The Real Chinese Threat

We no longer control our destiny. China is sucking resources at an astounding rate. Half of all the world’s cement goes there, a third of the steel and a quarter of the aluminum. China is spending 35 times more on crude oil than it did in 1999, which was only nine years ago. No wonder prices are rising. But my concern is not with the economics. China’s growing wealth is good for the world economy and the world market will adapt. The world environment is what worries me.

Environmental protection is viewed with little enthusiasm by the Chinese authorities. Oh yes, we hear lots of talk and there are even some protests that the state doesn’t immediately crush, but the air in some places remains literally unbreathable and water is poisonous. Chinese pollution is already darkening the snows on Mt Olympus in Washington State. If air can come all the way across the Pacific and still be that dirty, you have to be concerned and wonder what it does to people, plants and animal at the source. That is what I mean about not controlling our destiny.

We Americans thought we were champions on planet wrecking and even took some perverse pride in self flagellation on the issue, but it is now clear that we were just the junior varsity. China’s fuel of choice is coal supplying 80% of China’s electrical needs and Chinese coal fired plants are not of the tame variety we encounter in the back home. China smokes the unfiltered brands and the smoke and acid rain engendered reduces agricultural yields and dissolves buildings. I remember the horrendous environmental problems in communist Eastern Europe. All indications are that this is even worse. No Chinese city adequately treats its sewage andmost do not treat it at all. China is the environmental disaster we feared in the 1960s and then averted. The World Bank estimated that 750,000 people die prematurely each year from contaminated air and poisoned water.

So what can we do? For all its progress, China is still not a technologically advanced country in the Western sense. Some of its pollution results simply from this. If we share better technologies with the Chinese, their world, and ours, will benefit. Another thing we can do is encourage the market economy. In Eastern Europe, I literally saw the air become significantly cleaner in the course of a few years as the market economy replaced communist command and control and make pollution less profitable. We can also be a little tougher on Chinese imports. When Chinese goods poison their own people, we can only regret it. When they poison ours, we can crack down.

But all these things will amount to little if the Chinese themselves don’t clean up their act. There is some indication that they might do this. They are aware of the problem and are saying the right things. That may translate into concrete actions.

Nevertheless, for the first time in any living memory, the U.S. is not the chief architect of its own destiny in an area that vitally affects us. All those people around the world who complained for so many years about American insensitivity can feel vindicated for a minute or two, but when they get a good look, taste & smell of the new world order they may long for the time of the ugly American.

Consult the refugees in Darfur to find out how the new colonialism differs from the old and ask the Tibetans about this self determination thing if you haven’t figured it out by now. How does that old song go about meeting the new boss same as the old boss? If only.

BTW – I know the Bush haters will jump in and blame George Bush for the rise of China. Let me anticipate this with the simple observation that the Chinese have pulled themselves up. Since 2001 our economy has grown relatively faster than most of the Europeans, Japanese and many others and our relative place in the world economy is essentially unchanged. (BTW use PPP not the ephemeral value of currencies, so please nobody should insult our (and his/her) own intelligence by misvaluing based on currency fluctuations) . It is just that China has grown so much faster. We can go down that blaming road, but it dead ends because we are talking about China’s growth. There is simply no way around that. China uses half of all the cement in the world. Could the U.S. match that? Do we want to? That would mean that China and the U.S. would use ALL the world’s cement. It just doesn’t make sense to think in those terms. If the U.S. grew like China did in the last 20 years, it would be worse for the world.

So since some of you love it so much, I will not complain if the first few posts blame Bush. You can even say "Bushco", "the chimp" or whatever other term you guys use, but after that let's get to discussing the issue.

Posted by Jack at March 17, 2008 7:19 PM
Comments
Comment #248292

Jack, the world environment is the product of our world economies. Without human economies, the world environment would pursue its natural courses. With human economies, come your stated concerns for the environment.

Environmental concerns are rooted in the economics of human societies. America continues to be the greatest single nation consumer and polluter of the world environment. Our entire way of life is predicated on consumption far beyond our means, as our national debt, 30 years of continuous trade deficits, and meteoric rise in personal debt, attest.

Your attempt to shift the focus on China is a political ruse, and one which belies your concern for the environment as crocodile tear sentiment.

Environmental protection and defense must begin at home BEFORE one can address the issue elsewhere. When American’s make dramatic changes in their fossil fuel consumption and pollution with all the incumbent sacrifices and changes that entails, then, Americans can lead and expect and require other nations to make similar painful changes and sacrifices in defense of the world environment.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 17, 2008 7:48 PM
Comment #248293

Jack, Some in Congress have been asking for labor and environmental considerations in the “free trade” agreements we have been signing for years. Of course they have been ridiculed and shouted down in the rush to China. However this type of agreement would go a long way towards at least recognizing the problem. Its not just China its all the developing countries, China is just the biggest and most notable.
BTW good article, its been a while for you.

Oh how about we take a swipe at daddy Bush instead of Jr. as the new world order was his plan afterall. :)

Posted by: j2t2 at March 17, 2008 7:51 PM
Comment #248296

Jack,

I was in China three times in ‘95, and in Hong Kong twice in ‘97. The differences were night and day.

I saw Beijing in the spring when the trees all over the city dropped their seeds. Also during that time there was some international women’s conference, and I was told that the city had been cleaned up for that. It was, for about three or four blocks around the tourist areas (Tienanmen Sq., the Forbidden City, etc), the rest of the city was a cesspool.
I was in Dailin in the early fall, and again in the early winter. Both times the air pollution was intense, especially in the winter when they also used coal for heating.
I grew up just outside Los Angeles in the ’50s and ’60s, and could only remember air pollution like that on the worst of days.
In China it was apparently a common occurrence.
I also declined when offered river fish to eat, because I had seen the rivers. I was amazed that anything could live in that, and doubly amazed that anyone would eat anything that could live in that.

Hong Kong, other than the harbour, was as clean as you might think a British colony would be, but that it is an island may have a lot to do with that, though Kowloon was pretty clean as well.
I was there for Chinese New Year, and then again for the turnover. Both times it looked like every other big city, but cleaner than most.

Posted by: Rocky at March 17, 2008 8:25 PM
Comment #248297
America continues to be the greatest single nation consumer and polluter of the world environment.

Not any more. In fact, I think that is what the point was…

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 17, 2008 8:30 PM
Comment #248315

Jack, you are dead on. Some now say that China as SURPASSED the us in global warming gasses and they are clearly are massive growing economy and have a long long way to go. Their cities are CHOKED with pollution. The US has cleaner air that come off it than crosses onto it. The US is a carbon sink so to speak. But China is exporting it’s pollution right at us.

And of course, the left still wants to make the US out to be the bad buy…talk about burying your head in the sand.


I think that China will have to give on pollution. the day will come when America is far more energy independent and green and we will stop buying Chinese products if they continue to expand their pollution and choke us worse than they are.


In the end our Market Place which is what is powering THEIR ECONOMY will force them to go green, even as we are now starting to force ourselves to be more green.


Fuel standards have tightened under Bush and he probably didn’t want to do that. McCain and Obama and Hillary are all far more interested in clean energy than Bush and any one of them will clearly bring change in that area.

Posted by: Stephen at March 17, 2008 10:04 PM
Comment #248322

Jack,

It wasn’t Bush that caused China, it was that other crooked Republican. No not Delay, Abramhoff or all those congressmen, no not them….you know…Nixon!!!!

Seriously, does anyone else’s mouth water with a great future market of the US? Billions of Chinese with rising expectations?

Posted by: googlumpugus at March 17, 2008 10:42 PM
Comment #248326

“And of course, the left still wants to make the US out to be the bad buy…talk about burying your head in the sand.”
So there are winners here? We have become the good guys because we are only the second worst polluter in the world and we dont drag our feet as much as they do? There are heads buried in the sand alright Stephen and judging from your comments its easy to see whose spitting sand out of their mouth.

“In the end our Market Place which is what is powering THEIR ECONOMY will force them to go green, even as we are now starting to force ourselves to be more green.”

Yeah great which century Stephen? The market hasnt worked yet why do we think it will work now?We have been heading in this direction for decades and our progress has come in small steps so far due to government regulation, the market has been part of the problem not the solution, what is changing? So Stephen it seems your solution is to say our morning prayers to the market gods and all will be well.

How ironic that the pollution laws the corporations ran away from in this country have proved to be so useful yet the cheap chinese goods we import back here still have the pollution price tag coming back to roost. If there is a god of corporate responsibility he sure is snickering over this one.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 17, 2008 11:06 PM
Comment #248334
We have been heading in this direction for decades and our progress has come in small steps so far due to government regulation, the market has been part of the problem not the solution, what is changing?t

Yes, regulation is the engine of the economy, and the market is the obstacle that regulation must overcome. We have computers, televisions, automobiles, airplanes, modern medicines, etc., all because of government regulations.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 18, 2008 12:09 AM
Comment #248335

I’m not sure what your point is except you seem angry if someone suggests that it is not America that is the worlds great evil.

In my opinion we have seen change in America in the energy area. We are now headed for clean energy. Bush has signed off on cleaner cars. Obama or Hillary should be our next president and they will push us toward more renewable energy, more green energy. And even McCain is a big one for supporting the environment. So change is not only now LAW but bigger change is coming.

Millions of Americans are buying more fuel efficient vehicles, replacing wasteful bulbs with energy efficient ones. Insulating their homes. Using energy saving appliances. We are seeing states passing laws mandating increased use of renewable energy.

The problem in my opinion is now China and India. the US is now on track and will astonish us I think in how fast we can start making change happen.

How do we get China and India to clean up too? Well, we finish with our house first, then we will start demanding it of others if they want to sell us goods and services.

You think we should use the military instead? How naive. We are going to have to use trade. And carefully. China wants the worlds business. The world will demand a cleaner China….china will do what it has to do to have our business. That’s the way China will go green.

