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China Earth Stats United States Science

China To Begin Submitting Air Pollution Reports 176

Posted by timothy
from the everything-counts-in-large-amounts dept.
smitty777 writes "China will start to publish air pollution reports, possibly in response to reports from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing which has been publishing its own data. This report is significant in that it's based on the PM2.5 standard, which measures the more harmful particles that are less than 2.5 microns. This comes on the heels of a separate report that lists China as the worst polluter worldwide. According to this report, China now produces 6,832 m tons of CO2, a 754% increase since 1971. While the U.S. is in second at 5,195 m, this represents an increase of only 21%. This article notes 'the rapid growth in emissions for China, India, and Africa. This will continue as their middle classes buy houses and vehicles. The growth in Middle East emissions is staggering, a reflection of their growing oil fortunes.' While we're on the subject of India, their pollution levels are thought to be responsible for a dense cloud of fog that is so thick it created a cold front, and is repsonsible for a number of deaths."
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China To Begin Submitting Air Pollution Reports

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  • Meanwhile... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vought (160908) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:05PM (#38626724)

    Half the US population will pretend that scientific consensus does not exist as they drive automobiles created with the fruits of science, the Chinese will fudge their numbers, and nothing will change.

  • by nzac (1822298) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:18PM (#38626764)

    These stories are another way to block CO2 reduction. Provide some statistics that make it look like China is main polluter and therefore they need to change before the US should.

    I think the fairest way to measure this is CO2 per person (possibly with allowances made for cold countries). As each person has a requirement for energy for personal and economic use, that will require CO2 to be produced. Saying China should not be allowed to burn the same amount of CO2 per person as the US for cheep power and petrol will not go anywhere, the US is still the problem.

  • Zzz (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XiaoMing (1574363) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:27PM (#38626796)

    I guess it shouldn't be surprising anymore that the concept of "per capita" is once again completely omitted to make a headline rather than a point?
    7000 MTon vs 5000 MTon... hmm doesn't sound impressive enough, let's try 754% vs 21%!! Oh my god!

    How about 5.4 Ton/person (China) vs. 16.7 Ton/person (U.S.)?
    Or better yet, how about 90+% of U.S. consumer needs being shifted to China?

    Not only is China already more efficient in what it does for the CO2 it's producing compared to the U.S., it's supplying the rest of the world too. What's the complaint here?

  • by SalsaDoom (14830) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:27PM (#38626800) Journal

    This is a funny numbers game. CO2 is far from the worst greenhouse gas, so all these people posting their reactions about Americans and their big suv's, cars whatever, need to look more closely at which gases cause the most greenhouse effects, and where these gases come from.

    You can fit me into the "greenhouse deniers" if you like, but I'm suspicious of pretty much all the data that is surrounding this issue -- there is too much money to be made on "popular" science like this for there to be any real hope of getting sound scientific data right now...

    I've also yet to hear anyone make a reasonable sounding proposal to make any positive changes, its always up in the air stuff like "We all need to hold hands and plant trees and drive less" -- that's absurd. Lowering pollution is a good idea whatever the effects on temperature so I'm all for this goal, but to actually get to the point of seriously damaging the economy and lives we've all come to like living isn't going to happen and shouldn't. These are scientific issues and probably have scientific solutions.

    People seem to want impossible things on this issue. Hippies are an illogical group of people who work solely in knee-jerk reactions and boogey-man scare tactics, they just complain without making much sense. Coal power bad, but nuclear is bad too! Damn, these goes our safest and best way to generate power. It all has to be hippie-power, hydro and solar. Yeah, well, if that worked then why wouldn't they use it, they can fleece us on power bills with solar or hydro just as easily as coal or nuke.

    I don't see a lot of logic and reason with this entire issue.

  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:38PM (#38626846)

    As you type this in from a computer thats electricity was probably generated by natural gas or coal. (hint those are the two largest polluters in the world). As you sit in your house with its fertilized yard with fertilizer created from oil, on your chair with foam made from oil, in the room painted with oil, typing on plastic keys created by oil.... See my point?

    It is *everywhere*. We as a society are addicted to the stuff. We use it by the metric ton.

    What is my point of this? You sit all smug in your computer chair or couch or wherever saying others should 'listen to you'. Guess what you sound like a twat who tells others what to do without realizing you yourself are part of the problem. Want to change peoples minds? Its simple, pollution sucks. People get that. "we might be changing the climate" will get you a yawn and no one will really care. But lets say 100% of everyone gets the point. What is the alternative? The current one on the table (and being implemented) is higher taxes. That helps very little and does not actually make things better. It just means those who can afford to will pollute will while you pick up the tab. As those same companies can afford it (due to many of them being regulated monopolies). And companies will just do what they always do. They will pass down the cost to the consumer. As guess what I can not buy my electricity from someone else I pay a higher price for no change. I need to get to work so I can buy food for my family (so I have a car). Without a radical remaking of our entire society nothing will change.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @10:59PM (#38626954)

    Wrong. When we talk about mitigating pollution, per capital numbers are meaningless. In the context of climate change, the potential harm is caused by the totality of greenhouse gas output. When government intervention is the only effective solution, we are forced to look at the problem and its solution as bounded by what each government is able to control. Since the Chinese government has power over the greatest amount of pollution, its participation in reduction treaties is essential, and its responsibility to the future the greatest.

