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article imageChina's pollution has become America's unwanted import

By Karen Graham     Jan 21, 2014 in Environment
The U.S. has succeeded in outsourcing much of its manufacturing in our quest for cheaper goods. But, in doing so, we have also outsourced some of the pollution that's created in the manufacture of those goods.
A new study just released by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences is reporting that our exported pollution problems have come back to haunt us, creating a surge in environmental and health problems, particularly on the Pacific Coast.
The non-profit society of scholars reports that at least one-quarter of the sulfate pollution in the western part of the U.S. is caused by acid-rain inducing sulfates from the burning of fossil fuels in China. The amount of sulfates in the air adds an extra day of smog levels in excess of the Federal Health Standards in Los Angeles.
China's pollution problem has become so severe that schools have been shut down, and people's lifespans have been shortened, according to one recent report. Last week, Beijing experienced its first "off-the-wall" pollution level for 2014. The Chinese government has implemented pollution-reduction standards, as well as carbon trading schemes in some major cities. The carbon trading scheme is one way China plans to reduce pollution 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels in the country by 2020.
But then in 2013, China turned around and approved construction of $10 billion worth of new coal production capacity. As far as Chinas added coal production capacity, it is equal to ten percent of the total U.S. annual usage, according to a Reuters report. It's thought that the continued use of fossil fuel will cancel out any good the carbon trading exchange will make.
China's neighbors, such as Japan and South Korea have suffered with heavy pollution-filled clouds from the mainland as China gave up on environmental regulations in favor of economic and industrial growth and profits.
One of the co-authors of the report, Steve Davis, a professor at the University of California Irvine, said, . “Given the complaints about how Chinese pollution is corrupting other countries’ air, this paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around.”
One argument in favor of doing nothing to reduce greenhouse emissions in the U.S. is to point the finger at major polluters like China and India, saying if they don't start reducing their emissions, any effort by the U.S. wouldn't make any difference. And this argument is at the core of the study, as well as its conclusions.
Davis says that the pollution problem has got to get beyond placing blame on any one country, and coming to the realization that it is in everyone's best interest to work together in finding a solution. This thinking also takes into consideration the issue of trade, necessitating global talks. The report concluded that, "International cooperation to reduce trans-boundary transport of air pollution must confront the question of who is responsible for emissions in one country during production of goods to support consumption in another."
More about China, Pollution, cheap goods, Pacific coast, manufactured
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