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Science Technology

Global Air Pollution, From Above 545

Posted by timothy
from the but-poverty-is-noble dept.
neutron_p writes "Based on satellite observations, the high-resolution global atmospheric map of nitrogen dioxide pollution makes clear just how human activities impact air quality. I'm a bit surprised not to see that many red blobs above US and the strange one is on the east of Russia."
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Global Air Pollution, From Above

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  • Take note (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:30PM (#10497285) Homepage Journal
    Take note everyone, the biggest red blob is over China (insert communist jokes here). For all the whining and complaining about how the US should have joined the Kyoto accord, it's very easy to see that China is the #1 offender, and that Europe is not doing so hot itself. What good would Kyoto have done if it exempted [sfsmith.com] the country who needs it most?

    That being said, China is still developing. Pollution should be a big concern for them, but it's an unfortunate fact of life for now. As their technology improves, the pollution levels should drop. With one caveat, that is:

    Many modernized countries have sent their manufacturing to China. Thus placing restrictions on countries to reduce their emissions will do little good when we've already sent the real pollution over there. I'm not sure how we can respond to the situation, but it's important to pay attention to it.

    The blob over Canada is actually a bit surprising, but I'm guessing that's related to the earlier article on the odd increases in pollution levels. I do have a thought on why North America sees less pollution than Europe, however. Since the North America has a massive amount of farmland and forest land, a good deal of the pollution is sapped up by these massive carbon sinks. This doesn't actually impact NO2 levels, but it does explain some of the pollution reduction.

    FWIW, it seems that NO2 is primary produced by cars [airqualityontario.com]. Moving to the hydrogen vehicles of the future may help stop almost all NO2 production.

    (P.S. I know slashdotters have a penchant for insulting people, but please try to keep your replies civil. I don't know everything, so correct me in a polite manner. Thank you.)
    • Re:Take note (Score:4, Informative)

      by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot AT m0m0 DOT org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:35PM (#10497346)
      you are exactly right

      but, not to take away from any of your statements at all, there is a gigantic underground coal fire in china that emits enough CO2 in one year to equal and surpass all exhaust from all cars in the US.

      and that's just the coal fire burning coal, not counting all of the industrial development in china. it's no wonder things must be insane over there.

      here's the first site i could find with info, there are better:
      http://www.itc.nl/personal/coalfire/problem/china_ coalfire.html [www.itc.nl]

      i had to repost, my first post was to the wrong place.. woops.
      • Re:Take note (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot AT m0m0 DOT org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:40PM (#10497402)
        this link works [www.itc.nl]
    • Re:Take note (Score:5, Informative)

      by plopez (54068) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:36PM (#10497355) Journal
      I can't get to the link due to what appears to be the slashdot effect, but the synopsis says NO2 only.
      No CO2, sulpher dioxide, methane, ozone, light hydrocarbons or other pollutants.

      So to say the US is blameless is premature, you need to see all the pollutnats and how they interact.
    • ...but China is set to outpace US oil consumption very soon.

      With this much competition for oil, and peak oil production close or possibly already passed, it's sobering to think about what could be...

      (And alternative fuels won't be the only way to release ourselves from oil dependence. One would hope that we'd continue to heavily research nuclear, including fusion, options; plans for complete nuclear non-proliferation completely kill any significant efforts in these areas, even for energy means.)
      • by Ctrl-Z (28806)
        (And alternative fuels won't be the only way to release ourselves from oil dependence. One would hope that we'd continue to heavily research nuclear, including fusion, options; plans for complete nuclear non-proliferation completely kill any significant efforts in these areas, even for energy means.)

        Are nuclear options not alternatives to fossil fuels?
        • Not in this context (Score:3, Informative)

          by daveschroeder (516195) *
          "Alternative" in this context usually refers to non-nuclear (and non-fossil fuel). Wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, etc.
        • Are nuclear options not alternatives to fossil fuels?

          Yes. And No.

          There are two sides to the equation of power generation. One is large stationary power plants. Switching these to ever more modern nuclear designs would make a lot of sense, and would improve things dramatically.