Posted by: Stephen at March 18, 2008 12:15 AM
Comment #248343

David

We were the biggest producer of CO2 until last year, but China has even beaten us there. We have not been the biggest polluter in terms of SO2, NOX etc for many years. Water and air quality in the U.S. is better than it was 20 years ago. The trends are generally good.

The whole point is that we are no longer the world’s biggest polluter AND we are no longer in lead control of this situation. A generation ago, if we, the Europeans and the Japanese (i.e. America and its allies) cleaned up, we would have significant local pollution other places, but there would have been no imminent international threat. Today if we all became zero polluters (not much chance anyway) China, India and others would quickly fill in. These trends are very bad.

J2t2

Non-tariff barrier as you mention are good in theory but they tend to be dishonest in practice.

Re the market – it does work, although some regulation and the rule of law is required. I saw an amazing change in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism. I lived in Krakow, Poland and traveled frequently in Silesia. This was what they called the triangle of death. Everything was dying. After a few years of market forces, it got a lot cleaner. We had a big steel plant called appropriately the Lenin Steel Mill. It was a legendary polluter, but inefficient. Within a short time, pollution was down around 90% as the unprofitable old stuff shut down and was replaced.

Re running away corporations – you have found the weakness of Kyoto, which exempted places like China. Most of Chinese pollution is home grown, BUT when a firm moves from a cleaner place like the U.S. or W. Europe to China or India, it tends to increase its pollution per unit of output.

Reinhold

Thanks. Yes it will take some getting used to for people NOT to blame America first.

Stephen & Rocky

China will have to come cleaner, since it is so bad that people are literally dying. You are right about the extent. China today is what environmentalists on the 1960s feared America would become. We averted that. China did not and is trending worse.

Googlumpugus

If China produced the same amount of pollution per unit of GDP as we do, their growth would not be such a threat. And the trend lines are not good in China. If you look at the “Economist” you will see that energy intensity in China is INCREASING. Ours has been decreasing since the 1940s. As I wrote above, China is what we feared we could become… and they have just started.

Posted by: Jack at March 18, 2008 12:58 AM
Comment #248350

Another weakness of Kyoto is that most of the signers would not FOLLOW it. Even Kyoto has now acknowledged they will not follow “Kyoto” targets…it does too much damage to their economy.

Posted by: Stephen at March 18, 2008 2:52 AM
Comment #248353

Jack, there you go with that Republican B.S. again. America produces more waste and pollution per capita than any other modern nation on earth.

One can’t effectively lead or persuade if one won’t accept verifiable reality as a starting point. One cannot lead or persuade effectively if one asks other to make change oneself is unwilling to make.

Thankfully, in January, America will have ejected the last of the Republican leadership and America can move on to admitting reality and working on improving it, thereby earning the privilege to lead and persuade again.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 18, 2008 3:34 AM
Comment #248354

Stephan said: “Some now say that China as SURPASSED the us in global warming gasses and they are clearly are massive growing economy and have a long long way to go. Their cities are CHOKED with pollution.”

Sounds exactly like the U.S. from 1890 through the 1970’s, when America said to hell with the environment, we have an economy to run, profits to make, and standards of consumption to raise. Oh, what a hypocritical lot Americans are, largely for lack of education and historical knowledge and perspective.

If I recall correctly, Japanese High School graduates know more about American history than American High School graduates for the period 1920 through the present. Not surprising, our political system and politicians rely on an ignorant electorate to reelect them failure after failure.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 18, 2008 3:42 AM
Comment #248355

Jack, I’d say this rates up there pretty high to be considered as a “threat”…..

http://www.jeffhead.com/redseadragon/2007.htm

Posted by: Jane Doe at March 18, 2008 3:45 AM
Comment #248361

Our society has rewarded an oblivious approach to learning. You’re more authentic, the conventional wisdom says, if you’re not some learned egghead.

The best education system in the world is worthless if people are not motivated to learn.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2008 7:38 AM
Comment #248363

David,

“America produces more waste and pollution per capita than any other modern nation on earth.”

I hate to burst your bubble, but even if the Chinese produced only half the pollution of the United States per capita, there are more than 4 times more people in China.

Do the math.

Posted by: Rocky at March 18, 2008 9:12 AM
Comment #248375

Jack

It seems to me that China has an opportunity to evolve into industrialization the right way. They have, thanks to us and the rest of the industrialized world, modern improvements and tested procedures to readily build on. We as an upstart nation had to go through the process of trial and error to come to conclusions that have taken all of the last century to accomplish. We have a ways to go yet, but we at least know where we should be. It will take some suffering and changing of the way things are done politically and economically to reach our ultimate goals. I do believe public awareness, argument, and desire to live better and more responsibly are the means and motivation that will take us to an even cleaner and more efficent standard eventually.

As Rocky says China has 4 times more people than we do. It should also be recognized that four times more people are hoping to attain a better standard of living in an exponentially faster frame of time than we accomplished those goals. I think it can be safely assumed that such a speedy process is not going to be a very efficient one. Time and a growing intolerance of the resulting pollution will be the motivator that eventually induces them as a nation to clean up their act.

Can we assume that since they are attaining industrialization exponentially faster the same will happen with regards to environmental issues?

Posted by: RickIL at March 18, 2008 10:53 AM
Comment #248378

RickIL,

When I was in China, granted this was ‘95 so things may have changed somewhat, the average laborer made about $2.00 a day in American dollars, and the Chinese government was in the process of removing millions of people from their ancestral homes to facilitate the building of the Three Gorges Dam.
China, at that time didn’t have the infrastructure in place to deliver the electricity generated by this project to truly serve the vast majority of the Chinese people.
The People in rural China lived much as they had lived a century ago, with little in the way of the “modern” conveniences we Americans have taken for granted for decades.
On top of this, China, though some changes have been made recently, still has a totalitarian government, and there is still much corruption as to who gets what.

China, even with new technologies, will be dealing with it’s pollution problems for decades to come.

Posted by: Rocky at March 18, 2008 11:22 AM
Comment #248381

Rocky

China’s current states brings to mind a book called “Devil In The White City” I don’t know if you are familiar but it is an historical accounting of a serial killer in Chicago during the Worlds Fair in the 1890“‘s. Much of the book is centered on a description of the conditions that a rapidly growing city was experiencing in the wake of the industrial revolution. The conditions are not unlike those being encountered in China today. The big difference would be that we were a democratic society at the time. China has to deal with the constrictions of communism and a rapidly evolving modernization of society at the same time. It will be very interesting to watch over the next decade just how this all plays out. They seem to have a desire to coalesce with Russia in terms of political affairs. I think what we may be witnessing is a realignment and restructuring of world powers. Perhaps unrest and futility among the citizens will lead them towards a more democratized nation in the future.

While we are much improved in the area of pollution I think it is safe to say that we are still over a hundred years later dealing with pollution problems.

Posted by: RickIL at March 18, 2008 11:53 AM
Comment #248390

David

You are mixing up at least three points.

1. The U.S. produces more pollution per capita. This is not true. It depend on what sort of pollution. We treat our wastes very well, so we produce very little sewage. We have done a good job of addressing SO2, NOX etc, so we don’t do those either. We produce more CO2 per capita but that is mostly related to the great size of our GDP. Yes, we have the biggest GDP in the world and with that comes CO2. Our energy intensity per unit of GDP is getting better. It is a problem when China, with a GDP significantly smaller than ours, already produces more pollution. What can we expect as growth increases?

2. Republicans? This really has nothing to do with electoral politics. Our use of energy and production of pollution is a long term trend. Actually we produce less pollution now than we did in 2000 (again talking total not only CO2). You may recall that in 2006 we actually decreased our CO2 emissions. This is the first time anybody has done this during a time of robust growth. Neither Clinton nor the Europeans have managed this, BTW. I hope this trend doesn’t change in January, not matter who wins. AND what America does is less important than what China does. We are trending good; they are trending bad.

3. Past growth patterns. Yes, before we knew any better we made a bigger mess. We learned our lesson and began to do much better. New technologies are available and new methods. That is why I advocate sharing some more advanced tech with the Chinese. They do not have to go through all the steps we did. They can borrow and adapt at a higher level.

RickIL
Yes, China can borrow better methods. Just as it grew so fast based on borrowed technologies it can clean up too. That is the hope to balance the threat.

Posted by: Jack at March 18, 2008 2:06 PM
Comment #248397

Jack said: “The U.S. produces more pollution per capita. This is not true. It depend on what sort of pollution.”

Total pollution per capita Jack. We are the greatest consumers per capita, ergo, we generate and cause to be generated the greatest pollution per capita. BTW, if Americans want to do something about China’s pollution, the most direct approach is to stop consuming Chinese products. Republicans opposed labeling imports to give Americans that choice.

You want to play parsing games. I ain’t buying into it. Amazing your comment’s absolute denial of basic verifiable facts and logic. Must take a lot of effort to fight so hard to preserve illusions.

Jack said: “Actually we produce less pollution now than we did in 2000 (again talking total not only CO2).”

Wrong again, Jack. You are using Republican math. Our imports from China have grown since 2000 therefore our contribution to global pollution has increased, not decreased, despite our recycling gains here. You keep trying to parse reality into illusory cherry picked segments. Pollution is a global event, and since pollution is driven by economies and since economies are interdependent, it is illogical to deny America’s contribution to China’s pollution.

Jack said: “Past growth patterns. Yes, before we knew any better we made a bigger mess.”

More illusions Jack. The great wake up call for the environment was in the mid-1960’s. I personally observed research at U of Mich. of all electric cars. They worked and were researching the battery technology then to extend the vehicle’s reach per charge. Then the research, patents, and technology were bought up and killed for another couple of decades, until the EV-1 sham came into play, proved too likable by consumers and it too was killed by the Auto and Oil industry agendas for more pollution through oil and auto maintenance profits. Our industries are retarded. They won’t advance until a foreign competitor beats them to market share with new technology and only then will our STUPID myopic short sighted American capitalist CEO’s consider a third tier market share role in competing for the new technology marketplace.

