WHO: United States Among Least Polluting Nations on the Planet
WHO: United States Among Least Polluting Nations on the Planet.
In the most recent WHO report on air pollution, the United States was listed as one of the countries with the cleanest air in the world, significantly cleaner in fact than the air in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Japan, Austria and France.
The annual mean concentrations of particulate matter in the air range from less than 10 to over 100 µg/m3, the report states.
“The mean annual concentration of fine suspended particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter is a common measure of air pollution,” the WHO states.
Similarly, another list of the 15 most polluted cities in the world featured three cities from China, three cities from Saudi Arabia, and a whopping seven cities from India.
A third list, ranking the ten cleanest and ten most polluted cities in the world, placed two U.S. cities on the list of cleanest cities on the planet.
The list of the most polluted cities in the world was led by two cities from China followed by two more cities from India.
Rather than follow the time-tested practice used by the World Health Organization, which measures levels of disease-causing pollutants that get into people’s lungs, some have played a shell game, swapping a new measure of “pollution” based solely on emissions of carbon dioxide.
Current levels of carbon dioxide concentration in the environment are substantially lower than they have been during earlier periods in the planet’s history.
Goklany has argued that the rising level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere “is currently net beneficial for both humanity and the biosphere generally.” “The benefits are real, whereas the costs of warming are uncertain,” he said.
Rocky mountain haze
Rocky mountain haze.
University of Utah atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar and colleagues find a correlation between the severity of drought in the Intermountain West and the summertime air quality, particularly the concentration of aerosol particles, in remote mountain wilderness regions.
The link between drought and haze is likely wildfire, the researchers write in Environmental Research Letters.
"If you take that into the future, we’re going to see significant hazing of the West," Hallar says.
Haze in the air is caused by small airborne particles — typically dust, soot, ash or smoke.
Aerosol particles made of organic carbon, such as soot or smoke, can absorb energy, however, warming the climate.
The team, consisting of hydrologists and atmospheric scientists, looked at climate and drought records for the West to see if they could find a connection to the summer mountain haze.
"It’s the fires," Hallar says.
"That has me concerned because climate models are predicting in the future a significant increase in organic aerosol loading."
Hallar hopes that her results highlight the importance of managing the relationship between drought, fire and haze in the West.