          Unfortunately, the other side of the equation is portable power generators like petroleum engines. (i.e. your car) These use power independent of the stationary plants and are much harder to find alternatives for. The best suggesti
          • by ivan256 (17499) *
            Unfortunately, the other side of the equation is portable power generators like petroleum engines. (i.e. your car) These use power independent of the stationary plants and are much harder to find alternatives for. The best suggestion so far seems to be to switch to hydrogen for fuels, then create the hydrogen from the stationary power plants

            Better yet: Build nukes, and let people juice their cars up on hydrogen that they generate in their home garages through electrolysis of water using all that nuclear g
        • I recall that China plans to go massively nuclear- I bet that this will help immensely...though maybe not for auto pollution. China goes Nuclear [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Take note (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When it comes down to it, the only way the US would be harmed by Kyoto is electric power generation and automobiles. Since manufacturing is no longer done in this country, it wouldn't really harm industry. All of our pollution is now from power plants or cars. People have claimed that the purpose of Kyoto is to harm the US economically. I think the real purpose is to change American lifestyles and force them to take inefficient public transit and use less electricity. Either way, Kyoto is dead in the water.
      • Re:Take note (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jsebrech (525647) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:06PM (#10498212)
        I think the real purpose is to change American lifestyles and force them to take inefficient public transit and use less electricity. Either way, Kyoto is dead in the water. The only countries who agree to it are the ones that can use it as a weapon against competitors. Since the US Senate voted 98-0 in favor of scrapping it, this treaty will never be ratified, with or without Bush's support.

        Wow, a lot of myths there, let me just cover the major ones.

        Myth #1: public transportation is always inefficient.

        Take a look at the public transportation systems of most of europe. There's no reason public transportation needs to be expensive, low-comfort, or have lousy geographic availability.

        Myth #2: the american lifestyle must be changed to reduce energy use in america.

        In fact, america could cut its energy use in half without a measurable impact on consumer lifestyles, through tried and tested energy reduction policies which have been employed in europe for years (and europe is pretty bad itself when it comes to energy use), but because the US energy industry funds american politicians (democrats and republicans) heavily, nothing ever gets done about it.

        Myth #3: kyoto can't be realized without US cooperation

        All that is needed is russia ratifying it, and putin recently said he will. So within a year kyoto will become active, if putin keeps his word that is.

        Myth #4: kyoto is a tool for the rest of the world to "go after" america.

        Kyoto is simply a tool to stop greenhouse gas levels from rising further, because they're already at the highest they've been in a million years, and if they rise much further dramatic climate change is inevitable. The cost of not doing anything far outweighs the cost of preventing it. The last time there was this much carbondioxide in the atmosphere, there were no polar ice caps. The sad thing about kyoto is that it was watered down significantly to be palatable to the US, and still america broke its word and didn't ratify it.

        Myth #5: the only countries to join kyoto are those that have petty political reasons

        Right now, 126 nations have joined kyoto (and not just signed the treaty). This is the vast majority of the planet, if measured in population (but sadly, without the US and russia, not in pollution).
    • Re:Take note (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aeroegnr (806702)
      Even if all the cars in the world were hydrogen, we would still be polluting. Where do you think the electricity to make the hydrogen comes from? In the U.S., we'll have to get realistic about nuclear power and reprocessing, or else we won't have any alternatives to coal.
    • Re:Take note (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Martin Blank (154261) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:40PM (#10497406) Journal
      The blob over Canada looks to me more like it's over the industrial sections of the Northeast, particularly the steel belt running from Ohio through Pennsylvania. I know the steel producers are regularly villified for pumping evil into the air, so perhaps this is just one more of them.
      • "Steel Belt"??? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Black-Man (198831)
        Huh? Like have you been living in a cave? The steel industry in WesternPA and Eastern Ohio imploded in the early 80's. Given this fact and the fact of the massive population migration, I doubt it's being caused by automobiles.

        The Ohio River Valley is a chemical belt and my best guess would be these plants that run from Louisville/Huntington/Parkersburg/Wheeling.

    • You've got a good pair of eyes! The image is very small. I can barly see a thing. Anyway, the blob you see in Canada seem to be in Alberta, where they extract petrol.

      Pollution level does match the population density, it's just plain normal.

