?

Or, indeed, the world wondering where most of the airborne nuclear pollution comes from? A good part of that is still from US surface testing....

Re:Given the winds are from the west... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044591)

It's not about wondering where the pollution comes from, it's about putting a number on it, smartass.

The Price We Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044335)

Not only do we destroy our own manufacturing economy by off-shoring all those jobs to China, but we also get a little bonus in the form of major pollution to the planet and some free smog for California.

Be lucky they don't start charging us extra for the smog.

Re: The Price We Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044411)

Wouldn't much of that smog be here if the factories were?

Re: The Price We Pay (4, Interesting)

buck-yar (164658) | about 6 months ago | (#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).

CLean air and water. Fight Global Warming. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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?!

Doesn't make sense. (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 6 months ago | (#46044343)

If Chinese manufacturing accounts for 17 to 36 percent of China's pollution, and a fifth of *that* is attributable to the manufacturing destined for US export, how can a quarter of west US smog be attributable to the US export pollution? Does the other 80 percent of manufacturing smog know to go elsewhere?

Re:Doesn't make sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044433)

Does the other 80 percent of manufacturing smog know to go elsewhere?

Or it condenses as rain over China or the ocean before reaching US shores.

If it worked the way you think it would, the moment someone lit a cigarette, everyone would smell it from everywhere in the world. It is not as though the atmosphere moves in one direction, or all at once.

Re:Doesn't make sense. (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044485)

No, he means that if US-attributable pollution is X% of China's pollution output, then it cannot possibly be more than X% of the pollution at the West coast of the US. Either it's X%, if the stuff originating in China is the only source; or it's less if mix it with other sources. Unless the pollution somehow fractionates according to attribution.

Re:Doesn't make sense. (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044449)

The New Scientist article has smudged a lot of things from the original text. Basically overall, they find that "EEE-related Chinese pollution contributed about 3–10% of the annual mean surface sulfate concentrations, 1–3% of BC, 2–3% of CO, and 0.5–1.5% of ozone over the western contiguous United States (west of 100W)." However the amount reaching the US was highly variable from day to day (is episodic) because the atmosphere is complicated. It can "save up" pollution and dump it en mass, and on those days, it could account for "12-24% of sulfate concentrations, 2–5% of ozone, 4–6% of CO, and up to 11% of BC over the western United States".

Re:Doesn't make sense. (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 6 months ago | (#46044993)

Right. But if 25 percent of US West coast smog is attributable to pollution from the 20% of Chinese manufacturing that's attributable to US exports ... then along with the other 80 percent of Chinese manufacturing pollution (that's attributable to other-than-US-export-products), Chinese pollution alone would make up more than 100% of west coast smog.

Clearly Impossible (3, Funny)

some old guy (674482) | about 6 months ago | (#46044357)

Have we not been repeatedly assured by the UN and the US government that our bestie friend China is a paragon of environmental awareness? Don't all the charts show China with a lower carbon footprint than Switzerland? Surely the pollution must be the US's own being recirculated. After being partially cleansed by the pristine skies of China, of course. /sarcasm

How about the pollution originating in USA? (1)

vedranius (2647301) | about 6 months ago | (#46044363)

If I am right USA is not interesting in "Kyoto protocol stuff".

Re:How about the pollution originating in USA? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044439)

If I am right USA is not interesting in "Kyoto protocol stuff".

Kyoto protocol covers greenhouse gasses, this study is about smog. I'm sure that there's some overlap, most chemicals do more than one thing; but "Pollution" isn't some sort of uniform, fungible, phenomenon. Different sources, different flavors, different regulatory mechanisms.

Re:How about the pollution originating in USA? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46044759)

If I am right USA is not interesting in "Kyoto protocol stuff".

The Kyoto protocol was a shitty joke because it did not put caps on developing nations, meaning it would have done nothing at all. That's no excuse for replacing it with nothing at all, but signing it is a fat fucking waste of time — which we don't actually have.

Somehow fitting (5, Insightful)

pablo_max (626328) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Somehow fitting (2)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 6 months ago | (#46044455)

+1. Sad truth.
A lot of people don't understand that the less they give as customers, the less they'll receive as employees.
It's the same problem at a global level : Germany doesn't understand either that a 2 billion $ train produced in Germany is much cheaper than a 1 billion $ train produced in China.
Karma and macroeconomics are bitches.

