Tag Archives: Pollution

The 1970s: From Rotting Carcasses Floating in the River to Kayak Races, by Charles Hugh Smith

It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you’re living in a garbage dump. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

If we don’t bother measuring national well-being, the health of the nation’s commons and resources and advances in the public’s interests, then we foolishly call a decade of tremendous advancement “stagflation.”

Correspondent J.D. read The Forgotten History of the 1970s and kindly added a graphic example of the remarkable transformation wrought by the federal Clean Water Act and other environmental regulations mandating the clean-up of the nation’s air and other public “commons”–the nation’s biosphere and resources that we all share as an essential part of the common good and the public trust.

The point of my previous post was to explain that measuring the economy by narrow measures of “growth” and “profits” grossly distorts what’s actually happening and what’s actually valuable–and despite economists’ delusional obsession with “growth” and “profits,” it isn’t “growth” or “profits.”

What’s actually valuable are advances in national well-being and security and the common good. These may be advanced by “growth” and “profits,” but they can also be diminished by “growth” and “profits.”

As Adam Smith took great pains to explain, open-market Capitalism can only function within a moral and ethical social structure. Stripped of moral constraints, “growth” and “profits” become fatal cancers in the economy and society. In and of themselves, “growth” and “profits” have no moral or ethical center; if those benefiting from “growth” and “profits” destroy the public commons and diminish the common good, those costs are ignored.

That’s the problem with proclaiming “markets solve all problems.” They don’t; in fact, left to their no-moral-compass ways, they create horrendous problems for the many subjected to the profiteering of the few, problems that destroy public “commons,” the common good and the public trust.

What better way to foster “growth” and boost “profits” than dump offal and carcasses in the public’s rivers, rather than bear the costs of proper disposal? This is one manifestation of The Tragedy of the Commons, a concept clarified by Garrett Hardin in his seminal 1968 essay of the same name: if a for-profit private enterprise can offload costs of its own production onto the public, that cost savings enables faster growth and higher profits.

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The Forgotten History of the 1970s, by Charles Hugh Smith

A classic economic question is the problem of externalities: my factory pollutes everybody’s air. I reap the reward from the factory, a lot of people pay a penalty in excess of any benefit they might receive from my factory. Charles Hugh Smith chronicles an instance where government stepped in and the overall benefits far exceeded the costs. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

We need a new iteration of economics that advances beyond the obsolete, misleading statistical measurements of bygone eras.

Let’s focus on a largely forgotten history, one within living memory of everyone born in the 1950s, a history of signal importance to our understanding of the forces that will dominate the next decade.

The 1970s in mainstream history is: exaggerated fashions, disco, Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War, the gas crisis, the presidency of Jimmy Carter and stagflation.

Stagflation–inflation plus stagnant growth–is once again in the news, and there are numerous articles comparing the present to the 1970s.

What’s astonishing is none of these comparisons (at least those I’ve seen) even mention the most economically consequential dynamic of the 1970s: the institutionalization of environmental standards that forced the clean-up of America’s pervasive industrial pollution and the re-engineering of the industrial base.

In today’s money, cleaning up the sources of air, water and soil pollution cost trillions of dollars, an investment that didn’t generate profits or productivity as measured in financial terms.

The eventual gains were enormous, but our conventional financial measures of growth–profits and productivity–do not measure improvements in air and water quality or advances in public health due to the sharp reduction in pollution.

Well-being isn’t measured, so it isn’t recognized.

These costs were not fully accounted or properly attributed to reversing decades of industrial pollution and rebuilding America’s aging, obsolete, inefficient, highly polluting industrial base.

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Communist China: World’s Biggest Climate Polluter Keeps Polluting, by Judith Bergman

Unlike every other signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, China doesn’t have to reduce its emissions by 2030, it’s allowed to increase them. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.com:

  • If China were serious about reducing emissions, that intent would have been evident from its new five-year plan for the years 2021-2025, released in March. This plan, however, has been described as containing “little more than vague commitments to tackle carbon dioxide emissions.”
  • As the Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial in February, initiatives like this explain why “Beijing loves Biden and Paris”. They allow China, in the words of the editorial, to get “a free carbon ride” — meaning unfettered economic growth at a time when China is looking to become the world’s dominant economic and technological power.
  • How much will fulfilling President Biden’s climate accord pledges actually cost and for what actual benefit to whom, and how much of a further edge will it actually give to China?
  • At a time when China is so obviously saying one thing and doing another, and clearly not fulfilling its share of the world’s commitments to reducing CO2 emissions — as the world’s second-largest economy should — increasing America’s climate pledges sends all the wrong signals. What China and others see is that no matter what it does — even if it deceives the world and continues its predatory behavior — the US is willing to reduce its own competitiveness, leaving China a thick red carpet to become the world’s dominant superpower, the very role to which it aspires.
Communist China, in 2020, built over three times as much new coal power capacity as all other countries in the world combined — the equivalent of more than one large coal plant per week, according to a report by Global Energy Monitor. Pictured: A state-owned coal-fired power plant in Huainan, Anhui province, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Communist China, in 2020, built over three times as much new coal power capacity as all other countries in the world combined — the equivalent of more than one large coal plant per week, according to a report released in April by Global Energy Monitor.

