more on smog

Previously, sections of the Municipality had reported dangerous levels of carbon diaoxide, but on April 15, 2013 and for the first time in its history, Shenzhen recorded dangerous levels of air pollution in every part of the city.

Shenzhen is not alone in its unhealthy rush to a narrowly defined standard of wealth. Indeed, concern in Shenzhen follows upon the outrageous levels of pollution that were reported in Beijing. But as David Roberts reminds us, this level of pollution is just one example of a worldwide trend:

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program asked environmental consultancy, Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.) …The biggest single environmental cost? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in China. The fifth biggest? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in North America.

Moreover, our respective industrial sectors thrive on coal:

unep-top-five-industrial-sectors-by-environmental-impactsjpg

I feel like I parrot myself at every opportunity: the United States and China are the same country. Really. The similarities are of kind, while our differences are merely of scale. And so the question remains: how do we fix shared problems, rather than getting settling for the politics of blame?

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