    • Re:Take note (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drmike0099 (625308) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:43PM (#10497437)
      Looks like it's largely spilling out from the major industrial areas, which doesn't jive with the article you quote, but does go along w/ the article that the picture is in. It's spilling largely from the Detroit/Chicago area in the USA (as well as Pittsburgh/south NJ), eastern China, and southern England on that map, which coincides nicely w/ industrial centers. There really wasn't anything on top of Canada, I grew up under the northern end of that big red blob, and I was in upstate NY.

      One of the lower posters also raised a good point. Being a successful economy means you can use your sources of energy to create more money. The USA has mastered this, largely because we were one of the first nations to do this, and because we were blessed w/ huge amounts of wood, then coal, and then oil that allowed us to get so far ahead. This is grossly oversimplified, but a lot of our infrastructure is already paid for, so our energy is cheap. Contrast that w/ China, who is just now trying to create that "good living through more energy" that we've enjoyed for decades, and you realize that their costs are higher. If they did it in a environmental way, it would cost even more, and they wouldn't make it as far w/ the same amount of money. It's easy to see why they have a black cloud, cuz that's what their money dictates. They'll spend more money in the future on it, but not until their (newly wealthier) middle class starts demanding it, and then they'll pass the cost along.
      • Re:Take note (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gwernol (167574)
        Looks like it's largely spilling out from the major industrial areas, which doesn't jive with the article you quote, but does go along w/ the article that the picture is in. It's spilling largely from the Detroit/Chicago area in the USA (as well as Pittsburgh/south NJ), eastern China, and southern England on that map, which coincides nicely w/ industrial centers. There really wasn't anything on top of Canada, I grew up under the northern end of that big red blob, and I was in upstate NY.

        England isn't a ma
      • Re:Take note (Score:3, Informative)

        by drmike0099 (625308)
        I found more info on it, this from a study done about 4 years ago in California (since I was curious why that map showed essentially nothing over Los Angeles, which has a ton of traffic, improved emissions standards notwithstanding). It didn't actually answer my question, but it's interesting nonetheless (pasted from a PDF). While this talks mostly about traffic, it does mention power plants, which is probably responsible for some of the really wacky ones you see on there (like China's incredible numbers,
    • Re:Take note (Score:5, Interesting)

      by krlynch (158571) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:46PM (#10497458) Homepage

      This doesn't actually impact NO2 levels, but it does explain some of the pollution reduction.

      The primary reason that you don't see this type of pollution in the US is that the federal and local governments have taken a very agressive stance on NOx and SOx reduction from transportation (cars, trucks, and trains) and power plant (coal) sources. Some here have complained that the attack on these pollutants (along with particulate emission) has a lot to do with our lower fuel economy standards, as the rules make it pretty difficult, for instance, to introduce diesel powered cars, and they mandate the use of catalytic converters.

      It isn't hard to understand why this has happened, either. NOx and SOx are the primary drivers of acid rain and smog, both of which directly and visibly impact quality of life in densely populated areas, like cities. Fixing them isn't something we have fought against, since the vast majority of Americans work and live in or near major cities, even in the "sparsely populated" parts of the country.

      Western Europe on the other hand has chosen to go after consumption, and driven up fuel efficiency at the cost of reducing these types of pollutants. Given that Europeans tend to live in smaller, more distributed communities than Americans, smog, while a problem in Urban areas, directly impacts fewer people on a day to day basis than it does here.

      • Re:Take note (Score:4, Informative)

        by Mac Degger (576336) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:11PM (#10497710) Journal
        There's an even better, yet much more cynical, reason why NOx and SOx are so heavily regulated; they're the polutants which you can see and smell. SOx isn't even that bad for you, but it smells like shi^H^Hsulfur. There are other polutants which are much, much worse for you, much more deadly, but aren't as readily visible or nasally detectable.

        It's sad to say, but politicians go after the obvious, not the bad. If you can't smell it, they seem to be doing their job, even if the crap you can't smell or see is killing you and little is being done to stop the use/spread/contamination.
      • Re:Take note (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ricdude (4163)
        Introducing diesel cars that meet stricter emissions requirements in the US only requires reducing the sulfur content of diesel fuel. Once that happens, the US can use all the cool exhaust treatments that are used *today* in the EU to meet their stricter emissions requirements. In 2006, ULSD (ultra low sulfur diesel) standards take effect, and you will see some more diesel vehicles on the market.