And all because we have had Republicans refusing to regulate and mandate to industry in ways that would secure instead of disable our future. It takes Democrats to increase CAFE standards even to this very late day. The GOP is a useless party save for a minority of wealthier business owners who would have no voice if the GOP were not working to keep their wealthy uncompromised by the needs of the nation and future for all Americans.

Your apologist comments demonstrate the extreme effort Republican supporters will go to, in order to preserve their faith in the GOP despite the GOP having been proved wrong by its elected offices for so long and in oh so many ways.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 18, 2008 4:19 PM
Comment #248409
Jack wrote: The U.S. produces more pollution per capita. This is not true. It depends on what sort of pollution.
For one, CO2 Emissions (1.67 times more than China).

Perhaps over-populatiion has something to do with it?

Yet, some in the U.S. seem to think we should emulate China and India ? ! ?
Yet, some in the U.S. seem to think we should continue to allow 5 million new immigrants per year ? ! ?
Perhaps they should ask China and India about all of the advantages of over-population?

    Other statistics:
    • China Population: 1.3 Billion; Total Area: 3.705 million sq. miles (3.601 million sq. miles of land = 2.3046 Billion acres; only 10% is arable)
    • China Population Density: 0.564 persons per acre
    • India Population: 1.1 Billion; Total Area: 1.269 million sq. miles (1.148 million sq. miles of land = 0.2837 Billion acres; 56% is arable)
    • India Population Density: 3.877 persons per acre
    • U.S. Population: 3.05 Million; Total Area: 3.718 million sq. miles (3.536 million sq. miles = 2.263 Billion acres; only 19% is arable)
    • U.S. Population Density: 0.1348 persons per acre
    • World Population: 6.7 Billion; Area of all land: 57 million square miles (36.48 billion acres; there are 640 acres per square mile)
    • World Population Density: 6.7 Billion / 36.48 Billion acres (i.e. 57 million square miles; there are 640 acres per square mile) = 0.1837 persons per acre
    The planet has limited resources. In 2006, there was only 1.15 acres of arable land per person, world-wide (i.e. 7.68 billion acres / 6.68 billion people).
Posted by: d.a.n at March 18, 2008 7:24 PM
Comment #248411

The U.S. (in year 2005) produced 7.37 times more CO2 Emissions per capita, than China.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 18, 2008 7:34 PM
Comment #248412

d.a.n.,

This is all well and good, but China has 4 times the population of America, and it’s economy runs on the dirtiest of coals.
They use it for electricity, they use it for heating, and in the rural areas they use it to cook.

Yes America has a problem, but it will be dwarfed shortly by China’s if China doesn’t get a handle on their pollution.

Posted by: Rocky at March 18, 2008 7:49 PM
Comment #248415

Oh and BTW,
Your estimate of the US population is missing a few zeroes.

Posted by: Rocky at March 18, 2008 8:10 PM
Comment #248416

The “pollution per capita” issue is a little tiring because of how it is used politically. We produce more pollution per capita, as Jack noted, becuase we have way, way more economic output per capita. What we have done very well is learn to reduce that pollution per inflation-adjusted unit of economic output. We produce far less pollution to build a car than we did thirty years ago. We produce far less pollution to generate a kilowatt-hour of electricity. I well remember seeing the yellow smoke emitted by power plants forty years ago. That is gone today. I also well remember the extremely dirty air of Houston in the middle ’70s. Apart from CO2 and some other gasses that have been here-to-fore seen as being largely harmless we are producing far less point-source (factory and heavy industry) emissions than we did in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s in absolute terms.

We are not doing as well with farm runoff and with more generalized emissions from sources like lawn mowers and 2 cycle engines, but we are making headway even in those areas.

Our example points to a simple fact. The larger world (recognizing that only a third of the people on Earth live in fully “developed” nations) sees clean air and water as a LUXURY they are sure they can’t afford. We didn’t think we could afford it a hundred years ago, either. We can scream about values they will see as bourgoise from now until sea levels are lapping at the feet of the Rockies and they will still want the developed economies they see us enjoying. Then, too, if you think our people will accept deep reductions in lifestyles you will likely get to visit the hell whose highway is paved with good intentions.

Want a clean Earth? Do what we can do to wean ourselves of fossil fuels and get the economies of the developing world past this dirty stage of industrialization as fast as possible. Populations will then fall, people all over the globe will worry about the color of the corals in the places where they vacation, and the pressure of humanity on the globe will be reduced.

Sound pie in the sky? Sorry. The alternative is probably modelled in the history of Europe from the end of the Middle Ages to 1945, only with thermonuclear weapons.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 18, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #248420

David,

What you describe is simple evolution. Sharks still are sharks over 300 million years after they first showed up on the planet because the design is able to dominate a “market” niche. Dinosaurs, meanwhile, showed up, dominated the world as no other creature ever has, and disappeared largely because the world changed faster then they could adapt. GM is just another form of dinosaur.

That is the key insight into understanding corporate culture. A corporation of any kind is designed to make the most of the fewest variables. It tries to exploit the profitability of a given idea as far as it can with the least possible elaboration by being the most efficient beast in its niche. As a rule corporations do not innovate well. To do so is a violation of the evolutionary logic of the beast!

It is easier to change the environment to favor the evolutionary qualities of more adaptive creatures. That is how we relatively puny, slow growing, and inefficient mammals got the upper hand on land.

Unfortunately the instrument of this evolutionary environmental change is, TA DA!, the largest, clumsiest, most dim-witted corporation of them all- the U. S. Government.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 18, 2008 8:52 PM
Comment #248422

Lee, considering that free enterprise has gone begging to government to save it from itself, don’t you think that this is maybe not such a good week to be referring to the U.S. government as a “dim-witted corporation”. If they are more incompetent then the group begging them for help, then god help us.

Posted by: charles ross at March 18, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #248424

charles ross,

You’re not a comedy writer in real life, are you? Unfortunately, yours was possibly the funniest possible response to my post.

Yes. Absolutely.

God help us.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 18, 2008 10:01 PM
Comment #248441
Rocky wrote: d.a.n., This is all well and good, but China has 4 times the population of America, and it’s economy runs on the dirtiest of coals.
Yes, I’m aware of that. I’m not sure what your point is.

Per capita, the U.S. produces 7.37 times more CO2 Emissions than China, and 1.67 times more per nation.
If you are asserting the concern of China eventually producing (per capita) as much CO2 as the U.S., I agree.

Rocky wrote: They use it for electricity, they use it for heating, and in the rural areas they use it to cook.
Yes, I’m aware fo that. Again, I’m not sure what your point is.

Ir you’re saying that causes a lower $GDP per metric ton of CO2 emissions (for China), I agree (see below).

Rocky wrote: Yes America has a problem, but it will be dwarfed shortly by China’s if China doesn’t get a handle on their pollution.
Yes, but if the U.S. (per capita) produces 7.37 times more CO2 Emissions than China, and 1.67 times as a nation, do we have any room to be criticizing China’s energy consumption?
Rocky wrote: Oh and BTW, Your estimate of the US population is missing a few zeroes.
True. Thanks. It should have been (above):
  • U.S. Population: 3.05 Million 305 Million
Lee Jamison wrote:The “pollution per capita” issue is a little tiring because of how it is used politically. We produce more pollution per capita, as Jack noted, becuase we have way, way more economic output per capita.
True. GDP per Emissions are as follows (for year 2005): U.S.A.: $2118 GDP per metric ton of CO2 Emissions. (Ranks 61 of 100) China: $525 GDP per metric ton of CO2 Emissions. (Ranks 9th of 100)

The U.S.A. doesn’t score that well against many other European Nations (see below).
The U.S.A. is 4 times more $GDP per emissions.
But U.S.A. has 3 to 5 times less $GDP per emissions than France, Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland (see below).
The problem in the U.S. is probably due to so much fuel and CO2 emissions from so many automobiles, urban sprawl, and commuting to and from work (a 1 hour commute to-and-from work, 5 days per week, is 520 hours per year, which is 65 eight-hour days, sitting in the automobile, breathing benzine, carbon monoxide, etc., not to mention the stress).

$GDP Per Metric ton of CO2 Emissions:
01___Uzbekistan_____________________$90
02___Ukraine________________________$270
03___Trinidad and Tobago____________$329
04___Kazakhstan_____________________$351
05___Azerbaijan_____________________$384
06___Turkmenistan___________________$400
07___Belarus________________________$451
08___Syria__________________________$523
09___People’s Republic of China 1_____$525
10___Russia_________________________$527
11___Iran___________________________$542
12___Bahrain________________________$552
… . .
… . .
56___Lithuania______________________$1886
57___Hungary________________________$1891
58___Colombia_______________________$1895
59___Australia______________________$1943
60___Singapore______________________$2024
61___United States__________________$2118
62___Canada_________________________$2124
63___Sri_Lanka______________________$2157
64___Slovenia_______________________$2293
65___Panama_________________________$2294
… . .
… . .
82___Germany________________________$3612
83___Spain _________________________$3678
84___Luxembourg_____________________$3773
85___European Union_________________$3782
86___Netherlands____________________$3867
87___Japan__________________________$3987
88___United Kingdom_________________$4222
89___Italy__________________________$4241
90___Cameroon_______________________$4544
91___Republic of Ireland______________$4781
92___Hong_Kong, China_______________$4880
93___Austria________________________$4997
94___Norway_________________________$5150
95___Belgium________________________$5494
96___Denmark________________________$5585
97___France_________________________$5859
98___Iceland________________________$6947
99___Sweden_________________________$7395
100__Switzerland____________________$9415

What is awful is the damage China is doing to its own environment (rivers, water sources, land, air pollution, toxic air and dumping killing people and causing birth defects, etc.). It’s a serious problem.