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Want To Save The Environment? De-Fund The Pentagon. By Caitlin Johnstone

The Pentagon is the world’s biggest polluter, and that’s even before you have to clean up all those dead bodies it leaves in its wake. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

Millions of people are uniting in demonstrations worldwide against our civilization’s ecocidal march toward extinction, which makes me so happy to see. It’s really encouraging to see so many young people burning with love for their planet and a hunger to reverse the damage that has been done to our ecosystem by the refusal of previous generations to turn away from our path of devastation. This must continue if we are to survive as a species.

The challenge now is the same perennial challenge which comes up every single time there is a massive and enthusiastic push from the public in a direction that is healthy: such movements always, without exception, become targeted for manipulation by establishment interests. I write all the time about how this has happened with the intrinsically healthy impulse of feminism; I just finished watching an MSNBC punditproclaim that anyone who still supports Bernie Sanders over Elizabeth Warren is a sexist. This corralling of healthy energy into the advancement of corrupt establishment interests happens with feminism, it happens with the healthy fight against racism and antisemitism, and of course it happens with environmentalism.

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Climate Change Alarmists Routinely Ignore Chinese Flouting Of Paris Accords, by Duane Norman

The Paris Climate Accord out of which Trump pulled the US is virtually meaningless as China continues to disregard it. From Duane Norman at fmshooter.com:

Unfortunately the “Green New Deal” continues to stay in the news.  When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forced the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, Utah Senator Mike Lee used his 13 minutes on the Senate floor to spend more time discussing Reagan on a Velociraptor and Star Wars Tauntauns than making a coherent policy argument against the bill’s outlined policy.

Afterwards, AOC got all upset and issued her own “people are dying” whining tirade, blaming everyone (but herself) for all the CO2 she claims is causing any extreme weather in America.  This all occurred, of course, right before the Senate voted on the deal, with the final tally going 57-0, with 43 Democrats (including Bernie Sanders) voting “present” instead putting themselves on record on where they stood on the GND initiative.

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The Cost of China’s Industrialization: 700 Million People with Diabesity /Cancer /Lung Disease and 225 Million with Mental Disorders, by Charles Hugh Smith

China is a wonderful place to live as long as you don’t eat, drink, breathe, or get sick. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

That the China Story is going to implode is already baked into the public health catastrophe that will unfold with a vengeance in the coming decade.

The financial pundits gushing over “The China Story”–that the Middle Kingdom’s industrialization is a permanent boon to the global economy and China’s poor–never calculate the human cost of that runaway industrialization and the vast inequalities it has unleashed.

The human cost is staggering: at least half the population is suffering from chronic lifestyle/environmental-related illnesses and 225 million suffer from mental disorders. For context, the population of China is estimated to be 1.39 billion, roughly 4.4 times the U.S. population of 317 million, and about 20% of the total global population.
Here are some estimates of China’s public health problems: (source links below)

Half the population is estimated to be prediabetic (suffering from metabolic syndrome/diabesity).

12% of the populace now has diabetes, roughly 115 million people.

— An estimated 70% of China’s diabetics are undiagnosed; only 25% are receiving any treatment and of the 25%, the disease is only being controlled in 40% of those getting treatment.

Noncommunicable diseases–cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer, account for 85% of total deaths in China today — much higher than the global average of 60%.

— Mental disorders rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 and 2008. An estimated 17.5% of the population (225 million) suffers from some form of mental problem, one of the highest rates in the world.

— More than 300 million people in China — roughly equivalent to the entire U.S. population of 317 million — smoke tobacco.

— 200 million workers are directly exposed to occupational hazards.

Informal estimates suggest a large percentage of the urban population suffers from lung/pulmonary diseases. Over the last 30 years, deaths ascribed to lung cancer have risen by a factor of five in China.

— 160 million Chinese adults have hypertension (high blood pressure).

— In 2006, 80 percent of China’s health budget was spent on just 8.5 million government officials.

— Tthe rate of health-care coverage is high, but the level of benefits is still very low. 836 million rural residents who were officially covered by the government’s plan still had to pay the lion’s share of their medical bills. The government coverage paid a mere 8.6% of rural residents’ total healthcare expenditures.


To continue reading, and for links on Chinese statistics: The Costs of China’s Industrialization