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Are Exports of Products Manufactured in China Linked to US Pollution?

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Is it possible that manufacturing in China has an effect on the pollution statistics in the United Stated. The short answer: yes. Look a little closer, and you’ll see it’s not all from a negative standpoint.

A recent study released by the journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that there is a direct correlation between the export of manufactured goods to China and the air quality of other countries. How and why are of the various nature.

“Production of goods for export has rapidly expanded in China, with volume growing 390% between 2000 and 2007, although there has not been as much growth since the global financial crisis. China has generally become a ‘large net exporter of energy-intensive industrial products,’ the study said.”, reports CNN.

We all know China has become the go to player for manufacturing, especially from the U.S. What we may have not fully understood until recently was the corresponding boom in coal burning power plants. “Coal use for generating electricity is a big part of why carbon dioxide emissions have nearly doubled their rate of growth worldwide, according to a leaked report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by CNN.”

This is not to say that China is the main cause of US pollution, but a key point also likely unforeseen is westerly winds which have been known to carry chemical and other pollutants across the entire Pacific Ocean in a matter weeks, if not days. Due to the topography of the western portions of the U.S., with it’s valleys and basins and whatnot, pollution can have a tendency to stay where it lands, if it lands there. For the U.S. as a whole, there is a net benefit, as the overall populace is more dense in the east, where pollution is on the decline. It’s a bit of a “6-in-1, half a dozen in the other” situation.

The future, however, is far from bleak. We, as the stewards of this fine planet of ours, have within our power the ability to make changes along these lines. International cooperation and an increase in the efficiency of manufacturing processes is as fine a place to start as any.

(H/T CNN.com & PNAS.org)

By | 2017-02-01T14:57:07+00:00 January 21st, 2014|ITI News|

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