Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chinese Smog in LA ?


Pollution doesn’t pay attention to national boundaries, so there’s nothing stopping China’s smog from drifting back across the Pacific Ocean to plague Los Angeles. And that’s just what’s happening, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from China, Britain, and the U.S. estimate that emissions from Chinese factories add up to an extra day of unhealthy air quality per year in the Hollywood Hills.

Over the past 30 years, many international companies have moved manufacturing operations—and much of the pollution that accompanies them—to East Asia. But that doesn’t mean factories far away are operating cleanly. “We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution,” study co-author and University of California at Irvine earth-systems scientist Steve Davis said in a statement. “But some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us.”

As much as a fourth of the sulfate pollution in the western U.S. derives from Chinese factories. But as Davis points out, it’s not entirely fair to wag fingers at China alone—after all, it’s Western consumers that fuel demand for China’s polluting export industries. “This paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around,” he says.
The U.S. is hardly alone in facing a China smog problem. Japan and South Korea regularly experience bouts of westerly winds bringing unwelcome particulate matter from their near neighbor. Korean media has even given a nickname to toxic clouds from China: “air raids.”

(Bloomberg Businessweek)

21 comments:

Gina May said...

I am not surprised at all by this article. It just goes to show how important it is for the world to start cooperating and working together on a global scale. It is not fair for us to place the blame on just one country, especially when we are the ones benefitting while others are currently suffering. In order to improve our pollution situation and prevent it from worsening we need to start taking responsibility for our actions because they effect us all on a global scale. Just because China is tracked down to the main source of pollution doesn’t mean we as the U.S. are any less to blame.
This tendency for us to ignore the things that we are not experiencing will eventually come back around to bite us in the butt. It might actually be a good thing for us to start experiencing the pollution caused to make all of the things we think we so desperately need. It might open our eyes and make us realize more quickly how important it is to have a healthy environment and how much we take for granted.

Dylan Hirsch said...

The article does a good job highlighting the fact the industry pollution is a global problem in a globalized economy. The amount of particles in the air to cross the pacific ocean must be enormous; the living conditions of the people in China must be extremely low quality. In the attempt the economy has in improving the standard of living for its workers decreases, the modern economic and environmental problems we are facing are clearly embodied in the social structures we create. In outsourcing our manufacturing to China, it is lowering the Chinease standard of living while increasing our own.

Anonymous said...

This problem unites us in a way-- it proves that pollution is a worldwide problem, and that we need the entire world to fix it. Without the western world cutting back on what they need from Chinese factories AND the Chinese factories using cleaner fuel, this problem will not be solved. It takes cooperation and the will of countries to fix these types of problems. Unfortunately, I don't see this happening any time soon-- countries are still too involved in themselves and their own national economy to start anything that may set back their development in industry. That being said, once this gets bad enough, this might be a kick start into fixing more global problems than just air pollution.

Leanna Molnar

Leah DeEgidio said...

This article goes hand in hand with the article from last week. My comment was that this problem will not stop at the Chinese borders. This article brings up the most crucial point that I have seen lately from anyone talking about the pollution problem in China. Why is there this serious air pollution issue in this part of the world? It is because all western industries place their factories in the east. This is a global issue and we must start working together because it is not China's problem, it is the world's problem.

Nick Sollogub said...

I believe that the world is starting to fully understand and accept that environmental issues transcend national boundaries. During the dust bowl, Washington D.C. took action only after they were able to see their city being invaded by dust. Now with projects like the Great Green Wall of Africa, people are establishing policies that work together with neighboring countries to help reduce the regional impacts of their actions. It is no surprise to see smog coming back from China and settling in America. I think it is actually a tiny bit of justice since we force our waste onto them by having our work done over there. Now, we are being forced to see the repercussions of our actions as opposed to issues being out of sight, out of mind.

Cynthia Romero said...

I think this is a huge chunk of the problem that isn't looked at independently, necessarily. In order to make an actual change, we all need to get together and clean up our act as one. Actually, I truly believe that this change needs to be forced upon everyone. But that is besides the point. The article made a very interesting point about Western consumers fueling demand for China's export industries. It is frightening when some countries are experiencing regular bouts of winds with particulate matter and they simply nickname the toxic clouds.

Apoorva said...

This article shows that by moving the factories and industries from one continent to another, it does come back to affect you in the long run. Airborne activities usually travel across a lot of countries. When the forest fires were raging in Indonesia, all of South East Asia was covered in smog for many days.
The same phenomenon seems to have occurred here only across an ocean.
We should also take a moment to think about how this affects the people living in China. If the smog is as horrible as it seems in LA, it must be 100x worse in China where it is born from.
Politically viewing the problem, gives us perspective as to how this would help strength our American ties with China.
Since we are responsible for the smog in China, we need to see how we can help the country so as to help ourselves. One selfish act would become selfless since it is what caused it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

As someone that grew up in California and have ben to LA many times, this article is very startling for me. The smog problem has been around for many years but now knowing that it is not only being caused by people that live in LA but also by the Chinese is frightening. This article shows that we are all responsible for the damages that have been made in our environment. There is not one single countries that can take full responsibility, we all have some part. We need to all unite and fight to stop endangering out environment by cutting down on industries, setting laws that regulate the emissions of Greenhouse Gases and educate other about how their actions effect the environment as well as one another. Pollution is not a local problem; it is a global and we all have to make changes in order to stop it.

Kaylee Looper

Anonymous said...

This article proves that pollution always comes full circle. What begins in a factory in China is driven by the demand by American consumers. In order to reduce pollution we must reduce our demand for materials and find a less damaging way to produce them. We're on a deadly spiral and if we do not change our ways we may no longer have breathable air. Articles like this are raising awareness, which is great, but it still does not totally correct the problem. We need to work together with the other countries of the world and find a way to address the situation at hand and combat pollution and climate change before it is too late.

-Haylei P.

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