Re:Somehow fitting (2)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 6 months ago | (#46044965)

A lot of people don't understand that the less they give as customers, the less they'll receive as employees.

Which is, of course, why we're all much worse off now than when the industrial revolution started. Back then it was the machines making goods cheaper than the people could. Of course people would buy the cheaper goods made by machine, not realising they were sowing the seeds of their own economic destruction. The less they gave as customers, the less they received as employees!

Honestly, can we drop this tosh now? Another way of saying the same thing is, "The more expensive everything is, the more you'll be able to buy!" It is obvious nonsense.

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 6 months ago | (#46044473)

You might hate globalization, but the main point of it is to make things more efficient. Those efficiency gains are sometimes translated in reduced pollution. For example, one big factory pollutes less than several smaller ones, it has more efficient distribution meaning less pollution from transportation. Instead of being anti-globabalization you should strive ask your country to embargo goods produced with less regulation than your own country requires, that would increase the price of the imported goods and improve the local industry.

Re:Somehow fitting (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044507)

"More efficient" in the economic sense only means that it operates at lower cost. Always start from that axiom. While there are some pollution-reduction methods that are also economically efficient (e.g. reusing or selling your waste products rather than dumping them) that is unfortunately those are in the minority. That's why pollution tariffs exist; they add environmental impact to the efficiency problem. In China's case, where their economic efficiency largely comes from cheap power from coal, you've definitely got a conflict.

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 6 months ago | (#46044617)

You make a good point, but I said "e efficiency gains are _sometimes_ translated in reduced pollution". If those industries were in the US instead of China maybe the US would need to have more Coal power plants.

But I digress, the point I was trying to make is that globalization is not the devil. But it drastically changes the socioeconomic status quo of the countries so the government needs to adapt to it. I don't like to play the "free market is wrong" card but in this case I believe it is.

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

pablo_max (626328) | about 6 months ago | (#46044741)

That is utter crap.

I never said I hate globalization. In fact, it is a good thing. However, we have different ideas of what efficient means.
For you, it is more "efficient" for you to poor your left over chemicals down the kitchen sink or into the street gutters to be washed into the ocean. That saves you time AND money! What could be better!
I find it more "efficient" to think about my actions and protect the places my offspring inhabit by bringing my left over chemicals to a proper disposal place. In terms of time and money, I "spend" more up front. In the long run however, my drinking water is not poison.

It is a fact that the biggest polluters in China are foreign owned firms, or Chinese firms producing good at the lowest possible price for a multinational. Same idea like with you and your chemicals, except here we are talking about an industrial scale.
Or, do you think because it is done on an industrial scale that it is more "efficient"?

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 6 months ago | (#46044879)

I said:
"You _might_ hate globalization"

"Those efficiency gains are _sometimes_ translated in reduced pollution"

"your country to embargo goods produced with _less regulation_ than your own country requires"

My overall point is that the more globalized the world is, the better. As long as the industries follow the regulations and the regulations themselves are correctly written.

The real benefit of globalization... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Somehow fitting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044503)

It will eventually. Wages in China are on the rise, same in India. Recent news reports show that companies are starting to bring some of these jobs back because once you factor in transportation costs, fuel surcharges etc, it works out in favor of keeping things at home. The global economy will eventually produce a situation where everyone benefits from higher wages and a better standard of living. That standard may not be the Leave it to Beaver style American dream. However we do live in a surplus society and those surpluses will eventually be more evenly distributed. It takes time, but supply and demand, the invisible hand of the markets will eventually flatten everything out into equillibrium.

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044595)

"When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
music
movies
microcode
high-speed pizza delivery "

Re:Somehow fitting (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46044745)

There's only four things we do better than anyone else:
music
movies
microcode
high-speed pizza delivery "

Sadly, our music and movies are both going downhill and nobody trusts our microcode any more... Better fire up those pizza ovens.

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044517)

Those local sources aren't really charging you "what it actually costs to produce", because once upon a time they would've had a much larger niche, could've run a larger - yet still modest - store, and therefore had much lower costs. I dare say people would be willing to pay those costs, and use that medium-sized source, but unfortunately that niche is gone.

Re:Somehow fitting (2, Funny)

dkf (304284) | about 6 months ago | (#46044623)

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.