        Last year, the only manufacturer of diesel passenger vehicles in the US was Volkswagen. This year, Mercedes (
    • Re:Take note (Score:5, Informative)

      by Specter (11099) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:46PM (#10497465) Journal

      National Geographic had an article recently about pollution in China and it was just down-right frightening.

      Excerpts from the March 2004 issue are available here: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0403/featu re4/index.html [nationalgeographic.com]

    • The blob over Canada is actually a bit surprising

      Looks like it's the Michigan Lakes area. That's a heavy industrial area in the US (steel mostly I think).
    • Re:Take note (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For all the whining and complaining about how the US should have joined the Kyoto accord, it's very easy to see that China is the #1 offender, and that Europe is not doing so hot itself. What good would Kyoto have done if it exempted the country who needs it most?

      Umm... what? That makes no sense. The #1 offender being exempted doesn't magically erase the good of all the other countries signing the treaty. It's like saying "what's the good of arresting lesser terrorists if we haven't arrested Bin Lade

      • The #1 offender being exempted doesn't magically erase the good of all the other countries signing the treaty. It's like saying "what's the good of arresting lesser terrorists if we haven't arrested Bin Laden?"

        Look at the map. The NO2 levels in all other areas of the world don't even begin to compare to those of China.

        For future reference, characterising other people as whiners is not a good idea if you want replies to be civil.

        My apologies:

        s/whining and complaining/loud vocal complaints/g
    • by Tristan7 (222645) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:50PM (#10497502)
      China has prohibitted the burning of wood by anybody, and has undertaken a massive reforestation project across the nation. Wood fires produce incredible amounts of pollutants, especially open cooking fires. By reforesting wherever they can, various types of pollution will be reduced. Of course, all this takes time, but it is a good step.
    • If you look closely you can see that the U.S. has some hot-spots, concentrated over the northeast and the west coast. Which include New York and L.A. respectively.

      That's similar to how the electoral map looks.

      ILL Clinton
      Maker of Machinima movies. [illclan.com]

    • Well, also take note that the "red zones" across northern/central US also coorespond very well with the large concentration of coal burning power plants that exist in that area (mainly due to the easily availability of coal in that region).

      So, I while car may be the primary producer, the amounts created are able to be dissapated/reduced/reused/stored by the environment/local areas. While coal power plants and coal fires produce a dramatic spike that can not be absorbed by the surrounding environment.

    • good start (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:51PM (#10497526) Homepage Journal
      With or without Kyoto, China would be pumping pollution into the air. But with Kyoto, the rest of us would be pumping less, so that alone is reason enough to comply. The other, more subtle, reason is diplomatic. It's impossible for the US to pressure China into even minimal Kyoto compliance when the US hasn't signed it. Signing it would help us pressure them. Kyoto is a good start, which is better than nothing. The perfect is the enemy of the merely good. Even humans have to take baby steps towards big changes, walking before we run. Giant polluting countries are even more disposed towards incremental progress.
    • Re:Take note (Score:5, Insightful)

      by halftrack (454203) <jonkje@gma i l . c om> on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:53PM (#10497545) Homepage
      I'm a bit confused by the angle of your post. It seems to me that you would want China to reduce its emmissions too. However according to wikipedia China emits 2.3 tons per capita of CO2 while the U.S. 20.1 tons per capita (Europe at 8.5 tons per capita.) and isn't this the way to look at emissions? I believe that there is a base energy requirement to support one person and that for most of the world this - sadly - means burning fossil fuels. (At least at present time.) Thus shouldn't China really be allowed to release 5 times (gross product) as much as the U.S?

      Now there aren't AFAIK any restrictions on China or other developing countries, but China has ratified the agreement and when they really step up as an industrialized country they will have restrictions imposed thus it is in their interest to stay within the future requirements.

      Had there been placed restrictions on China or other developing countries they probably never would have signed the agreement because it might have inhibited their growth. (Now what is the real reason the U.S. isn't signing?)

      Furthermore I don't think the true objective is reduced emissions, we're far to spoiled to let that happen. The point is getting a situation under control before it gets out of hand.

      (P.S. I know slashdotters have a penchant for insulting people, but please try to keep your replies civil. I don't know everything, so correct me in a polite manner. Thank you.)
      Ditto
      • Well if per capita is how we're going to measure it then pollution reduction is going to get a lot more popular in the US! Just think all we have to to is bump the population up to bring our per capita numbers down!