The Olympics start in 2 weeks. However, Beijiing has such a severe air pollution problem (despite China spending billions to reduce air pollution), that some physical endurance events may be postponed; considered a disaster by some organisers. Haile Gebrselassie, who suffers from exercise-related asthma, announced that he will not run the 42.195-kilometer race because the air pollution in Beijing is a possible threat to his health.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 18, 2008 11:52 PM
Comment #248446

David

Consumption does not equal pollution. It is possible to produce goods with less or much greater pollution. I saw that in communist E. Europe where they managed to produce both dreadful pollution and a low standard of living. China is showing that today too. If China produced a similar level of pollution per unit of consumption as we do, there would be no significant pollution problem in China.

Re making us responsible for China’s pollution - why does America have to be blamed for everything? China produces goods using inefficient methods that create more pollution. Maybe we should cut them off, condemn them to poverty for a longer time and cripple the world economy. Then we could feel morally better, but it would not solve their pollution problems for very long.

You know, liberals are really imperialists at heart. If you study the history of British imperialism in Africa, you find that they often got there because they were trying to reform the place and stamp out the slave trade. Many of the colonies were net money losers. It was not profits that drove them.

I am not sure what you advocate we do about China. Should we demand that they produce goods with the best available technologies, in which case they need fewer workers and create fewer jobs? Should we not buy their products until they reach our levels of sophistication re pollution? If America is to blame for everything, it follows that the key to change is in our hands. What do we change?

Re Republican – you keep bringing this up. Do you equate being a Republican with being an American? Our relationship with China, our methods of producing goods and our patterns of consumption are all long term American trends. They did not change significantly in 2001 and they will not change significantly in 2009, no matter who wins.

Re CAFÉ standards – A carbon tax would work. CAFÉ just moves the problem. My party does not advocate a CAFÉ standard and neither does yours (I know you will protest that you are not a Democrat, but you have stood with them since 2006).

The command and control pollution response in the 1970s worked well. When the EPA was created under the Nixon Administration, that was the way to go. We still need such things, but as we become more sophisticated we also need to unlease the power of human initiative thorough market based methods. The two methods are complementary. It is usually easier to accomplish the first 90% of a task than the last 10%. We have knocked out the easy pollution with command and control methods. Now we have to get smarter.

Re competitor beating us to the market punch, I am currently on R&R and in Europe, so I am paying a little more attention to the news that is not only Iraq or U.S. politics. The European business media is full of predictions of gloom and doom for the future of their “green” industries. It seems that in the last four or five years, U.S. investment in green technologies has skyrocketed and is now several times bigger than similar European investment. Despite the high profile projects we all see on the news, Europeans who actually work with the stuff are feeling the heat of American venture capital and American competition. This is the market at work and the result of high energy prices. Put on a carbon tax to keep this going.

It is always interesting to see other sides of the issue. Americans either feel way to happy about things in America or way to gloomy. From the other side of the ocean, we are seen as a tough and resilient society, one prone to excesses, but one that should never be dismissed. It is fun to bash us, but those who actually compete with us have a lot more respect.

d.a.n.

CO2 was only recently defined as pollution. It is only one component of total pollution even now. It has serious potential for global warming, but SO2, NOx, methane, black shoot etc. will kill you a lot faster. I am talking about total pollution. Anybody who has traveled knows that there is more ambient pollution in Europe than the U.S. and place like India or China are in a whole pollution league of their own.

Posted by: Jack at March 19, 2008 2:20 AM
Comment #248454
Jack wrote: d.a.n. CO2 was only recently defined as pollution. It is only one component of total pollution even now. It has serious potential for global warming, but SO2, NOx, methane, black shoot etc. will kill you a lot faster. I am talking about total pollution.
I agree, and just said above that China was screwing up its environment BIG TIME.

So, if you (again) are trying to put me in the category of …

Jack wrote: It is fun to bash us [the U.S.A.], …

… or portray others as traitors or America, haters of America, or bashers of America, it’s not true (see first sentence of last paragraph below). Especially since I already wrote (acknowledged) above that China was messing up its rivers, water sources, and killing many of its people with masssive amounts of toxins and waste (and I even provided a link about it above).

Jack wrote: Anybody who has traveled knows that there is more ambient pollution in Europe …
I have traveled to 5 continents and am well aware of it. One of the reasons for Britain’s decline in steel production was because it had decimated its forests. They have long term environmental damage, and so will China and India. Residents of Linfen, China in the heart of its coal-producing Shanxi province, suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer because of the poor air quality. India has a serious problem of groundwater pollution by heavy metals. Russia has three cities on the top 10 most polluted cities list:

Top 13 most polluted places/cities list (year 2006/2007; not ranked in order):

  • 01: Dzherzhinsk, Russia (300,000 people in Dzherzhinsk, a chemical weapons manufacturing site, have a life expectancy about half that of many nations).

  • 01: Chernobyl, Ukraine

  • 02: Norilsk, Russia (world’s largest heavy metals smelting complex)

  • 03: Rudnaya Pristan, Russia

  • 04: Linfen, China (many people in coal-producing Shanxi province, suffer from bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer because of the poor air quality)

  • 05: Tianying, China

  • 06: Haina, Dominican Republic (severe lead contamination as the result of battery recycling)

  • 07: Ranipet, India (leather tanning wastes contaminate groundwater with hexavalent chromium)

  • 08: Sukinda, India

  • 09: Vapi, India

  • 10: Mayluu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan

  • 11: La Oroya, Peru

  • 12: Kabwe, Zambia

  • 13: Sumgayit, Azerbaijan (Organic chemicals, oil, heavy metals including mercury, from petrochemical and industrial complexes)

Jack wrote: Anybody who has traveled knows that there is more ambient pollution in Europe …
Ahhhhh … regarding Europe (as some people are fond of pointing out), that is also because many of them have a much higher $GDP per total CO2 Emissions (see below). Also, there are a lot more people in Europe, and the population densities are much higher that the U.S. Population is a obvious factor (and impact on environment), but politically incorrect to talk about, despite the obvious impact. Yet our own government is growing the U.S. population by 5 million per year (largely by immigration; legal and illegal).
Jack wrote: Anybody who has traveled knows that there is more ambient pollution in Europe than the U.S. and place like India or China are in a whole pollution league of their own.
Agreed. Again, as I said above, China is messing up its environment in a big way. Likewise with India and other nations. And then there’s Chernobyl (another kind of pollution) with long, long lasting ramifications. 5.5+ million people are still threatened by radioactive material that continues to seep into the groundwater and soil, 20 years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded.

At any rate (despite other types of pollution) as you can see on the list below, the U.S. does not score that well (61 of 100) in $GDP per CO2 emissions (i.e. the U.S. has 3 to 5 times less $GDP per CO2 emissions than France, Iceland, Sweden, and Switzerland (see below)), and one major reason for it (a valid point, since urban sprawl literally kills; it is deadly too) is that:

    the U.S. uses so much fuel and produces so many CO2 emissions from so many automobiles, largely due to urban urban sprawl, few mass transit systems (poor urban planning), massive amounts of commuting to-and-from work (a 1 hour commute to-and-from work, 5 days per week, is 520 hours per year, which is 65 eight-hour days, sitting in the automobile, breathing benzine, carbon monoxide, etc., not to mention the stress).

$GDP Per Metric ton of CO2 Emissions:

01___Uzbekistan_____________________$90
09___People’s Republic of China 1_____$525
10___Russia_________________________$527
11___Iran___________________________$542
… . .
… . .
59___Australia______________________$1943
60___Singapore______________________$2024
61___United States__________________$2118
62___Canada_________________________$2124
63___Sri_Lanka______________________$2157
… . .
… . .
97___France_________________________$5859
98___Iceland________________________$6947
99___Sweden_________________________$7395
100__Switzerland____________________$9415

Still, there is unhealthy and deadly pollution in the U.S. too (which needs more focus).
Consider this 2007 list of the most polluted cities in the U.S.:
01: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Calif.
02: Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pa.
03: Bakersfield, Calif.
04: Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Ala.
05: Detroit-Warren-Flint, Mich.
06: Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio
07: Visalia-Porterville, Calif.
08: Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio, Ky., Ind.
09: Indianapolis-Anderson-Columbus, Ind.
10: St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Mo., Ill.
11: Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, Ill., Ind., Wis. (tie)
11: Lancaster, Pa.
13: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville, Ga., Ala.
14: York-Hanover-Gettysburg, Pa.
15: Fresno-Madera, Calif. (tie)
15: Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va., Ohio
17: Hanford-Corcoran, Calif. (tie)
17: New York-Newark-Bridgeport, N.Y., N.J., Conn.
19: Canton-Massillon, Ohio
20: Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, D.C., Md., Va. (tie)
20: Charleston, W.Va.
22: Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, Ky., Ind.
23: Huntington-Ashland, W.Va., Ky., Ohio
24: Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland, Pa., N.J., Del., Md. (tie)
24: Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md., W.Va.
24: Rome, Ga.

Five most polluted National Parks:
1: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC/TN
2: Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
3: Shenandoah National Park, VA
4: Acadia National Park, ME
5: Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA

But, while there is much room for improvement, the U.S. (based on some studies) has no places on the top 30 list of most polluted places in the world.
Part of that is lower population, and the time in which a that growing population has existing in the U.S.
We should not follow by China’s and India’s examples.
So, why are we importing about 5 million immigrants per year (most illegal aliens)?
Since population is a large factor, perhaps our incumbent politicians should ask China and India about all of the wonderful advantages of over-population (despite the short-term motives of greed and profits from cheap labor and pandering for votes)?

  • China Population: 1.3 Billion; Total Land Area: 3.601 million sq. miles; only 10% is arable; Population Density: 0.564 persons per acre)

  • India Population: 1.1 Billion; Total Land Area: 1.148 million sq. miles; 56% is arable; Population Density: 3.877 persons per acre

  • U.S. Population: 305 Million; Total Land Area: 3.536 million sq. miles; only 19% is arable; Population Density: 0.1348 persons per acre

  • World Population: 6.7 Billion; Area of all land: 57 million square miles; only 21% is arable; World Population Density: 0.1837 persons per acre; only 1.15 acres of arable land per person

Posted by: d.a.n at March 19, 2008 10:31 AM
Comment #248461

d.a.n.

