The smog which turned China into the most polluted country in history last week does not seem to grasp the concept of international boundaries it seems. The smog has now spread, and is now reported as far away as the island of Kyushu, Japan. Needless to say, this has produced a lot of concern in the island nation, with their environment ministries website becoming a very popular place to surf it seems according to officials:
Access to our air-pollution monitoring system has been almost impossible since last week, and the telephone here has been constantly ringing because worried people keep asking us about the impact on health.
Traditionally, airborne particles from China which can be found in Japan are of a yellow color, and come from the deserts of Mongolia. This year, however, the particles are of a multitude of shades not seen before, but colors typical of the smog which now chokes China’s major industrial centers. Atsushi Shimizu of the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), discussed these particles:
At this time of year they are definitely not yellow sands so they’re toxic particles. People with respiratory diseases should be careful.
The environment ministries website is now warning the citizens of Kyushu to expect even worse conditions until at least Wednesday this week.
This issue highlights the problem with short-sighted thinking. Companies industrialized China for cheap labor, citing as one reason the lax environmental regulation of the worlds largest nation. The problem is, pollution does not recognize international borders, and spreads with the wind. The time for coddling, or rewarding, companies which pollute, regardless of where they pollute, must end, and it must end now. The United States has an obligation to require their environmental protections to apply to any company which chooses to sell to the worlds largest consumer market, regardless of where that product or service originated. Otherwise we are rewarding those who would seek to exploit, and destroy, the environment for a quick buck.
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