        Just think: "Save the environment, have sex TODAY!"

        Woo hoo!
      • Re:Take note (Score:5, Insightful)

        by amper (33785) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @02:06AM (#10500896) Journal
        Some things to think about, courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

        US population (2004/07 est.): 293,027,571
        China population (2004/07 est.): 1,298,847,624

        US population growth (2004 est.): 0.92%
        China population growth (2004 est.): 0.57%

        US industrial production growth (2003 est.): 0.3%
        China industrial production growth (2003 est.): 30.4%

        US GDP per-capita (2003 est.): 37,800 USD
        China GDP per-capita (2003 est.): 5,000 USD

        US GDP real growth rate (2003 est.): 3.1%
        China GDP real growth rate (2003 est. official data): 9.1%

        US electricity consumption (2001): 3.602 trillion kWh
        China electricity consumption (2001): 1.312 trillion kWh

        US oil consumption (2001 est.): 19.65 million bbl/day
        China oil consumption (2001 est.): 4.57 million bbl/day

        US natural gas consumption (2001 est.): 640.9 billion m^3
        China natural gas consumption (2001 est.): 27.4 billion m^3

        How long do you think it will take China to catch up with the US? How much energy will China be using then? How much pollution will China be creating then?

        And, as an aside:

        US GDP (2003 est.): 10.99 trillion USD
        China GDP (2003 est.): 6.449 trillion USD

        US current trade account balance (2003): -541.8 billion USD
        China current trade account balance (2003): 31.17 billion USD

        How long will it take the US to go totally bankrupt?
    • NO2 is one of the pollutants that is measured and restricted in California's smog tests.
    • Re:Take note (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina (71715)
      I think this satellite is almost entirely mapping pollution from coal fired power plants, and coal involved industry like steel production.

      "The blob over Canada is actually a bit surprising"

      Not sure which blob you are talking about. The really bad one in Eastern North America is almost certainly coming from the massive concentration of coal fired power plants in Ohio, Pensylvania and West Virginia some of which drifts in to Canada.

      The lighter blob in Western Canada is almost certainly coal fired power p
    • Re:Take note (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:13PM (#10497723)
      If you accept that human emissions of greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming (which it sounds like you do) then you'd also agree that we have to do something about stopping it. The developed countries including the US should be the ones leading the charge away from greenhouse gas emissions. This is for no other reason than it's the developed countries that are best able to afford the changes to power plants, fuel efficient cars, etc.

      We've already done the exact same thing with Ozone depleting chemicals with the Montreal Protocol in 1987. The developed countries largely payed for the technology development for safer ozone depleting gasses and the developing countries get a bit more time to implement it. If developing countries don't, you're in a lot better position to start imposing sanctions, trade policies, etc to try to get them to do so. If you just sit on your hands and do nothing, that's probbably what you're going to get.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@beauTOKYO.org minus city> on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:30PM (#10497288)
    The submitter is suprised, but I'm not. Wealthy nations can AFFORD the luxury of enviromentalism, unlike poor ones like the former Soviet block and the third world. The solution is obvious, encourage more nations to become wealthy by helping them become free.

    No serious student of current events can escape the reality that political freedom and economic prosperity are linked. The old soviet empire attempted to foster economic openness to gain it's productivity benefits while keeping political freedom in the hands of the Party. They failed. China is making the same attempt and the signs are they are also going to fail. Freedom is the natural state of affairs and you can't supress it in one sphere while keeping it in the others.

    Rising standards of living solve most of the pressing problems facing the world today. Birth rates are lowest in the free/wealthy nations and highest in the poor/oppressed ones. Wealthy/Free nations don't tend to make war on each other. Wealthy nations don't tend to produce terrorists either.
    • I believe in your first statement, that wealthy nations can afford the luxury of environmentalism and that goes a long way in curbing pollution from industrial sources. However, I think that as a developing nation becomes wealthy and enacts pollution controls on industry, any environmentalism is offset by sheer numbers of individuals. This is a very complicated subject, but to take just one example... Currently, 1 in 3,000 Chinese people owns a car (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/ 0 628_
    • "The solution is obvious, encourage more nations to become wealthy by helping them become free."