I am not saying anybody here hates America, but the nature reaction to anything written good about America or even pointing out something somebody else is doing that is not good is to list American sins.

This article is about China and the growing threat its pollution poses to the world. Why do so many people bring up the problems of the United States? If I write an article saying the U.S. should reduce its use of CO2 (as I have on many occasions speaking re carbon tax) nobody feels the need to write that China is worse or that nobody else has a carbon tax.

You mention France as doing better than the U.S. I have said that on many occasions. France generates almost 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. We should do the same and our CO2 emission would fall too. We currently get only around 20% from nukes.

I understand the U.S. has pollution problems that should be addressed. But U.S. trends in the right direction and the biggest threats of the 21st Century will be coming from other places.

And why do you feel it necessary to make a list of “unhealthy” U.S. cities? You know (because you wrote it) no American city makes the top ten, or even the top 30. Where does the dirtiest U.S. city (LA) fall on the world scale? That might be a useful, although tangential, topic.

Speaking of your unhealthy cities, it must be a strict definition. I have been running my entire adult life. I have run in 9 of your top listed cities. I usually live in the Washington DC area. I cannot recall even one day in the last 20+ years when I chose not to run because of air quality. In contrast there have been several occasions in Europe when I did not want to run and there probably is not any days when I would run in any Chinese city unless somebody with a weapon was chasing me.

So let me sum up my main thesis: China has become a significant threat to the world environment and Americans must face a significant environmental threat from another country where others are making the decisions and pollution. We will not be able to solve our polltion problem unless the Chinese adress theirs.

Do you disagree with this?

Posted by: jack at March 19, 2008 11:59 AM
Comment #248467
Jack wrote: Where does the dirtiest U.S. city (LA) fall on the world scale? That might be a useful, although tangential, topic.
Not sure. But, as I wrote (stating it on the bright side despite room for improvement), no U.S. city made the top 30 worst polluted places in the world.

As for addressing and comparing problems of other nations to the U.S., that’s only natural to help put things in perspective. And more focus on our own home is natural too, since it usually has a larger affect on us.

Jack wrote: I cannot recall even one day in the last 20+ years when I chose not to run because of air quality.
Try that in Dallas, Houston, or L.A. That would be unwise to go joggin on a RED or PURPLE Ozone alert day. It will give you a headache. You can see the brown haze in the air. It’s largely from millions of automobiles commuting to-and-from work. It is very unhealthy. There are more of these alert days in the summer, and the local news provides the reports.
Jack wrote: So let me sum up my main thesis: China has become a significant threat to the world environment and Americans must face a significant environmental threat from another country where others are making the decisions and pollution. We will not be able to solve our polltion problem unless the Chinese adress theirs. Do you disagree with this?
Yes, No, and Partially Yes and No.

No to China as the major threat, when there are MANY nations, including the U.S., that are threats to the world environment too. Three of the most polluted places are in Russia, and Siberia has been severely polluted with nuclear waste.

Population is a major factor that should also be addressed.
Not just China (with 1.3 Billion people), but the U.S. too (305 Million), which is growing by 5 million per year (mostly via immigration).

If the U.S. wants other nations to clean up their acts, merely asking isn’t good enough.
If the U.S. is really the richest nation on the planet, it will need to lead the way to develop new technologies to produce energy that is cleaner and more economical, and our addiction to oil is not setting a good example is it?

Yes to China, India, and other other nations that are big polluters, but we need to set a good example too, and since we are supposedly the richest nation in the world (that is, at least for the 1 in 10 people that own 70% of all weatlh the U.S.), we should consider leading the way in research and development to develop cleaner and more economical energy. This is actually an opportunity we are missing, possibly because of our addiction to oil.

No to nuclear fission power, I’m not a big fan of it, because the waste from it is expensive and there are HUGE costs for storage, security, etc. that are subsidized by the D.O.E. (tax payers), making the over all economics questionable, they are attractive terrorist/military targets, they have the potential for massive environmental harm, nuclear fission is not a technology we would want to proliferate, and $#!+ happens (e.g. Chernobyl, 3-Mile Island, Japan, earthquakes, etc.):

  • 3-Mile Island, that was nearly the first Chernobyl.

  • Chernobyl.

  • Reported 7/13/2007, a nuclear fission power plant in England was closed due to safety issues.

  • Siberia is polluted with nuclear fission waste.

  • On 9/30/1999, Japan’s Tokaimura reactor had a nuclear fission accident that affected 83 people (some seriously).

  • And security guards at only one out of four nuclear fission power plants are confident their plant could defeat a terrorist attack, according to interviews conducted for this report by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

  • On 7/19/2007, the world’s largest nuclear fission power plant (in Japan) was closed due to damage by an Earthquake.

  • list of nuclear fission/contamination accidents here

There are probably better much alternatives than nuclear fission, and other potential energy sources:
(1) fusion
(2) geothermal
(3) solar
(4) hydrogen, OTEC
(5) tidal forces
(6) biofuels
(7) wind
(8) hydro-electric

Posted by: d.a.n at March 19, 2008 12:59 PM
Comment #248471

D.a.n., good reply. I would add that the U.S. has far more major cities than any other nation, therefore, though our cities are the top polluters individually, taken together we have far more cities than any other nation on earth. Multiply the pollution per American city by the number of American cities, and out total pollution output exceeds that of other nations with but a handful of cities, despite their being bigger polluters per city.

There is no question China with its burgeoning consumer base will surpass the US in pollution by every measure. But, with their holding 1 trillion dollars of our treasuries and their producing 35 to 40% of our consumables, what leverage do we have to motivate them to clean up their act? NONE is the right answer, obviously, save for our leading the way by cleaning up our own house with our own inventions designed to do so, and our demonstrating the cost effectiveness of doing so.

But, such an effort constitutes a threat to profitability of some of our industrial and corporate lobbyist employees who will impede any voluntary efforts to pursue that course. So, just as our government should have stepped in with sub-prime mortgage regulation and mandates, our government must step in and mandate clean up standards and deadlines and incentivize the R&D to make it possible though certain industries will suffer or even fail as a result, though new industries will be created and prosper in their place.

If left to the vested interests in the status quo, it will not happen. Obama supporters know this, which is why they buy into Obama’s reasoning so fervently. If you listen carefully, you will even hear an anti-incumbent argument toward Congress coming from Obama’s rhetoric.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 19, 2008 2:18 PM
Comment #248472

Jack said: “Consumption does not equal pollution.”

The ignorance contained within that statement is absolutely full term pregnant. America throws away vastly more plastic containers from consumption than recyclers can hope to recycle. That is just one of a plethora of examples. Plastic btw, is a petroleum based product. Hence, those millions of tons of unrecycled plastics also help keep American consumers dependent upon foreign oil imports.

America is the biggest consumer of war making materials in the world. Could there possibly be any greater single source of human pollution than unnecessary war? What does one of our armored Humvee’s get, 4 mpg? 3 perhaps? Any anti-pollution devices on them? I think not.

Conventional Republican ideology holds that war is a giant
stimulus for the economy thanks to the billions of dollars
spent in the defense industry. Yet five years into our unnecessary war in Iraq, America is in recession. DUH! So much for conventional Republican ideology.

And even worse for the fact that Republicans gave away much of our industrial base to foreign manufacturers, and has been exporting defense projects overseas. Some Democratic assistance was required for this massive export of our military industry, no question. But, the leader in the bulk of the effort has been the Bush/Cheney White House over the last 6 years.


Posted by: David R. Remer at March 19, 2008 2:33 PM
Comment #248481

David

Okay. You think America is bad in sort of an orignal sin type of way. All I know is that I have traveled lots of places and almost every place I have been is more polluted than the U.S. The only exception has been Scandinavia. China is Solent Green class polluted. There is nothign comparable in America. I know there are lots of explanations, but just getting to the bottom line something is okay in America.

I still take exception to this Republican bashing. I recall seeing plastic bottles in stores before 2001. SUVs were selling better in 1999 than they are today. Our CO2 emissions dropped in 2006, for the first time ever during a time of robust economic growth. Levels of other major pollutants we measure are lower now than in 2001. Environmental concerns are all parts of long term trends.

Many people seem to hold to this quasi religious faith that all will be well when Bush is gone. THey seem to have forgotted the past and will be sadly disappointed in the near future.

Re consumption and pollution – I saw this link NOT work in E. Europe. People there consumed little under communism but their consumption still made very deep impacts in the environment. Even in our own history, if we still produced as much pollution per unit of consumption as we did in 1960, our country would be even worse than China.

Posted by: Jack at March 19, 2008 4:49 PM
Comment #248483
David wrote:I would add that the U.S. has far more major cities than any other nation, therefore, though our cities are the top polluters individually, taken together we have far more cities than any other nation on earth.
Good point.

I suppose the U.S. would resemble West Europe (sort of).
Still, the Europeans (and many other nations) have done much better developing mass transit systems.
And they don’t all drive in HUGE Suburbans, Humvees, SUVs, and huge crew-cab pickups and trucks.
Japan has a pretty good mass transit/rail system (although it is very crowded at rush hour).
The U.S., unfortunately, went the other (wrong) direction (i.e. everyone and their dog has one or more automobiles), and Americans are now paying out the no$e for it (at the ga$oline/diesel pump$), not to mention the numerous costs and dangers inherent with urban sprawl (stealing our time, health, and wealth). Eventually, Americans are going to have to part ways with their love affair with the automobile (perhaps, when gasoline is $10 per gallon, which may not be that far away). Not only because of costly fuel consumption, but due to growing congestion, turning freeways into giant parking lots.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 19, 2008 5:10 PM
Comment #248488

d.a.n.

Two words - carbon tax. Anybody seriously concerned about the environment should support a carbon tax. Others can talk about how to blame the U.S. for what it has become. You and I can support the human innovation that will find solutions.

We can never support the sort of mass transit common in Europe, however. As you pointed out yourself, Europe has a higher population density. Mass transit requires density. That is why the Washington DC Metro has lots of riders and you can use it to get around the city and you do not have a Metro at all in a place like Phoenix. It is less of a Europe v America thing than a function of our settlement patterns.

