Smog = Storms, Mutants, Suicides, & Premature Deaths
|April 18, 2014||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Environmental, Health|
These four excerpts of 2014 articles about smog are from: (1) Bloomberg News, Mar 19; (2) Common Dreams, Mar 25, by Andrea Germanos; (3) Pacific Standard, Apr 11, by John Upton; and (4) The Guardian, Apr 15, by Jonathan Kaiman.
Air Pollution May Cause Genetic Harm in Kids
Air pollution led to genetic changes that may have sapped learning skills in children whose mothers were exposed to a Chinese coal-fired power plant before it was shuttered a decade ago.
Babies born in the southwestern Tongliang county just before the plant was shut in 2004 had significantly lower levels of a protein crucial to brain development in their cord blood than those conceived later. They also had poorer learning and memory skills when tested at age two.
Air Pollution = Biggest Environmental Health Risk
Air pollution is the world’s largest single environmental health risk, the World Health Organization said.
According to the body’s just released estimates, seven million people died in 2012 as a result of air pollution. That amounts to one in 8 deaths worldwide.
Because the indoor air pollution is often the result of smoke and soot from cooking stoves, women and children pay a particular heavy price.
Is Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Suicide?
Four years ago, Asian researchers reported links between air pollution and suicide rates in South Korea; and between air pollution, asthma, and suicides in Taiwan. Now, University of Utah scientists say they have uncovered similar links in pollution-prone Salt Lake County.
Suicide can be difficult to talk about, but it’s America’s 10th leading cause of death. It’s the eighth-leading cause in Utah, home to some of the nation’s smoggiest cities. Earlier this year, the pollution problem prompted a 5,000-person protest outside the state’s capitol building.
Bakian and her colleagues found that the odds of committing suicide in the county spiked 20 percent following three days of high nitrogen dioxide pollution—which is produced when fossil fuels are burned and after fertilizer is applied to fields.
China’s Air Pollution Leading to More Erratic Climate for US
China’s air pollution could be intensifying storms over the Pacific Ocean and altering weather patterns in North America leading to more warm air in the mid-Pacific moving towards the north pole. Mid-latitude storms develop off Asia and they track across the Pacific, coming in to the west coast of the US. Their particles are affecting how strong those storms are, how dense the clouds are, and how much rainfall comes out of those storms.
Fossil fuel burning and petrochemical processing in Asia’s rapidly developing economies lead to a build-up of aerosols, fine particles suspended in the air. Typically, aerosol formation is thought of as the antithesis to global warming: it cools our Earth’s climate. But aerosols provide seeds for cloud formation. If you provide too many seeds, then you fundamentally change cloud patterns and storm patterns.
China’s leaders will soon revise China’s environmental protection law for the first time since 1989 and require key polluters to disclose real-time pollution data.
Ed. Notes: The reason you breathe deadly air is not because clean technology has not yet been invented. The reason is fair policies have not yet been implemented. Polluters usually are important people with money and so enjoy leniency from governments, much more so than anyone who might get caught littering in public.
What governments should do instead is, of course, stop subsidizing polluters and, conversely, charge them for their pollution. Plus, not offer them free or low-cost limited liability but make them pay private insurance companies the full market rate for shielding their CEOs and management from deciding to pollute others.
Government could also facilitate the development and conversion to clean alternative engines and power plants by not taxing wages and investments. Without having to pay such taxes, companies could more easily hire workers to do the conversion work and savers could more profitably invest in new technologies.
Government could also recover the socially-generated value of land and resources. Doing that would make fossil fuels like oil less remunerative. And it cities, owners would use sites more efficiently resulting in compact cities with buildings side-by-side and taller and shorter trip distances, resulting in less energy consumption and pollution.
Finally, government should pay the “rents” from owners of locations and resources out as dividends to citizens. The extra income would liberate basement inventors and the pace of change would take off. Hopefully, the dire straights of our atmosphere will impel people to adopt these geonomic policies.