      So, BushCo should just keep trucking the troops into every non-democratic country to enforce democracy at gunpoint? I mean, Iraq and Afghanistan are such "Cataclysmic Successes" [Bush, 2004] and we all know that our humanitarian efforts are applauded by the international community.

      I'm sure most non-G8 countries are lining up to be the next ,a href="http://home.iprimus.com.au/korob/fdtcards/C e ntralAmerica.
    • The solution is obvious, encourage more nations to become wealthy by helping them become free.

      Unfortunately, the entire world cannot be free, because it simply isn't big enough. Imagine cramming 100 people in a 12' by 10' cell and telling them "Now, be free and happy!" What's going to happen?

      Inevitably, some of the people who are stronger, more intelligent, or more persuasive than the others will end up shoving the "undesirables" into a cage in the corner of the room in order to give themselves "breath

    • Rising standards of living solve most of the pressing problems facing the world today.

      Perhaps, but not pollution . . . as global prosperity increases, so does global pollution. Efficiency of energy and resource usage increases, but overall consumption also increases such that overall there is a net increase in environental impact. One may argue that Kuznet's curve predicts that as people become more wealthy, they care more about the environment. this has been shown to be true in many locals; however, I'

    • by demachina (71715) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:00PM (#10498727)
      "China is making the same attempt and the signs are they are also going to fail."

      Bullshit. China is almost assured of being a raging economic success at this point, as long as they can keep a handle on their raging growth. You specifically mentioned them, and tried to dismiss them, because they derail your whole "Freedom and Democracy = "Wealth" theory. Singapore is another raging financial success and they aren't a towering symbol of freedom either.

      The U.S.S.R's major economic failing was they chose economic isolation, and the west obliged and economically isolated them. They also impaled themselves on a misguided war in Afghanistan, a quagmire very similar to Vietnam and the new Iraq.

      China astutely figured out they had lots of the thing Capitalis want most, cheap, oppressed, well educated labor. Rather than fighting the West like the U.S.S.R they threw their doors open and hung out a welcome sign. Capitalists can't tear down their factories in the West and ship them to China fast enough.

      China is almost certain to surpass the U.S. as the world's economic superpower unless something cataclysmic happens, especially if the U.S. keeps its head up its ass and keeps handing all its capital and IP over to China.

      "Rising standards of living solve most of the pressing problems facing the world today."

      Excepting of course energy consumption and pollution.

      "Wealthy/Free nations don't tend to make war on each other."

      No but they do make war on poor nations especially ones they want to turn in to colonies, reference the British empire, the French empire, the German empire, the American empire(formally dominating the Phillipines and the entire Western Hemisphere and now moving to Asia and the Middle East.

      Its a lot easier to be a "free/wealthy" nation when you are looting poor third world nations where you've installed dictators who do your bidding.

      "Wealthy nations don't tend to produce terrorists either."

      Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, though the wealth is poorly distributed, and it produced most of the 9/11 hijackers.
  • by Splinton (528692)
    I see Johannesburg is the bright spot in Africa - probably has much to do with Sasol [sasol.com] oil-from-coal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that is likely due to some forest fires that have been burning in siberia
  • A quick mirror (Score:3, Informative)

    by Exocet (3998) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:32PM (#10497306) Homepage Journal
    Since this site will probably get slashdotted ...I went ahead and made a quick PDF mirror [exocet.ca] of the article.

    I don't normally make mirrors so if someone has a better method (somehow using wget?) lemme know.

    PS: this is off've my 1.5Mb/768Kb DSL line, so don't expect any miracles.
  • Red blob (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:32PM (#10497307) Journal
    I'm a bit surprised not to see that many red blobs above US and the strange one is on the east of Russia.

    That's the "Red menace", we've known about that since the '50s
  • by drivers (45076) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:32PM (#10497309)
    on the east side of Russian is called "China."
  • night map (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coneasfast (690509) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:33PM (#10497319)
    note how the red areas are somewhat similar to the light areas on the nasa night map [sourceforge.net]

  • not so surprising (Score:2, Informative)

    by uujjj (752925)
    The US does have fairly strict emmisions laws (hence the small number of diesels). Any Americans who have traveled to Europe in the summer months will notice that they often have higher smog. London and Rome are especially nasty.
  • I didn't see anything in the article about DHMO.

    I'm sure that DHMO has something to with this since it is far worse for the environment.

