There are so many arguments where it is apparent that much of the ecology demands are in direct conflict of interest with the state of the economy. Of course it does not need to be this way or even an actual issue for the Western and post-industrial world. Technological advancements have even led to coal powered plants in the advanced world putting out next to nothing in emissions into the atmosphere compared to those same plants forty or fifty years ago. We can excuse many of the youthful ecology warriors as they did not live when smog was an actual problem and those days where one really needed that gas mask they are so anxious to claim will be necessary at today’s standards. There were days where visibility in Los Angeles was limited to half a block and days when a temperature inversion turned Denver, Colorado into a city under an orange bowl of trapped air. There were any numbers of times when the Cuyahoga River actually caught fire and Lake Erie could not support fish. All of these were the real ecological tragedies of the past and where we are today carries no measure of comparison. The air and water quality today is a taste of what we considered would be heaven on earth back in the fifties, sixties, seventies and early eighties though much had been gained by the mid-eighties. One cannot imagine what it was like in those rough and tumble days when the ecology movement started and great and close to unbelievable gains have been accomplished.
What was it like back in those dirty and horrific days, you ask. Well, allow us to try and explain. Air quality was very much like Beijing, Karachi or New Delhi and rivers were close to the conditions of the Ganges, Yellow and Buriganga Rivers (see images below). The greatest ecological problems facing humankind today are not the cities and rivers in much of the United States or Europe as much as they are in the developing world, particularly China, India and other nations almost always exempted from United Nations and other ecological requirements. Giving the worst polluting nations a pass on meeting standards and instead demonizing and requiring ever more difficult and approaching impossible standards of the advanced nations is ignoring the real problems that are damaging health and the state of the world. The United States and Europe could cut their air and water pollution by fifty percent or even seventy-five percent and it would not come close to improving world air and water quality as it would require the developing world to improve their air and water quality by a mere five to ten percent. Cleaning up the air and water in the developing world, especially the rising industrial nations like China and India could make huge strides. It is not as if what is being asked is all that impossible or even difficult to achieve as the science and industrial know-how already exist and much of it is off the shelf and install and you are good to go. If the financial burden was demanded almost exclusively from the developed world it would be an investment which would indirectly and directly affect the quality of life in the post-industrial world as the air and water of these developing nations does have an influence on the air and water quality worldwide. If the cost of installing and manufacturing the necessary pollution control systems for many of the industries which have been shifted from the developed world to the developing world, in some cases simply to avoid the ever more stringent pollution demands and requirements which the post-industrial world had challenged their industries to meet, there could readily be made improvements leading to decreasing pollution in these parts of the world easily attaining halving their pollution which would be a giant stride and would exceed any possible reductions quantitatively than anything possible in the rest of the advanced world. As stated, the required technology already exists and would simply require production and installation which in many cases would simply be an add-on system to already existing power plants and industrial facilities. One example would be the carbon scrubbers for coal fired electrical generation facilities which could cut CO2 easily by fifty percent and the costs would not be exorbitant making such one easy place to begin. Water filtration systems placed between factories and rivers could make a huge difference and finally using more advanced systems and procedures for handling recycling and sorting of trash could not only benefit air and water quality but also lead to reduced costs on the society into the future with the gains in health being just one benefit which should be an aim for all humankind.
The problem is one of numbers which is easily explained. Any pollution standards have thus far been coming from the United Nations and related NGOs and other agencies. Many of these have their leadership and decision making committees predominantly made up from the member nations. The United Nations lists the developed (post-industrial) nations as being North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. They list the developing nations as Africa, Central and South Americas plus Mexico, Caribbean, Asia (excluding Japan), Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand. Of the nearly two-hundred nations in the United Nations there are approximately one-hundred-forty developing nations with only fifty-five post-industrial nations. It does not require a degree in higher mathematics to understand why almost all pollution requirements are placed on the fifty-five post-industrial nations while the one-hundred-forty developing nations are excluded from any and all pollution reduction or restrictive requirements. Until the developing world takes responsibility for the health and safety of their own citizens, this lopsided insanity of improving air quality and reducing water pollution in the post-industrial world manages to improve the measureable levels of pollution in the world by, at an estimated best case scenario, a mere five percent at the most generous of measurements, the most rudimentary and basic pollution controls put into use by the developing world would drop world pollution levels at near the exact same percentage as these nations would improve their air and water quality.
Let us assume the developing world installed the most rudimentary pollution controls equivalent to those installed by 1980 in the post-industrial world, with financial and production assistance from the post-industrial nations where the only investment these developing nations would provide was the manpower to install these devices and assure their working order, the world pollution levels would be reduced by approaching, if not exceeding, fifty percent. That is correct what you read, cut pollution worldwide in half or better. Imagine what a relief on the planet and that ever over-blown strawman of climate change. If the propaganda which claims that cutting pollution by fifty percent could save the planet, and then demand that the post-industrial world meet that challenge when their total pollution consists of less than ten percent of world pollution makes it impossible to clean the planet while granting the nations with the highest pollution contributions a complete pass, it makes no sense. If the United Nations Climate Control Agencies really want to protect the planet and truly reduce pollution levels, they will need to swallow hard and demand some accountability by those very same nations who exempt themselves despite contributing over ninety percent of the problem. It is not that they do not realize their double standard cheating makes cutting pollution impossible as they are adding to world pollution at many times the entire production of pollution in the post-industrial world’s yearly output monthly. Let us repeat that for clarity. The developing world’s monthly increase of pollution outweighs the entire pollution of the post-industrial world for the whole year. That is comparing increases against total output, a concept which is hard to get one’s arms around. Should the developing world simply hold the line on their levels of pollution, it would do over ten times the saving than if the post-industrial world somehow curtailed their entire pollution yearly output. That puts the entire problem into an easy context. Does the world think it could demand that the developing world at least improve the systems they are installing daily and have their pollution output reduced by a marginal amount which could do so much without even touching their precious systems already in place? Do you think you could be capable of doing that, please?
There has been a series of Olympics in recent years held in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012, and the current Olympics in Rio de Janeiro; all summer games where air and water quality and safety of athletes and tourists is more challenging as people will be outside in and around the Olympic Park making security a definite challenge. Air quality and especially water quality were particularly poor in both Rio de Janeiro and Beijing. In the Beijing Olympics China found it necessary to actually suspend all manufacturing and limited electricity usage for two weeks before the games and still the air quality, though better than normal for the city, left something to be desired. London, was a city with a history in the early days of the industrial revolution for having no direct sunlight hitting the streets and windows tinted with coal dust and smoke permeating into homes and stores interfering with every activity and worsening the health of all within its metropolitan area. The modern day London is literally a walk in the park with clear skies, clean water and no foul aromas as in London’s past. London could be used as a model for places such as Beijing and Rio de Janeiro as well as the rest of the emerging world. The modern nations could encourage such a cleaning up of the air and water of these emerging cities by providing even previously used and now retired scrubbers, reverse osmosis units and other technologies demanding only that the receiving country provide workers to install and trained in managing and upkeep and the entire world would benefit. Unfortunately there are too many who make their living complaining and this would place many of the ecology fanatics out of work and having to find something constructive to make their living; though we are sure they could find a new cause to make their living complaining and never lifting a finger to remedy the situation.
Beyond the Cusp