Chinese pollution accompanies Chinese products to U.S.

Monday, August 31, 2015

You've probably noticed some spectacular risings and settings of the sun and moon, red moons in the evening and hazy sunsets.

Dozens of fires in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana are clouding the sky over Nebraska and other Midwest states, a reminder of the Canadian fires that sent smoke our way earlier this year.

The smoke seems tailor-made to reinforce President Obama's trip to Alaska, where he formally renamed Mount McKinley as Denali, a change Alaskans have sought almost from the time it was named after President William McKinley in 1896.

Denali is the indigenous Athabascan language name for the peak.

Obama plans to hike on a melting glacier near Seward, visit a fisherman in a remote village and become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Arctic Circle in his quest to spotlight climate change.

Even after the case is made that climate change is real, the question of what to do about it remains.

Studies published early last year showed that China's air pollution is so bad that computer models show it producing a regional greenhouse gas effect, increasing overall precipitation over the Northwest Pacific by 7 percent -- if only some of that precipitation would appear now to quench the fires.

Using air pollution data from 2006 -- it's climbed significantly since then -- Chinese air pollution significantly decreased the quality of air in Western U.S. states.

In the spring especially, strong Westerlies carry Chinese pollution our way, creating between 12 and 24 percent of the sulfate-based air pollution over the Western U.S. states.

The study showed similar increases in carbon monoxide and ground-level ozone pollution in the U.S.

But America isn't completely innocent, according to the study.

An estimated 36 percent of manmade sulfur dioxide, 27 percent of nitrogen oxide, 22 percent of carbon monoxide and 17 percent of black carbon over China results from manufacturing goods for export -- about 20 percent of each associated with productes exported to the U.S. in particular.

The upshot?

If we want cleaner air, we're going to have to pay higher prices for cleaner factories -- ideally located in the United States.

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