Consumer Capitalism's Karma - China's Air Pollution is Coming Back to the Americas as the World Turns

This map shows the flow of black carbon pollution from China to the Americas.

According to the latest study the emissions from China’s export industries are carried across the Pacific Ocean and contribute to air pollution in the Western United States [and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America] according to a paper published Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].

The picture above from Weather.com is worth a million words, obviously our consumer culture's pollution footprint, unlike fun in Vegas, doesn't stay in China. Truth is it's our consumer culture's Karma that's 'Blowing Back to Haunt Us'.

In the last few years we've done our best ostrich impression while ignoring the disastrous images of chunky air in northern China, especially around Bejing. This despite many other reports including those about how the Southern Chinese, on average, have lived at least five years longer than their northern counterparts in recent decades because of the destructive health effects of pollution from the widespread use of coal in the north.

Globally consumers do the 'ostrich' everyday, but none are more arrogant about their exceptionalism [the Canadians being a close second] than the American consumer culture. Maybe this time it'll be different, maybe consumers everywhere will have an epiphany and realize that we all breathe the same air and that the only solution to pollution is to stop consuming needless crap - conservation.

"Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combating drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction." - Jorge Majfud. It's important to notice that Majfud referred to the broader issue of "environmental pollution" not just to climate change. Please check out this list of just some of the tragedies being caused by our over-consumption of needless crap and a few details about each.

What goes around, comes around we used to say in hippier days. Another 'fact' that the ostriches refuse to acknowledge is that there are no green alternatives to fossil fuels only Green Illusions. When these truths are added to the fact the demand drives every market exchange with supply simply rising and falling to meet it, it becomes obvious why the ostrich approach is mandatory for cancer like capitalism to keep growing.

As Adam Brandt, an energy expert at Stanford University, pointed out recently, "So long as the demand is there, energy producers are going to search for new supplies of fossil fuel — many of them using unconventional means like tar sands extraction. “With growing global demand, the economic pressure to develop unconventional resources is enormous and not going away,” he said. “Can environmental groups expect to win a series of fights for decades to come, when the economic forces are aligned very strongly against them in each round?” The answer is obvious: no. The emphasis should be on demand, not supply."