  • Russia? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:37PM (#10497371) Homepage
    Um, no, that's largely China and maybe the Korean peninsula, although it does extend far enough to the North to encompass Vladivostok I think. Still, I suppose they have a better excuse than we do here Europe... That big red blob is mainly over the lowlands of Holland and surrounding areas, so it's either tulips or the output from the "coffee" shops of Amsterdam. I'm thinking it's probably not the tulips. ;)
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:39PM (#10497386) Homepage
    I have a Coral cache [nyud.net] of the pollution image map.
  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:48PM (#10497483) Journal
    One of the biggest reasons why global warmning proponents have had issues in third world countries is not because their facts are inherently in err, but because the developers cannot understand why "Americans want us to make them a building" and "Other Americans want us to make it the 'wrong way'". They know how to make a building, the same way they always have, yet some foreigner comes in and says they are doing it 'wrong'. It's like telling them, "You're not doing it the way God wants you to".

    You can't tell someone that the world is dying when it is right in front of them, unchanged for years. They are trying to make a living, they get offered an opportunity to improve their environment, and don't change. Yet for some reason, even with *this* atmospheric data you can see who the "big offenders" supposedly are.

    Why then, do global warmning advocates expend so much time and effort making third world countries try to adhere to restrictions even the US and China don't want to?
  • by Mstrgeek (820200) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:48PM (#10497484)
    a well done site dealing with air pollution

    http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/onlcourse/chm110/outl ines/topic9.html

    Global Pollution and Climate Change http://www.jri.org.uk/brief/climatechange.htm

    this is a great write up with good information

  • by Delusional (574271) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:50PM (#10497504)
    Are we looking at different images, or are the commenters just as ignorant of geography as the average slashdot reader is ignorant, of, say, the mating rituals of the human species? Or have we been overrun by neocons?

    The single biggest blot, other than the one over everybody's favorite red menace, is square over the northeastern US. The richest country pollutes more than anyone except the country that does all of the richest country's dirty work (and has more people than everyone else combined, to boot).

    LATFI! (look at the _ucking image!)
  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:54PM (#10497559) Homepage Journal
    I'm not surprised about the concentrations of pollution in Northern China and Siberia. The Soviets put quite a lot of industry in Siberia (why?) and it pollutes a lot. After all, the folks in Moscow were never going to smell it.

    In Alaska, we often see a hazy [alaska.edu] sky [nsidc.org], caused by pollution from Siberia and points east.

    For the long term, we should probably be more worried about the Soviet nuclear waste [atimes.com] the Soviets and now the Russians have accumulated in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. Then there's the nuclear plants [rosatom.ru], two of them in Siberia, that we're down wind of. They were built by the same government which brought us Chernobyl [kiddofspeed.com].

    If you're looking for things to worry about, you'll never run out.

  • Opening our eyes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:55PM (#10497565) Homepage Journal
    The article's maps show an example of how "human activities impact air quality". But of course Greenhouse deniers will whine that there's no evidence that puny humans can affect the big, wide world. There's ample evidence that we are locked in a vital interaction with our atmosphere, affecting it for better or worse with our industrial activities. When you hear people denying even the possibilities that are demonstrated simply and graphically as this, you can discredit any further comments. Or let them draw you into their denial to your mutual detriment.
  • I don't believe it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bigtangringo (800328)
    I'm sorry but I don't believe anything scientists say about the climate.

    If you read http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/environment/ [newscientist.com] it's quite obvious climatologists have no idea what the hell they're talking about as almost every article contains something about "this new information radically changes the way scientists think about xyz."

    Don't get me wrong, we do need to stop burning fossil fuels, stop driving SUVs and shoot trash into the sun. Climatologist is still synonymous with quack in my book.
    • by pclminion (145572)
      You "don't believe it?" How can you "not believe" a map? Do you think the satellite is biased? Tell me, do you think the satellite will vote for Nader?
  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:01PM (#10497620) Journal
    ... and then there is the dark ages --- talk about air pollutants... [luminet.net]
  • from the article:
    "Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a mainly man-made gas...It also plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry, because it leads to the production of ozone in the troposphere"

    Wait...I thought mankind was destroying the ozone layer, but man-made chemicals play an important role in ozone creation?

