Friday, September 14, 2007

Exporting pollution

Much is said of our exportation of jobs to China via our mass-consumption of their mass-produced goods, but one could just as well understand that we are also exporting our own pollution. China's air, water, and soil pollution practices are probably consistent with where we were over 50 years ago. If not further back.

In Linfen, for instance, the many coal plants and manufacturing interests pump a steady stream of sulfur oxide and coal dust into the air and arsenic into the water table. Linfen is a pathetic example of Business Gone Wild, but it is hardly alone. 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, according to the World Bank, are in China.

When I was a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s in the Los Angeles basin, I remember many summer days where to play outside meant getting sore lungs. If you haven't felt it, there's no describing it. I imagine that kids in Beijing, pictured below (after a rain on the left, on a sunny day to the right), know that feeling.

Thankfully it's not like that in Southern California any more, for the most part. Smog alerts, once a fixture of summer, are largely a thing of the past. And while I believe in free enterprise, somebody's got to be watching the store and thinking about something more than profit and employment statistics. Profit and jobs are good. Very good. But they are not the only things that matter in life.

1 Comments:

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Recovering said...

Even in the early 90s when I was going to school at Long Beach Poly and Marina H.S. in So. Cal., they'd frequently cancel soccer practice because of "smog alerts." I still had to walk 25 minutes home so it always kind of pissed me off. I'm glad they are cleaning it up a bit.

 

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