You can see our different situations in lots of things. The related example I gave before is why I advocate not rebuilding New Orleans. We have space. In Holland, by contrast, they think it worth the money to build big sea walls.

Bottom line, however, China is the Solent Green nightmare we feared in 1970 and avoided. We need to do our best to make sure it doesn’t spread and that we can help them modernize quicker. If not, all the gnashing to teeth we have done re our environment will have been like arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: Jack at March 19, 2008 5:32 PM
Comment #248493

Jack,

Actually we are building a light rail system in Phoenix.
Whether or not people actually use it may be an entirely different story.

David, and dan,

What is your criteria for a “major city?

Is it population over a million?

As of the 2002 census the US has 9 cities with a population greater than 1 million.

China has 13 cities with a population greater than 2 million, and this was in 2000.

http://china.org.cn/english/feature/38093.htm

“China had 663 cities by the end of 2000, of which 13 had populations of more than two million each in the urban area; 27, between one and two million; 53, between 500,000 and one million; 218, between 200,000 and 500,000; and 352, less than 200,000. Some of these are industrial cities that burgeoned along with the construction of key state projects, some are port cities with favorable conditions for the opening-up, and some are famous historical and cultural cities.”

Please tell me that you don’t believe that of the top 300 of China’s major cities, not one pollutes more than any “major” city in the US.

The PRC is a festering boil on the backside of this planet, and India isn’t very far behind.

China has only truly started to industrialize in the last 40 years, and from all appearances, it only recently began to care at all about the amount of pollution it produces.

Income per capita, as a criteria, in China, is irrelevant, as few Chinese without good connections, make very much money at all. There are the very few in China that make lots of money, and the vast majority that make very little.
I would bet that our 10% that make most of the money in America would be very large indeed as compared to the very few that make most of the money in the PRC.

Posted by: Rocky at March 19, 2008 7:16 PM
Comment #248495

I can’t help but think that the United States has lost a good deal of its prestige and influence in the world on just about all levels. The rest of the world senses, correctly I think, that we do not respect them, their world, their opinions. We have positioned ourselves, we have REPRESENTED ourselves, to the rest of the world as “the shining city on a hill” or, in matters of war and diplomacy, “either you’re with us or against us”. For years, commentators, mostly conservative, have ridiculed European nations, their sensibilities, customs, views, policies as being “socialist”, “unworkable” “encumbered by bureaucracy” “anti-capitalist”; (you don’t hear that criticism so much anymore, do you?) we have portrayed the Far-East, mostly China now, used to be Japan, as being a vague, undefined threat to us (buying our assets, taking our jobs). The common man in the Middle East is completely ignored by us. We are consumed (and seek to consume!) what is under his feet. I suspect that the average, man on the street in Cairo, Baghdad or Riyadh, has some level of hatred for us not only because, we have so little respect for them but also we don’t even know or care what they think.
As it relates to the current conversation about who is worse than who as far as generating pollution, the rest of the world looks at us: three percent of the population, twenty-five percent of the energy consumption and rightfully ask: who the hell do you people think you are?
I know, from a personal standpoint, when I see people driving around in their oversized 5000 pound, gas guzzling, SUV’s (and this observation is aside from the fact that they put my life in danger, in my 2200 pound 1992 Honda Civic), I know that when they gas up they are raising the price to me at the pump and when I gas up I am lowering the price to them, I come away with much the same feeling: who the hell do these people think they are?

Posted by: Charles Ross at March 19, 2008 7:38 PM
Comment #248496
Jack wrote: David, Okay. You think America is bad in sort of an orignal sin type of way.
“America is bad”? ! ?

No. We have many problems, as many other nations do, but discussion of problems does not mean anyone is saying “America is bad”; certainly not even close to being the worst (in general) in the world. It’s only natural to attempt to put things in perspective (compared to other nations).

Jack wrote: China is Soylent Green class polluted.
Interesting movie. So, they’re eating Soylent Green now in China?
Jack wrote: All I know is that I have traveled lots of places and almost every place I have been is more polluted than the U.S.
Jack, there are many nations less polluted than the U.S. See below. The U.S. is 39th of 149 Nations ranked (with a score of 81.0 out of 100).

Environmental Performance Index Rankings and Scores (based on Environmental Health, Ecosystem Vitality, Air pollution, Water, Biodiversity and Habitat, Production Natural Resources, Climate Change, Environmental Burden of Disease, Sanitation, Urban Particulates, Ozone, Sulfur Dioxide, Conservation, Marine habitats, Irrigation, Agriculture, Cropland intensity, Burned land, Pesticides, Emissions Per Capita, Emissions per Electricity Generation, and Industrial CO2 Emissions, Fisheries, Forestry, etc.:

  • 001 Switzerland 95.5

  • 002 Sweden 93.1

  • 003 Norway 93.1

  • 004 Finland 91.4

  • 005 Costa Rica 90.5

  • 006 Austria 89.4

  • 007 New Zealand 88.9

  • 008 Latvia 88.8

  • 009 Colombia 88.3

  • 010 France 87.8

  • 011 Iceland 87.6

  • 012 Canada 86.6

  • 013 Germany 86.3

  • 014 United Kingdom 86.3

  • 015 Slovenia 86.3

  • 016 Lithuania 86.2

  • 017 Slovakia 86.0

  • 018 Portugal 85.8

  • 019 Estonia 85.2

  • 020 Croatia 84.6

  • 021 Japan 84.5

  • 022 Ecuador 84.4

  • 023 Hungary 84.2

  • 024 Italy 84.2

  • 025 Denmark 84.0

  • : . : . :

  • : . : . :

  • 039 United States 81.0

  • 040 Taiwan 80.8

  • 041 Cuba 80.7

  • 042 Poland 80.5

  • 043 Belarus 80.5

  • 044 Greece 80.2

  • : . : . :

  • : . : . :

  • 102 Indonesia 66.2

  • 103 Côte d’Ivoire 65.2

  • 104 Myanmar 65.1

  • 105 China 65.1

  • 106 Uzbekistan 65.0

  • 107 Kazakhstan 65.0

  • : . : . :

  • : . : . :

  • 144 Burkina Faso 44.3

  • 145 Mali 44.3

  • 146 Mauritania 44.2

  • 147 Sierra Leone 40.0

  • 148 Angola 39.5

  • 149 Niger 39.1

Here’s an E.P.I. MAP.

Jack wrote: d.a.n. Two words - carbon tax.
That’s sort of un-Republican ain’t it?

No, the government already taxes us enough. Besides, the cost of oil and fuel will accomplish what you want soon enough. People will get innovative when they can’t rely on oil any longer. The federal government already taxes the hell out of us (regressive taxes too). They federal government is already taking in $2.6 Trillion in tax revenues. That is more than enough to do a LOT of research and development. Since government won’t do it, despite those trillions of annual tax revenues, the consumers will have to come up with solutions themselves. And the sooner the better. If we don’t, Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., or some one else will, and we be importing more products from abroad.

Jack wrote: Anybody seriously concerned about the environment should support a carbon tax.
No, I’m not sold on that solution, since the U.S. already takes 2.6 Trillion in tax revenues per year.
Jack wrote: Others can talk about how to blame the U.S. for what it has become.
We’re all culpable. American’s have themselves to thank for their love affair with the automobile, urban sprawl, and poor urban planning. And while I’m sure the oil companies are making huge profits, but that’s not a good enough reason to punish or tax the oil companies. However, it is sort of despicable the way they have killed and discouraged research into competing fuels and energy sources, but that can’t stop others from it if they are really serious about it.
Jack wrote: You and I can support the human innovation that will find solutions.
I’m actually thinking seriously about getting into that field some way. I think as electricity and fuel get more and more expensive, there’s going to be more and more homes built that are more efficient, with a variety of methods (solar electric, wind, better insulation and venting, geothermal, solar water heaters, programmable system, etc.).
Jack wrote: We can never support the sort of mass transit common in Europe, however. As you pointed out yourself, Europe has a higher population density. Mass transit requires density. That is why the Washington DC Metro has lots of riders and you can use it to get around the city and you do not have a Metro at all in a place like Phoenix. It is less of a Europe v America thing than a function of our settlement patterns.
Hmmmmm … population density minimizes the cost per person, but that may change in time in the U.S., as personal transportation costs sky rocket.
Jack wrote: You can see our different situations in lots of things. The related example I gave before is why I advocate not rebuilding New Orleans.
Maybe. That’s up to the people that own the land. But I agree in that I don’t like the idea of vast amounts of tax dollars going into rebuilding New Orleans.
Jack wrote: We have space. In Holland, by contrast, they think it worth the money to build big sea walls.
True. The may become more difficult though as sea levels continue to rise.
Jack wrote: Bottom line, however, China is the Soylent Green nightmare we feared in 1970 and avoided.
Hmmmmm … with 1.3 Billion people, that would be a lot of Soylent Green. That might actually work in China, eh?

You know, India (with 1.1 Billion people in a smaller space) has a much higher population density than China.

Jack wrote: We need to do our best to make sure it doesn’t spread and that we can help them modernize quicker. If not, all the gnashing to teeth we have done re our environment will have been like arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Agreed. This could also be a great business opportunity for the U.S. too. One thing is for sure, the demand for fossil fuels will continue to grow if we don’t make some break throughs that are economical, and I think some Research & Development could find it. You’d think the $2.8 Trillion dollars the government is already raking in, they could find their way to do that Research and Development. Unfortunately, they squander it on pork-barrel, subsidies, costly elections, raises for themselves every year, and other waste and nonsense.

I don’t think what we really need is a carbon tax, since we have so many already (one-simple-idea.com/Taxes1.htm).
What we need is something more basic and simple.
Unfortunately, it is also elusive.
This problem, and a myriad of other problems and abuses are not likely to get adequate attention until the root problem behind those other problems is resovled first.

