Toxic Air: Our Other Import from China
Yay for us. Our pollution production levels are way down compared to what they were in the middle of the last
century. Seriously, things were getting really bad. Pittsburgh was considered such a hopeless mess that famed
architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose landmark
home sat nearby, when asked what to do about Pittsburg's terrible pollution responded, "Abandon
it." Lake Erie had been declared officially
Love Canal dominated headlines.
Los Angeles air was
(and still is, BTW) unbreathable. After huge public awareness campaigns. cleanup
efforts, and stricter enforcement of pollution laws, the trend halted and has reversed. That is unquestionably
The bad news is that as pollution control got better, companies found continuing manufacturing operations in
the U.S. was unprofitable based on what people were willing to pay for their products. Steel, the literal and
figurative backbone of industry, could not be mined, smelted, and processed into finished goods at a price that
would encourage innovation and growth. Timber harvesting operations found that controlling runoff, erosion, and
the environmental impact of heavy machines and trucks could not be accomplished economically. Chemical processing
plants groaned under the regulatory clamps that forced either compliance or shut-down. Electronics manufacturing
has suffered. The list goes on and on. In spite of all that, we still manage to get our needed material and
products, just not from domestic sources. Sure, a lot of Americans are out of work because of it, but our
environment is cleaner than it otherwise might be, and other people worldwide now have good jobs. Everybody wins,
Not so much. If you ignore the conditions under which a large majority of those new workers exist,
and ignore the fact that the other countries are now the ones creating all that harmful pollution, there is still
one problem. Oddly enough, it was only discovered and confirmed relatively recently. According to an article in
Discover titled, "Made
in China: Our Toxic, Imported Air Pollution," a huge amount of airborne particulate matter that is being
released into the air from Chinese manufacturing operations is making its way to the U.S. shore via transpacific
air currents. Using sophisticated methods of data collection and analysis (described in the
article), forensics have shown large quantities of black carbon, mercury, sulfur dioxide, organic
compounds, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, aerosols, etc., landing on American soil, foliage, and water bodies.
For some of the pollutants, accumulation rates from China and a few other "developing nation" regions are greater
than what is being caused by our own industry. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes ever-increasing
limits on what domestic operations can introduce into the environment. According to the article's author, it is
possible that even with our companies reducing their contributions, the amounts deposited from offshore air
currents could make compliance impossible.
That means no matter how hard we work at reducing pollutants, it will be for naught and will cause even more
companies to close their U.S. operations. Now, if you allow for the fact that EPA and environmental whacko types
are not stupid and know this to be so, you have to ask why the current laws persist. If you were the
conspiratorial type, you might look at some of the statements made recently by top-tier departmental bureaucrats
and politicians about their vision for America and conclude that they are intentionally destroying this country's
dominance in the world. Google the quotes if you are interested enough to learn who uttered the words. There are
many more where these came from.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. So, if somebody wants to build a
coal plant, they can - it's just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for
all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted."
"I can’t give you a specific number today, in large part
because the analysis upon which we would make that determination has not been completed... I think it is fair to
say there may be additional costs associated with a farming operation, but it is very difficult to quantify."
"I believe we must pass Cap and Trade because we see it as a source of revenue."
The same people who
loudly lecture us about our history of planetary destruction turn a blind eye toward the evils being perpetrated
upon other souls across the world. Those same hypocrites lavish themselves in the products of nearly slave labor
and tell us we alone are bad. They continually remind us that Americans comprise 5% of the world's population
while consuming 20% of the world's energy. Um, OK, so we don't do anything productive with that energy? Bad us, we
don't contribute much of anything to the world. No wonder nobody wants to come to live here.
I think it is
long past time that America rebuilds her manufacturing base while operating within a reasonable balance of
profitability and ecological and environmental responsibility. If we are going to suffer the ills of pollution
from one source or another, it should be from our gainfully employed citizens. In fact, it is long past time for
many countries suffering the same dilemma to reclaim their heritage invention and production.
Posted on 5/12/2011
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