    Obviously there's probably some sort of something or other going on here.
    • It's easy, really... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jellisky (211018) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:12PM (#10497711) Journal
      Notice that NO2 leads to the production of ozone in the TROPOSPHERE.

      The ozone layer is in the stratosphere.

      Ozone in the troposphere is not all that great, since it causes a lot of problems in respiration. Ozone in the stratosphere is good since it cannot be inhaled (too far away from us) and keeps that UV radiation from hurting us.

      With ozone, it's all about where it is.

      -Jellisky
  • I know some folks who teach courses on air pollution. Just wondering if anyone knew where I could get higher quality versions of those nitrogen pollution maps. Since the course has been taught for 10 years, I'm sure the images they're using are out of date.
  • by theMerovingian (722983) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:11PM (#10497705) Journal

    This looks like a relatively professional study: the maps on the website are a composite of 18 months worth of data. This is good methodology to ensure that anomalies are removed (unusual smog days, lightnings storms, etc).

    This map is a measure of the vertical density of NO2 in a given column (represented by the area of each pixel on the original image, which is dependant on the camera).

    One misleading thing: There is no mention of the climatological effects of the world's mountain ranges, and thus the prevailing winds. This is clearly illustrated along the Himilayas in India and the Andes mountains in South America. The topography is clearly causing bottlenecks in the distribution and dispersion of air. Thus, the map is not necessarily an indicator of where the actual pollution was produced. Naturally, in locations where airflow is reduced, the vertical profile of ANY gas concentration will be higher.

    I'd predict you'll even see some similar patterns in global precipitation maps if you were to overlay the two.

    (disclaimer: yes I am a prefessional geographer)

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:15PM (#10497736) Homepage Journal
    Nitrogen dioxide should be harvested and converted to very very useful Nitrous Oxide, which is very very very hahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    jahahhahahaaaaaaaaaduuude it's funny :)
  • by antdude (79039) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:41PM (#10497970) Homepage Journal
    See Yahoo!'s News images I saw yesterday:

    #1 [yahoo.com], #2 [yahoo.com], and #3 [yahoo.com].
  • by pertinax18 (569045) on Monday October 11, 2004 @06:58PM (#10498143) Homepage
    Eastern Russia is definitely not the problem. If the article poster had any sense of geography, he would have noted that the "red blob" is over China, specifically Beijing, Harbin, Xian and other immense northern Chinese industrial cities.
  • by phamNewan (689644) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:46PM (#10498603) Journal
    The most intersting thing of note is the concentration scale -1 to 6. Nothing on the units. Without the units that picture means exactly zero. Those units could be ppb (parts per billion), or ppm(per million). Almost any cool picture of pollution can be generated to show these results if the scale is small enough.

    So while the study produced an interesting picture that shows something, maybe, by not scaling it properly, the entire thing useless.

    NO2 by the way only means that nitrogen and oxygen were mixed at high temperature. Cars are the most common source of NO2 pollution. Industrial pollution is much better measured by different chemicals.
  • by Kell_pt (789485) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:26PM (#10498966) Homepage
    I'm always surprised at how people manage to interpret things the way they want, despite obvious proof on the contrary.

    First, I don't see how anyone can look at that map and claim Europe has more pollution than the US. C'mon, are you... visually deaf? Use a ruler if it needs be, but please take a close look. I understand that the 1st map being zoomed in can play a role in there, but please, just put it in perspective. The blob just above Italy is about 1/6 size of the one above the US, while the other large blob in Europe is about 1/5th that of the north american one. I mean... c'mon... :)

    Second, bear in mind that NO2 is by far not the only polluting agent that human activity sends into the atmosphere - and it's not the only one that is nocious. It does cause O3 to build up, which would be a good thing in the upper layers of the atmosphere but deadly and poisonous at human-reachable levels (ever noticed there are pool-cleaning systems that use O3 (ozone) instead of clorum? ;)

    I urge the 1st poster to really go and revisit that link and read the whole article, and actually examine the map in comparable zoom factors. And yes, that's China and not Russia, like another not-so-geographically-challenged reader pointed out. :)

    I did like that comment about industry from more advanced countries fleeing to China where regulations are not as harsh - food for thought. I suppose it's ok if we go and poison other countries to protect our way of life. :) Perfectly sound reasoning. *grin*

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