What we really need is leadership, but that requires an electorate willing and able to choose it.
Unfortunately, like massive trade deficits and budget deficits, we have a leadership deficit, and a responsibility deficit in the electorate.
Republicans and Democrats, continually going at each other, and wallowing in the partisan warfare is only making things worse; not better.
And things are almost certainly not likely to get better by repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

Rocky wrote: As of the 2002 census the US has 9 cities with a population greater than 1 million.
That number is larger if you include all suburbs and surrounding cities. Dallas is only about 1.2 Million, but the metroplex (Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Lewsivlle, Plano, Carrollton, Irving, Garland, Las Colinas, Coppell, Euless Bedford, etc., etc., etc.) are about 4 million people. But you may be right (I’d have to research it more). China may have more cities with larger populations than the U.S., but 10 cities in the U.S. listed below (as of FEB-2006) have more than 3.8 million people, but they have included some embedded and surrounding cities to come up with those numbers.

100 Largest Cities (by population; as of FEB-2006) in the world

1. Tokyo, Japan - 28,025,000
2. Mexico City, Mexico - 18,131,000
3. Mumbai, India - 18,042,000
4. Sáo Paulo, Brazil - 17, 711,000
5. New York City, USA - 16,626,000
6. Shanghai, China - 14,173,000
7. Lagos, Nigeria - 13,488,000
8. Los Angeles, USA - 13,129,000
9. Calcutta, India - 12,900,000
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina - 12,431,000
11. Seóul, South Korea - 12,215,000
12. Beijing, China - 12,033,000
13. Karachi, Pakistan - 11,774,000
14. Delhi, India - 11,680,000
15. Dhaka, Bangladesh - 10,979,000
16. Manila, Philippines - 10,818,000
17. Cairo, Egypt - 10,772,000
18. Õsaka, Japan - 10,609,000
19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 10,556,000
20. Tianjin, China - 10,239,000

21. Jakarta, Indonesia - 9,815,000
22. Paris, France - 9,638,000
23. Istanbul, Turkey - 9,413,000
24. Moscow, Russian Fed. - 9,299,000
25. London, United Kingdom - 7,640,000
26. Lima, Peru - 7,443,000
27. Tehrãn, Iran - 7,380,000
28. Bangkok, Thailand - 7,221,000
29. Chicago, USA - 6,945,000
30. Bogotá, Colombia - 6,834,000

31. Hyderabad, India - 6,833,000
32. Chennai, India - 6,639,000
33. Essen, Germany - 6,559,000
34. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - 6,424,519
35. Hangzhou, China - 6,389,000
36. Hong Kong, China - 6,097,000
37. Lahore, Pakistan - 6,030,000
38. Shenyang, China - 5,681,000
39. Changchun, China - 5,566,000
40. Bangalore, India - 5,544,000

41. Harbin, China - 5,475,000
42. Chengdu, China - 5,293,000
43. Santiago, Chile - 5,261,000
44. Guangzhou, China - 5,162,000
45. St. Petersburg, Russian Fed. - 5,132,000
46. Kinshasa, DRC - 5,068,000
47. Baghdãd, Iraq - 4,796,000
48. Jinan, China - 4,789,000
49. Wuhan, China - 4,750,000
50. Toronto, Canada - 4,657,000

51. Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) - 4,458,000
52. Alger, Algeria - 4,447,000
53. Philadelphia, USA - 4,398,000
54. Qingdao, China - 4,376,000
55. Milano, Italy - 4,251,000
56. Pusan, South Korea - 4,239,000
57. Belo Horizonte, Brazil - 4,160,000
58. Almadabad, India - 4,154,000
59. Madrid, Spain - 4,072,000
60. San Francisco, USA - 4,051,000
61. Alexandria, Egypt - 3,995,000
62. Washington DC, USA - 3,927,000
63. Houston, USA - 3,918,000
64. Dallas, USA - 3,912,000
65. Guadalajara, Mexico - 3,908,000
66. Chongging, China - 3,896,000
67. Medellin, Colombia - 3,831,000
68. Detroit, USA - 3,785,000
69. Handan, China - 3,763,000
70. Frankfurt, Germany - 3,700,000

71. Porto Alegre, Brazil - 3,699,000
72. Hanoi, Vietnam - 3,678,000
73. Sydney, Australia - 3,665,000
74. Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep. - 3,601,000
75. Singapore, Singapore - 3,587,000
76. Casablanca, Morocco - 3,535,000
77. Katowice, Poland - 3,488,000
78. Pune, India - 3,485,000
79. Bangdung, Indonesia - 3,420,000
80. Monterrey, Mexico - 3,416,000

81. Montréal, Canada - 3,401,000
82. Nagoya, Japan - 3,377,000
83. Nanjing, China - 3,375,000
84. Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire - 3,359,000
85. Xi’an, China - 3,352,000
86. Berlin, Germany - 3,337,000
87. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - 3,328,000
88. Recife, Brazil - 3,307,000
89. Dusseldorf, Germany - 3,251,000
90. Ankara, Turkey - 3,190,000

91. Melbourne, Australia - 3,188,000
92. Salvador, Brazil - 3,180,000
93. Dalian, China - 3,153,000
94. Caracas, Venezuela - 3,153,000
95. Adis Abeba, Ethiopia - 3,112,000
96. Athina, Greece - 3,103,000
97. Cape Town, South Africa - 3,092,000
98. Koln, Germany - 3.067,000
99. Maputo, Mozambique - 3,017,000
100. Napoli, Italy - 3,012,000

Posted by: d.a.n at March 19, 2008 7:45 PM
Comment #248497

d.a.n.,

I don’t know if you noticed in your chart, but out of your 100, China had 18% of the worlds most populated cities. America had 9%. India had 7%

I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

I don’t disagree that we need to get our own house in order before we start pushing others to follow our lead.

Posted by: Rocky at March 19, 2008 8:01 PM
Comment #248499

No one should say that the posts of others show ignorance or contain a “denial of basic verifiable facts and logic” if that individual is also writing:

I would add that the U.S. has far more major cities than any other nation…

Of the top 100 most populated city in the world, only 9 are in the US. By comparison, 18 are in China. In any case, the population size of a city doesn’t correlate much with pollution. If anything, concentrating the population in specific locations cuts down on overall pollution.

If you want to hold the US as being ultimately responsible for the pollution of other countries because we buy the goods they’re producing, then why should the buck stop with the US?

Plastic btw, is a petroleum based product. Hence, those millions of tons of unrecycled plastics also help keep American consumers dependent upon foreign oil imports.

Why not blame the producers of foreign oil who sell us the oil we make plastic out of?

Our imports from China have grown since 2000 therefore our contribution to global pollution has increased, not decreased, despite our recycling gains here.

But since, as you note yourself, we borrow so much of the money from China which we then use to buy Chinese goods, China is bankrolling much of the pollution we create in the US! Therefore, using your logic, it’s all China’s fault!

I, however, do not think it’s all China’s fault. There’s enough blame to go around, something which if very easy to acknowledge if one isn’t trying to pin all the troubles of the world on America (or, more specifically, Americans who happen to be Republicans).

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 19, 2008 8:17 PM
Comment #248501

Loyal Opp, one cannot lead others in solving their problem if one cannot solve one’s own.

Your entire reply missed the point entirely. It is not about blame, all modern economies in the world are to blame. Who is going to lead the future? China, holding our debts as a sword over our necks, or the United States by demonstrating its capacity, will, and determination to do the right thing for itself and the world first, and thereby earn the leadership role of respect for competence instead of hypocrisy?

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 19, 2008 8:24 PM
Comment #248502

Rocky asked: “What is your criteria for a “major city?”

100,000 people and with an industrial as opposed to agricultural economic base, making it a likely source city for major pollution. (Though large agricultural communities pollute the hell out of waterways and flood plains, in their own right).

Good question. Someone here knows how to debate - define the terms first.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 19, 2008 8:30 PM
Comment #248507
Rocky wrote: d.a.n., I don’t know if you noticed in your chart, but out of your 100, China had 18% of the worlds most populated cities. America had 9%. India had 7% I think that pretty much speaks for itself.
Rocky, Yep, you’re right.
Rocky wrote: I don’t disagree that we need to get our own house in order before we start pushing others to follow our lead.
True. We have to find ways to make new energy technologies more economical; otherwise, most (if not all) nations will continue to use what ever is cheapest.

It seems to me the U.S. has an opportunity here, if it could invent and sell products and technology that help pay for themselves in energy savings. But it will take some serious Research and Development. Even if we had a carbon tax here in the U.S., it would not be much of an incentive to the other 194 nations world wide that do not choose to participate too.

No we can’t tax our way out of this problem.
We need to invent (and patent) new technologies and products that will accomplish three things:

  • (1) Help everyone become greener,

  • (2) and create jobs in the U.S.

  • (3) and avert the consequences of an energy crisis.

This is where incumbent politicians in Congress could help, if they were not so thoroughly incompetent, irresponsible, corrupt, FOR-SALE, bloated, and wasteful. But that’s not likely as long as voters repeatedly reward incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 19, 2008 8:51 PM
Comment #248513

David,

So, I am going to make a few assumptions based around some rather pertinent facts.

First I am going to assume that Dan’s statistics are correct, that only 10% of China’s land is arable.
The news for the last several years is that a good many Chinese are leaving the family farm and migrating to the cities in order to make a better living.
Having been to China, and having seen the laborers, I can also make the assumption that most of those leaving the farms are unskilled, and that would put them in industry, or construction.
I also wrote before that I was in Dalian. This is a coastal city that, like San Francisco, surrounded on three sides by water. That iis where the comparison ends.
I grew up just outside Los Angeles in the ’50s and ’60s, and LA has nothing on Dalian. In Dan’s chart above, Dalian is the 93rd largest city on the planet, and I have had the unfortunate, granted anecdotal, experience to breath the air there, both in the fall, and in the winter. I was unable to see a construction site that was only .5 miles away 90% of the time over the month I was there. Mexico City comes to mind as to the level of pollution I encountered.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/4330469.stm

“Coal built China - and fuels its relentless growth today. Eighty per cent of China’s electricity comes from coal, and there are plans for 544 new coal-fired power stations to meet an insatiable demand for energy.”

