Friday, December 21, 2007

Chinese Air Pollution Raises Huge Questions, Contradictions

The New York Times long series on China's booming economy and its impact on the world's air, water, and natural resources adds another fascinating chapter in what will surely be an award-winning 2007 effort.

Today's Times' installment here traces the outsourcing of entire industries from former manufacturing centers in the German Ruhr Valley to China, removing jobs and wealth from Europe - - but also the pollution that once made for dirty air, too.

So German citizens have cleaner air, and are leading the fight for global warming and climate change solutions, while buying imported goods being produced in now heavily-polluted China.

And these trends are going to accelerate, even as China makes some strides towards environmental protection, because China will soon be churning out mass-produced automobiles for both the domestic and international market, and because other countries, like India, are going through similar industrial revolutions.

Pretty heady and complex stuff. And not easily resolvable, but resolving to buy compact fluorescent bulbs as stocking-stuffers means you can make your own small contribution going forward.

It has been estimated that each compact fluorescent bulb, over its lifetime, requires so little electricity generation that it keeps 1,000 pounds of cardon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Another website estimates that over the life of one typical compact fluorescent, a consumer saves more than $80, though obviously the bulb's cost and varying electric rates influence total savings.

More information about these bulbs, is here, though a Google search on the subject will produce long lists of similar sites.

There are 300 million of us in this country, so scores of millions of consumers making smart, painless choices can add up.

The alternative is somewhere between hopelessness - - "Nothing I can do will make a difference," to misplaced optimism - - "Everything will be OK: the planet will take care of itself."

Making small personal choices is a reasonable alternative, especially since many environmentally-friendly actions also save money.

What's not to like?

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