So you're saying that a consequence of my wanting cheap electronics is that Californian hipsters have to put up with choking to death on smog imported across the Pacific?

Is this an argument for or against?

Re:Somehow fitting (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 6 months ago | (#46044781)

...we tend not to think about the real price of what and where they buy thing...

In my country products could have a similar price to the international price. But I am obliged to pay taxes on almost everything, and in several cases these taxes are 50% or more of the total price. And if that was not bad enough, here traders only are content with profit margins that are at least 50%

Re:Somehow fitting (1, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | about 6 months ago | (#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".

are ther any unpaid for 'stories' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044393)

looks more like cnn every day

old berlin the pubs were full of nazi touts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044405)

nothing new yet....

Basic Math (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Basic Math (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#46044513)

first, they are "journalists" It seems that they just make crap up and do not do any actual research on their articles anymore. I have discovered that 99% of technology journalists are complete idiots that dont even know 1/80th of what they are talking about and do ZERO research before they write something down.

Environmental Science is harder than tech, so I will bet these are the same caliber "journalists". We dont have an real ones out there anymore, most of them are just half hearted bloggers that happen to be paid to do a half assed job.

Seven or so years too (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 months ago | (#46044525)

It's also a bit of a red flag (excuse the pun) that it's from 2006. A LOT has changed since then, especially in 2008. It makes me think that maybe the year was cherry picked.
Apparently pollution controls were ramped up for the Olympics and necessity has resulted in a lot of other pollution controls since in some of the very badly effected areas. A building boom resulted in plenty of old and badly run industrial plants etc being replaced.

Re:Seven or so years too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044543)

I've lived in China since 2004. Yes, some things were done for the Olympics, but that's been over and done with for awhile. The pollution here is getting worse, particularly here in Shenzhen. The major source is coal fired power plants. They're popping up like weeds.

Re:Seven or so years too (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044553)

They actually discuss a full decade of emissions data from 2000-2009, and state that they picked 2006 as an interesting turning point in China's consumption versus production emissions. I'm guessing that 2000-2009 was the most up to date info when somebody started their PhD in 2009, and now they're writing up.

Re:Basic Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044527)

It's actually quite easy to explain. Karmic forces ensure that the smog in China generated from producing goods for export to the US is more likely to blow over to western US, while the smog created while producing goods that remained in China tends to hang around there.

Re:Basic Math (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#46044533)

One's the average, one's the maximum day-to-day. It fluctuates. It's not the study that's "full of shit", it's that the New Scientist article is written unclearly. You can find the original PNAS at the bottom of the NS piece, can't tell if it's open-access because I've got a golden ticket:

http://www.pnas.org/content/ea... [pnas.org]

Re:Basic Math (1)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about 6 months ago | (#46044569)

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.

5. I'm really tired and I missed something. But I don't think I'm that tired.

The article is a bit whiffy when it comes to the figures, but the bit you are missing is that it is not just the smog from goods produced for export to the US that is making its way over to the US. If it was, that would be an interesting irony... I do not think it helps that the article seems to be at the same time trying to discuss the amount of pollution generated by Chinese manufacturing of goods for export to the US, while also discussing the amount of smog "exported" from China to the US. Those things are very easily confused.
So some of the smog generated by China that makes its way over to the US was generated by manufacturing processes for goods not destined for export to the US. :)

Re:Basic Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044823)

Yes, I think you're a bit too tired... ;)

Let's say that China produced a total of 100 units of smog during 2006. This means between 17 and 36 units of smog were due to export goods. One fifth of that range is 3.4 to 7.2 units of smog. Of course, all of this smog would not make it over the Pacific, so let's say a fraction (alpha) of it makes it over. That means there's 3.4*alpha to 7.2*alpha units of smog hitting the western US. The "up to 25%" statement (assuming sulphate smog is all of the smog; I'm not familiar with smog chemistry) would simply mean that the total amount of smog in the western US is at least 13.6*alpha to 28.8*alpha units of smog. So if alpha is say... 10%, then the western US experienced smog levels at least 0.0136 times that of China. Not sure what useful conclusions can be reached from this, but the math does work out.

Karma (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 months ago | (#46044457)

Made in China.

Designed in California.

Re:Karma (1)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 6 months ago | (#46044691)

Apparently designed for California as well...