The coal smoke from the furnaces, and the power plants in Dalian made LA look like Seattle by comparison.

Also from the above link;

“Over the past two decades, China has put economic growth above all else, and with 200 million Chinese still living on less than a dollar a day, relieving poverty remains vital.”

Surprisingly, the laborers I worked with in Dalian actually made twice that much. But, as you can imagine, 2 dollars American a day doesn’t go very far. The laborers lived in hovels at the construction site, even in winter, and it was bitterly cold there, being just South of North Korea.

I have also seen the rivers outside of Beijing, and I wouldn’t dip my toe in them, let alone eat anything that came out of them.

My point is that we are only just beginning to see the consequences of what China’s becoming a major player in the industrialized world will be. As the article I linked to above mentioned, China is prioritizing, and one of it’s major problems is poverty, and getting rid of poverty means jobs, and creating jobs with an unskilled labor pool means industry, or construction.

BTW, the laptop I use every day is an HP. It was built in China.
Semi-conductors are not a “clean” industry.

Posted by: Rocky at March 19, 2008 9:31 PM
Comment #248526

d.a.n.

Not sure where that list of most polluted US cities comes from. This is the list that google pulled up.

Your list seems to be based on Coal based energy sites.

Posted by: googlumpus at March 19, 2008 10:43 PM
Comment #248529

Guys,

This is Time Magazine’s ten most polluted cities on the planet, dated March 18.

Two of China’s cities came in 1, and 2 out of 10

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

I rest my case.

Posted by: Rocky at March 19, 2008 11:09 PM
Comment #248550

Rocky, I don’t disagree with anything you say. China is the future’s greatest threat to our global environment. I nor anyone else here that I am aware of disagrees with that.

You did say however, “and with 200 million Chinese still living on less than a dollar a day,”

First, assuming that 200 million is the bottom sixth of their population, what is the next 1/6th? $5 per day? And the next 6th, $15 per day? And 4th sixth, $25 or $30 dollars per day? Leaving he last 6th with most of the wealth in China. And how much waste and pollution can one buy with 2$ per day? Certainly not a vehicle. Certainly not plastic consummables.

Compared to American consumers, the vast majority of Chinese cannot begin to purchase and consume the environmentally damaging waste and refuse per day that the poorest full-time working American does. Yes, that will change over time and worsen as the Chinese create a vast Middle Class proportionate in ration to total population as ours is.

The amount of toxins Americans put on their lawns each year to run off into streams, rivers, and into drinking water treatment plants is a problem virtually non-existent in China. The amount of pharmaceuticals and hormones showing up in American tap water is virtually a non-existent pollution in China. Our military waste and pollution radically outpaces China’s today. The American West’s fences are everywhere littered with windblown plastic bags, and oceanic beach fronts are littered with plastics as well in the form of bags, wasted fishing gear, and plastic bottle bundlers.

The great majority of China’s population does not yet reside in urban areas. The majority of America’s population does. Imagine the export potential for America’s economy if we could design, manufacture, and market effective ecological urban conversions, similar to what has been done in Portland (or, is it Seattle, I forget now.) (We already have most of the designs, they have been around and taught in civil engineering courses since the 1960’s, and now and in the near future we can develop the cost effective urban conversion technologies, as well.)

But, America was one fundamental flaw preventing it from taking that course. Our bifurcated state/federal government system, which preempts so many national standard and future saving goal setting projects. America is long overdue for a national educational standard and our economy is already suffering mightily from incapacity to enforce and make real a high educational standard, as the H1B Visa debacle demonstrates.

Local Building codes backed by local developers and contractors, claiming State’s Rights and costs of changing designs and ways of doing business, impede America’s ability to design, incent, and move toward an ecologically sound and energy efficient America in 50 years, or even 150 years.

If NASA had been structured like our School system, an American would still be waiting to set foot upon the moon. Because NASA was a focused federal endeavor, it accomplished the near impossible considering space has only been accessible to us for a little more than 4 decades now.

The fact that China’s economy is federally directed is precisely why China is achieving NASA like economic results and will overtake all other nations very likely as the economic 800 lb. gorilla on the world stage in this century. National focus and commitment is America’s Left Achille’s Heel. The ability to establish such focus and commitment at the federal level and preserve individual rights and liberties is America’s Right Achille’s Heel. And the NFL like gamesmanship for power between the two major political parties is the ice berg about to sink our Titanic ship of state.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 20, 2008 5:42 AM
Comment #248570

David,

China doesn’t worry about what goes into the water treatment plants because there are virtually no water treatment plants. Those rivers I talked about were rife with raw sewage.
And yes, your mother was right, there are starving people in China, but you eating your vegetables won’t help them one bit.

China is, in many ways, still a third world country. The China I saw was like our 19th century industrial revolution.
I saw an old man in Beijing with an equally old “swayback” horse and cart selling vegetables Americans wouldn’t even look at. I saw people just dropping trou, and defecating in alleyways just off a main street. China doesn’t need to worry about landfills overflowing because they burn their trash.
China doesn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals from lawns in the suburbs, because the lawns are few and far between, and because the industries in the cities more than make up for it.

Even the poorest among us in America are spoiled by our expectations. The poor in China, and for that matter, most of the rest of the world, expect nothing, and make do with what they have, or can scavenge.

When I was in Beijing, I was a guest of Beijing University. I was treated royally, and was given a driver, though I mostly just traveled with the driver between my hotel and the university. For my 1 day off I was given an interpreter, and told to go see the sights.
For my interpreter going to Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch, was a treat, but the food was such that we in America wouldn’t accept it. It was truly awful, but I tried to be polite and ate most of it anyway (people in China don’t waste food, or anything for that matter).

America truly needs a reality check. Maybe a serious depression wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.
We also need to realign our priorities, and understand that owning everything there is to own shouldn’t be one of them.

You are right David, we are a very wasteful society. Maybe learning to make do with much less would be just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: Rocky at March 20, 2008 9:44 AM
Comment #248583

This thread has become so crowded with stats of questionable origin and significance it will take a while to catch up on and digest. The dollar GNP/CO2 output comparisons in particular I find difficult to swallow. For my part I was comparing the efficiency of industries against each other. That France, which produces 80% of its electricity with nuclear power, would be more CO2 efficient as a nation is not a surprise. I would be thrilled to see a strong push for more nuclear generation in the U.S. On the other hand, those who love the idea of fusion power should get used to the idea that the closest we will come to a safe fusion reactor in the near term is the one that is only 92 million miles away. For less than the current price of imported oil for nine months, spread out over twenty years, we can stimulate the use of a variety of solar generation technologies to completely wean ourselves of the need for foreign oil and gas and, in fifty years, eliminate the need for fossil fuel entirely. Modern power distribution technologies negate the necessity of having such power facilities in the regions where the power is consumed.

A little more on Chinese pollution. Many times in recent years China’s pollution has become so severe that the air has been not figuratively unbreatheable, but , rather, literally unbreatheable. This is so severe that people could not even use bandana-type filtration for the noxious particulates in places like Beijing and Hong Kong. They have had to resort to paper masks with activated carbon filters. My source for this is a couple whose son lives in Hong Kong who visited at a particularly bad time.

The reach of this new particulate pollution has begun to affect snows in polar regions. Unlike CO2 emissions the kind of pollution being generated in China has always been recognized as unhealthy.

Make no mistake. If our generation of pollution is a threat that of China, India, and the rest of the developing world is a true unadulterated crisis.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 20, 2008 11:23 AM
Comment #248608
googlumpugus wrote: d.a.n. Not sure where that list of most polluted US cities comes from. This is the list that google pulled up. Your list seems to be based on Coal based energy sites.
It was based on Metropolitan Areas Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24-Hour PM2.5).
googlumpugus wrote: Guys, This is Time Magazine’s ten most polluted cities on the planet, dated March 18. Two of China’s cities came in 1, and 2 out of 10 I rest my case.
No doubt about that.

However, there is room for improvement in the U.S., since:

  • the U.S. (305 Million) has 23% of China’s population (1.3 Billion)

  • but the U.S. produces 1.67 times more CO2 (NOTE: that does not mean the U.S. is more polluted; the U.S. has a $GDP per capita 4 times larger (more efficient) than China).

  • and the U.S. ranks somewhat low (i.e. 61 of 100) for $GDP per 1 metric ton of CO2 Emissions (for 100 nations analyzed in year 2005); so there’s a lot of room for improvement; one-simple-idea.com/CO2_Emissions_2005.htm#PerEmissions

Lee Jamison wrote: Make no mistake. If our generation of pollution is a threat that of China, India, and the rest of the developing world is a true unadulterated crisis.
Yes, most likely. It already literally deadly.

The U.S. has a huge urban sprawl problem that robs us of our time, fuel, wealth, health, and life.

Population has a lot to do with all of it, but no one seems too interested in ways to curb its growth (increasing by 211,000 per day!).

Posted by: d.a.n at March 20, 2008 1:27 PM
Comment #268953

POLLUTION TO THE OROYA CITY PERÚ
The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya city was between the 10 cities more polluted of the world and, the environment Graffiti 2008 said that is between five more pollute too to the world and the 2008 Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland say that Oroya is between the most polluted of the world. This qualifications are benevolents; according to my researchs to many years who I am publishing, the Oroya city is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ug/dl ( Doe Run 2003).Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)
When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium 40, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000; overall 45,000 tons for day (PAMA . El Complejo Metalúrgico de la Oroya, 1996); other research say that by this chimney only eliminate overall 119¨917,440 tons too every day to a velocity to 8.7 meters by second ( Chuquimantari C. Yauli-La Oroya Minería y Ciudades Empresas Pág. 57, 1992)
Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002
The American Association to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serious deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise
declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)

Posted by: Godofredo Arauzo at October 31, 2008 8:59 AM
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