Blowing Back to Haunt Us

Abby Zimet

The OMG online buzz accompanying the photo on the front was that China's pollution is now so bad Beijing residents have to watch sunrises on giant screens in Tiananmen Square. It turns out the news from China isn't quite that bad - the screens are actually tourism ads showing ever-changing photo montages, including a sunrise - but almost: A new study shows big increases in West Coast air pollution that can be traced back to Chinese factories making all the stuff we used to make that they now make and ship to us. The report by nine scientists from three countries, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents how powerful winds called westerlies carry pollutants across the Pacific that subsequently lead to “dangerous spikes in contaminants,” including black carbon. In other words, our plastic crap is killing us all.

“This is a reminder to us that a significant percentage of China’s emissions... are connected to the products we buy and use every day in the U.S...This pollution is harming the citizens of China (and) damaging the air quality in parts of the U.S.” - Alex Wang, UCLA law professor who studies Chinese environmental policy.

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