    You can bring up the role of the US in the past, and its role as the top contributor to the problem, but that would be another argument altogether, and it still would not change the responsibility to act that is borne by every country that has not had year-to-year reduction.

  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Saturday January 07, 2012 @11:02PM (#38626978)

    The consensus is about the earth getting hotter, which would make sense since we're going away from an ice age, not toward one.

    That does not explain the sudden increase in temperature since the industrial revolution.

    There is no consensus about man's impact on the earth.

    I think that you will find that there is a consensus in the scientific community that global warming is affected by man. There may be variations in the estimates of how much is due to our CO2 output, but that does not mean that you should consider that the principles about climate change are wrong.

    From the article, it would appear that mankind is curbing our inevitable heat wave.

    Do you mean the cold front that appeared in one region over a short timespan? I do not think that you can extrapolate this to have any meaning for the entire planet.

  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Sunday January 08, 2012 @01:45AM (#38627600)

    (I hope that you're sincerely interested in exploring this topic because I am too and I would be very interested in credible sources suggesting that there is in fact not a consensus among scientists that anthropocentric climate change is happening. I'll answer your concerns to the best of my abilities -- I'm just a student and still learning as I go.)

    1. "Likely" means > 66% probability. I provided you a link to an excerpt of the full report (loooooong), and the same likelihood system is used throughout. See their explanation of likelihoods [www.ipcc.ch] (scroll to bottom). It is not the lowest category of confidence they have. I apologize for the lack of context; some of their FAQs [www.ipcc.ch] might provide more digestable, standalone summaries. The full report is a hard read -- I've skimmed through parts of it -- but the data and methodology is there if you care to dig deep enough.

    2. I assume the "likely" you're referring to is in regards to surface temperature rise, but that's only one part of climate change. Other changes, such as the sea level increase, are considered "very likely" due to human influences.

    3. The thing about climate change is that behavior "likely" to lead to a massive, abrupt change in our only habitat, potentially affecting millions of humans and countless more animals, is not a scenario to be taken lightly. There is ALWAYS room for error, but the best available data that we currently have suggest that we should be taking immediate corrective action. Until and unless better data appears, this seems to the best course of action. If we're later proven wrong due to some unforeseen causes, we'll have to make corrections... but that's the way science has always worked.

    4. Heat islands are an example of cherry-picked "mistakes" that disprove ACC. The alleged mistakes (some of which were mistakes, some of which weren't) I've heard about have been corrected in later papers or studies and overall, the consensus still stands: Climate change is happening, and it's partially fueled by humans.

    5. Both the wiki pages for climate change and heat islands reiterate my main point: That there is indeed a consensus among qualified scientists (as judged by their peers, mainly) that we are experiencing anthropogenic climate change.

    If you have good sources that argue against that, please provide them.

  • Re:Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caerwyn (38056) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:34AM (#38627694)

    What is my point of this? You sit all smug in your computer chair or couch or wherever saying others should 'listen to you'. Guess what you sound like a twat who tells others what to do without realizing you yourself are part of the problem. Want to change peoples minds? Its simple, pollution sucks. People get that. "we might be changing the climate" will get you a yawn and no one will really care. But lets say 100% of everyone gets the point. What is the alternative? The current one on the table (and being implemented) is higher taxes. That helps very little and does not actually make things better. It just means those who can afford to will pollute will while you pick up the tab. As those same companies can afford it (due to many of them being regulated monopolies). And companies will just do what they always do. They will pass down the cost to the consumer. As guess what I can not buy my electricity from someone else I pay a higher price for no change. I need to get to work so I can buy food for my family (so I have a car). Without a radical remaking of our entire society nothing will change.

    This is not strictly true. The point of taxes on carbon emissions is that it helps to reduce externalities- costs that party A incurs and party B must pay, without an actual economic link between them. For instance, power plants currently emit pollutants (including greenhouse gases). Those pollutants ultimately result in costs (health care cost increases, infrastructure development to deal with changing climate, environmental reclamation costs) that are not paid by the entity that reaps the benefit from incurring them - the power plant operators. By placing a tax on the polluting activities, we cause those entities to pay for the costs that they are incurring. That cost more fully reflects the actual cost of the good that they are providing- electricity produced from coal, which levels the playing field for alternative energy sources which do *not* incur such external costs. *That* is the point of such taxation- to *level* the playing field by actually making every pay for all of the costs that they incur to society.

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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