Living in China. Air Pollution and Measles.

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Many years ago my parents took the family on a car trip from Louisville to New York City. Our route took us through Pittsburgh. When we reached the outskirts of the city, the sky turned gray. Downtown it looked like it was dusk in mid-afternoon. The unusually colored air was a result of the air pollution from the many factories and steel mills in the area. My parents marveled at the prosperity that resulted from the busy economy that brought on the pollution.

A few years later I returned to Pittsburgh and the air was clear. The polluting industry had either been closed or they had installed pollution control equipment. There were many shiny new skyscrapers built downtown. The economy was rolling along splendidly, and the air was cleaner. Bad air was not necessary for the city’s prosperity.

Recently there has been an epidemic of foul air in China. There have been reports that some days the air was so thick in Beijing that flights in and out of the city were cancelled. Fortunately the air in Shenzhen seems no worse than usual.

The word smog is a combination of the words smoke and fog. In the old days the smoke came from burning coal for industry and heating homes. In less industrialized times, it was the kind of air pollution most often encountered. It eased as industry began eliminating burning coal, and with the advent of scrubbers on smoke stacks and other air cleaning devices.

In more recent years photochemical smog has been most often encountered. It is a mixture of ozone and various carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur compounds combining within the air. The chemicals are released primarily by modern industrial processes, automobiles, and many smaller sources, including natural.

Bad air has bad health effects. There have been cases where the dirty air killed people directly, like the Great Smog in London in 1952. Then some 4000 people were killed in the four days it lasted. 60 people died in a suburb of Pittsburgh in 1948 during an especially severe smog. There are all sorts of estimates about how many people develop long term respiratory and other health problems from breathing polluted air.

Most western governments have passed laws and regulations aimed at cleaning the air. While not perfect, the air is much cleaner than it was even a few years ago. Things continue to improve as environmental science and technology advances.

Pollution is a product of prosperity. It is a symptom of good economic times. There is little air pollution in primitive and backward areas of the world.

Currently China finds itself where the west was a few years ago. Its young economy is coming on strong. It is developing quickly. Coal fired power plants are being built to supply the energy needed for the economic renaissance. Cars crowd the roads as people go about their business.

As China’s economy has flowered, so has its bad air. Once viewed as an inevitable product of a brisk and growing economy, air pollution is now seen as an unnecessary burden on everyone it effects. The government is starting to enact emission controls on automobiles, and is closing some of the worst polluting factories. There are also fledgling efforts to clean the waters of China.

In many ways bad air is similar to the childhood disease of measles, or Rubella. Measles are spread from person to person by a virus. Often the high fever and respiratory problems brought on by the disease are severe, even permanently damaging. Fortunately, most people recover from the illness completely.

While sick, the body develops immune tools to fend off future attacks from the virus. People usually get measles while young. Most recover and live strong and healthy lives, immune from further bouts of the illness.

Air pollution is like measles. It has attacked the young Chinese economy. At the present time the attack is very severe, even debilitating. China is like the Pittsburgh of my childhood, prosperous but dirty.

But China is beginning to fight back, much like the human body fights the measles virus. Now it looks like pollution is winning the battle, but China continues to strengthen its regulations and enforcement efforts. Eventually it will win the battle. It will emerge from this sickness and its overall economic health will be greatly improved.

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More Dishonesty in Global Warming Reporting

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The page pictured below is from the Shenzhen Daily on December 10, 2009. 7 pictures of natural disasters are shown along with the headling “No place to live.” The only reporting was a single paragraph about the Copenhagen climate summit. There was nothing about “no place to live” in that paragraph. Nor was there anything about how global warming caused the disasters pictured. The only other commentary were short descriptive captions below the pictures.

The reporting was dishonest because it implied a connection between global warming and the disasters pictured, but failed to make the case in any way.

The top center picture shows a flood in Malaysia. The earth has always had floods. No connection to global warming is mentioned in the caption of  the picture. I have no idea why this picture appeared in the article.

The small picture at the top of the lower left column is of children playing in a polluted stream in India. How is this an effect of global warming? Did kids not play in polluted streams before global warming?

Below that is a dead fish in Brazil. Haven’t fish always died? How did global warming cause this particular fish to die? There is no explanation.

In the center is a polar bear eating a baby polar bear around Churchill, Alaska. The caption blames the cannibalism of lack of hunting area caused by global warming. Two things are wrong with this. First, the polar bear population around Churchill is out of control due to the species being on the endangered list. If there is over population it is because of a larger number of bears, not because of smaller hunting area. Second, if you Google “Polar Bear Cannibalism” you will find just as many pieces saying cannibalism is a natural part of polar bear life as those saying it is a result of  global warming.

The picture at the top of the right column is of a sand storm in Sydney. Sydney is on the edge of a desert.  There  always has been sand storms around Sydney.

The center picture is of a forest fire around Los Angeles. Did the forests not burn before global warming?

The bottom right is of smoke coming out of an industrial complex in Italy. Were there no factories before global warming?  The caption doesn’t explain.

Reporting about global warming by activist writers is disgusting and usually highly dishonest. This piece was about as bad as it gets. It combines an alarmist headline with a story that has nothing to do with the headline.  Then it adds several sensational pictures that have no relation to either.

The End Is Near

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Of course we have all heard of the coming end of the world brought on by man-made global warming. But there have been dozens of other doomsday scenarios floated around in the past few years. Some include:

The hole in the ozone layer leads to skin cancer, blindness and two-headed frogs.

Air pollution causes all sorts of health problems and leads to early deaths or careers in politics.

Over fishing is depopulating the seas, and the few fish that remain are full of mercury.

Erosion of our best farm land will make growing our food ever more difficult. And what land is not eroded away is being paved over for parking lots and suburban sprawl.

Toxic waste contaminates what land is left making much of the world’s surface unusable.

Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. If the bat-winged fruit fly can go extinct, can humans be far behind?

Microbes, germs and viruses are evolving into ever more virulent strains. The new strains laugh at our vaccines and antibiotics.

Insects and rodents are consuming our food supplies and spreading diseases. They are increasingly immune to our feeble attempts to control them.

We are running out of clean water. What water we have left is full of lead, arsenic, and 100 other cancer causing elements.

Bees are disappearing, except for killer bees, which seem to be doing quite well.

Acid rain is killing forests and all life in our fresh water supplies.

Soon all natural resources will be depleted. And unlike through the whole of history, mankind will forget how to overcome various shortages with scientific and cultural advances.

The oceans are turning acidic from the excess carbon in the air. Before long only sharks will be able to survive in the seas.

A few days ago an asteroid came out of nowhere and brushed by the earth. It is only a matter of time until one hits us.

Cancer rates are up, exercise rates are down.

The food we eat is unhealthy and is killing us. What isn’t actually poison is full of cholesterol, trans-fats, and empty calories.

Nuclear waste is so dangerous it can neither be disposed of nor stored. Soon we will all glow in the dark.

 

I came up with this list in 10 minutes of thinking. If someone did a serious study, I feel sure they could come up with 100 times more problems. My conclusion: It’s all b.s.

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