Re:Karma (1)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 6 months ago | (#46044693)

bold fail!

Re:Karma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044933)

bold fail!

Fail boldly, I always say!

Re:Karma (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 6 months ago | (#46044959)

Made in China. Inhaled in California.

Canadian Acid Rain from US Coal (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Canadian Acid Rain from US Coal (0, Troll)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46044607)

Ah, a snow mexican who doesn't understand how standing works! You may have been taught that 'standing' or 'the moral high ground' or similar such concepts are things that you gain through "honesty" or "consistency" or "ethical standards" or suchlike bullshit. This is nonsense. You get 'standing' by being The Good Guys, which America is, always has been, and always will be.

Really quite simple, no?

Re:Canadian Acid Rain from US Coal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044829)

a) it was mostly bullshit; lower atmospheric air generally flows frmo the poles south
b) You deliberately omit that we've done quite a bit about itin the last 40 years. Scrubbers, making West Virginia collectively unemployed, etc.

Re:Canadian Acid Rain from US Coal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044893)

> 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.

There is no problem with coal. It's just you have to build a de-sulphurization unit next to the powerplant, which turns the chimney smoke into powdered gypsum, which can be utilized by the construction industry. Said unit is about 2x the size of the powerplant itself and costs ~ 1.5x more. Mandatory tech in the European Union, but USA probably won't touch it with a stick for profit reasons.

A quarter of a pair of atomic bombs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044475)

Will you ever receive those back from Japan? Will karma eventually deliver?

Smog from China from outsourcing (2)

Trogre (513942) | about 6 months ago | (#46044481)

Smells like poetic justice...

Maybe: downward spiral (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46045027)

I see comments above about "wanting" cheap stuff.

I do NOT want cheap stuff. I HATE cheap stuff because it falls apart too soon.

But that's all I can afford. See, with this new economy, - offshoring, automation, and what have you - my pay has declined in real terms. The numbers prove it.

And there's my student loans.

For example, my Delta miter saw that was given to me crapped out. I called Stanley-Black and Decker (DeWalt, Delta, Porter and Cable, B&D, and quite a few others) didn't make parts for it anymore because it was over 10 years old. The support person (after grilling me for all my contact information) said "DeWalt are great tools!"

Yes they are but I can't afford it. Off to cheap-barely good enough Harbor Freight. NOT a good value but affordable.

Americans do NOT want cheap stuff either - just look at the sales of Apple products, Lexus', BMWs, Harley Davidson's, ...

When cheap stuff is purchased often it's because we don't have a choice because of our downward spiral of our earning power. Part of that is the incessant shipping of well paying jobs overseas and jobs replaced by automation. The CEOs are benefiting but the workers are not.

I think automation is a good thing but when people are not able to find or get other work regardless of retraining (or any other platitude offered by the ruling class), we have a systemic problem that will cause some serious social problems in the future.

all in one peace again story re-submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044509)

never read about this stuff on cnn http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=stem%20cells&sm=3 a treasure trove of benefit to us ordinarians

Weird summary (3, Funny)

SETY (46845) | about 6 months ago | (#46044571)

"These winds push Chinese smog over the Pacific and dump it on the western US, from Seattle to southern California."
The smog probably actually covers western North America. I highly doubt Chinese smog hates the US so much that it only goes from Seattle to San Diego.

It seems (1)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 6 months ago | (#46044685)

It seems we think it's ok for us to allow the pollution of remote lands because we think it doesn't affect us, and they went along with the deal anyway, right? I see this every day. I don't have to go to China or anywhere else to find this mindset or the outcome. I only need to look off to the side of every road. People throw their garbage everywhere, and they don't care because, "Fsck it, it's not my home...It doesn't affect me."

Well, we live on this Earth together, and pollution doesn't just go away. It moves. It stays on this rocky planet. I don't think this is news, but another late realization we are fscking ourselves, and some of us are fscking greedy assholes.

Its time for democracy to pay a visit to china. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044855)

9/11 yada yada terrorists in china yada yada

This pleases me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044971)

karma's a bitch

that's the ticket! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46044977)

blame the CHICOMs! their homeland is going to dissolve into an environmental wasteland soon anyway

uh oh... (2)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 6 months ago | (#46045029)

don't anyone tell Walmart about this...

they will want to charge Californians an "extra-low price " for it all...

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