China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, August 03, 2006

US accuses China for its own air pollution

People`s Daily online
UPDATED: 13:35, August 02, 2006

Western countries especially the US media have always had some special favor to the topics on China and also frequently related any of these topics to the "China threat" theory whenever they can.

From July 28, a series of report have been rapidly circulated and followed up by the US media. The source for these reports is the same: an article entitled "China's growing pollution reaches U.S." published by Associated Press.

According to Associated Press, "China's pollution also regularly dirties the air in neighboring South Korea and Japan, but until recently researchers didn't think it had much effect on North America."

US media quoted the "evidence" from researchers. According to Steven Cliff, researcher for the air monitoring station of Mout Tamalpais State Park, California, the tiny, airborne particles Cliff gathers at an air monitoring station just north of San Francisco drifted over the ocean from coal-fired power plants, smelters, dust storms and diesel trucks in China and other Asian countries. Cliff has monitoring stations on Mount Tamalpais, Donner Summit near Lake Tahoe, and Mount Lassen in far Northern California. Those sites see little pollution from local sources, and the composition of the dust particles matches that of the Gobi Desert and other Asian sites, Cliff said.

About a third of the Asian pollution is dust, which is increasing due to drought and deforestation, Cliff said. The rest is composed of sulfur, soot and trace metals from the burning of coal, diesel and other fossil fuels.

US media has expressed their "concerns" by quoting researchers' words. Most air pollution in U.S. cities is generated locally, but that could change if citizens in China, India and other developing nations adopt American-style consumption patterns, said the article. If people there started driving cars and using electricity at the rate in the developed world, the amount of pollution will increase many, many times. They worry that as China consumes more fossil fuels to feed its energy-hungry economy, the U.S. could see a sharp increase in trans-Pacific pollution that could affect human health, worsen air quality and alter climate patterns. "We're going to see increased particulate pollution from the expansion of China for the foreseeable future", said Cliff.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even made an astonishing estimation: "on certain days nearly 25 percent of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China."

How did the air pollutants reach the US from China? American researchers explained that US scientists have recently found that Asian pollution is consistently transported across the Pacific on air currents. It can take anywhere from five days to two weeks for particles to cross the ocean.

However, some experts also pointed out that China and Los Angeles are nearly thousands of miles away from each other. How could these researchers identify that the so-called air pollutants are from Asian? In particular, they not only determined that the pollutants were from China but also "precisely" detected that 25% of them were from China. Its credibility is questionable.

Right after the Associated Press published the article, "Washington Post", "Houston Chronicle", "Los Angeles Daily News", ABC, and other media swarmed into the follow-up reports. Many reports established solid contacts with China's rise and economic development. Articles such as "China's exports cover all the necessities of American people" have even diverged from any professional issues which should aim to explore the nature of specialized topic. Its purpose is thought-provoking.

But the article published by the Associated Press admits before closing that China is taking action to reduce its energy use and air pollution. "There are tremendous opportunities for China to slow the amount of pollution it pumps in the air".


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