The above picture is a satellite photo from NASA and this is the caption:
This SeaWiFS image of eastern China shows the widespread nature of the pollution problem. Beijing has completely disappeared under the haze.The gray haze stands in stark contrast with the relatively normal white clouds. This picture should make it obvious that pollution is a massive problem in China. But just how much of a problem is it? Well the Financial Times is reporting that the World Bank cut out nearly a third of their "report on pollution in China because of concerns that findings on premature deaths could provoke “social unrest”."
Missing from this report are the research project’s findings that high air-pollution levels in Chinese cities is leading to the premature deaths of 350,000-400,000 people each year. A further 300,000 people die prematurely each year from exposure to poor air indoors, according to advisers, but little discussion of this issue survived in the report because it was outside the ambit of the Chinese ministries which sponsored the research.These stats mean that China suffers 62,500 pollution related deaths per month. At this rate China is recreating the Holocaust every 8 years. A while back the BBC reported that Tehran has had as much as 3,600 air pollution related deaths in a single month. By comparison 9/11 cost 2,994 deaths and a $440+ billion war was started. If we use USA retaliatory accounting China and Tehran should spend $9.7 trillion each month in a war on pollution. As a side not one of the benefits of a "war on pollution" is that, if successful, we will become completely independent of foreign oil. That in itself is a major victory in the separate but related "war on terror". Although pollution kills a lot more people than the war on terror has a war on pollution would be a lot cheaper than a war on terror. Nobel laureate Richard Smalley advocates a nickel and dime solution:
Another 60,000-odd premature deaths were attributable to poor-quality water, largely in the countryside, from severe diarrhoea, and stomach, liver and bladder cancers.
adding 5 cents to the price of each gallon of petrofuel would provide $10 billion annually that could fund energy education and research. After five years, this surcharge could be doubled. "At worst, you will get a new generation of scientists and engineers and a cornucopia of new technologies," Smalley said. "At best, you solve the energy problem."$10 billion over 12 months is 0.83 billion per month. Comparing that to our $9.7 trillion figure a war on pollution would cost 1/11,686th the amount that the war on terror does per each individual death. For those of you who are skeptical by these death counts feel free to divide them by 11,686 and we will still have more than enough cause to pursue a war on pollution. Obviously there are other things to consider but this should give a good general feel of how much cheaper than the war on terror a war on pollution would be. Although I don't have any statistics on how many deaths are caused in the US due to pollution we do know that 150,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer. All this and we haven't even begun to discuss global warming. These calculations are based off of what is merely what is happening right now and we are ignoring future sea level rise, hurricane increase, ocean acidification, etc. Just something to chew on.
Now for some smoggy pictures of LA!
Can you see the sky scrapers?
FT.com, 750,000 a year killed by Chinese pollution, Richard McGregor, July 2 2007 22:03
Oncology Channel, Lung Cancer
Logicalscience.com, Smog in Tehran: 9/11 in a Month, Thursday, January 11, 2007
World Bank, COST OF POLLUTION IN CHINA ECONOMIC ESTIMATES OF PHYSICAL DAMAGES
Chemistry.org, Energy: the 50-Year Plan, Nancy_McGuire
PBS, Interview: Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Richard Smalley, October 20, 2003
NASA, Eastern China Pollution, Visualization Date