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Environment: Study shows globalization of pollution

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Haze over eastern China. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory. (LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team).

Researchers say West Coast smog partially caused by pollutants from Chinese factories that export products to the U.S.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Globalization of trade has nibbled away at the gap between the have- and have-not countries, but the massive transfer of manufacturing also had some unforeseen consequences for the environment.

For example, air pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean from China to the West Coast of the U.S. is often caused by the production of the very goods that end up being bought by American consumers, according to research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study is the first to quantify how much pollution reaching the American West Coast is from the production in China of cellphones, televisions and other consumer items imported here and elsewhere. Continue reading

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Report highlights problems of unreported commercial fishing

Chinese fleet takes 12 times more fish than it reports

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A new analysis shows where China catches its fish.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Illegal fishing is a persistent problem, but it appears that China has elevated it to a new level, catching about 12 times more fish than it formally reports to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, an international agency that keeps track of global fisheries catches.

Overall, Chinese fishing boats catch about US$11.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country’s own waters each year according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.

“China hasn’t been forthcoming about its fisheries catches,” said Dirk Zeller, a senior research fellow with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “While not reporting catches doesn’t necessarily mean the fishing is illegal … we simply don’t know for sure as this information just isn’t available,” Zeller said, explaining that there could be agreements between China and other countries that allow unreported fishing. Continue reading

New tourism policy to boost outbound Chinese travel

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Tourism destinations around the world could benefit from a new policy encouraging Chinese people to travel.

Government wants to encourage both domestic and foreign travel

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Chinese travelers are already boosting tourism economies around the world, but a new national policy that specifically encourages travel abroad could lead to an increase surge of business at popular destinations, according to the World Tourism Organization.

The Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020), issued by the State Council of China, the country´s highest level of government, presents a roadmap for restructuring the current paid leave system across China. Continue reading

Study: Many nuclear power plants in tsunami risk zones

Spanish researchers compile a detailed map of high-risk areas

A NOAA map shows the paths of the energy generated by the March 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Fukushima disaster might not be the last time a tsunami damages a nuclear facility, according to a team of Spanish researchers who there are a total of 23 nuclear power plants at various stages of operation or construction in high-risk areas.

The power plants have a total of 74 reactors; 29 are active and seven new plants with 16 reactors are under construction in hazard zones. The study, published the Natural Hazards journal, maps areas at risk of large tsunamis. The danger zones include the West Coast of North America,the Spanish/Portuguese Atlantic Coast and the coast of North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and areas of Oceania, especially in South and Southeast Asia. Continue reading

Travel: Tourist visits to U.S. up 10 percent this summer

Efforts to speed visa-processing paying off; tourism industry touts job-growth potential

Western outdoor destinations play an important role in the national tourism equation.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — International tourism to the U.S. surged during the summer travel season, with the number of visitors increasing 10 percent from the previous year and revenues also climbing.

In a new report issued this week, the White House is at least partly crediting the administration’s travel and tourism policy, which set very specific goals for visa processing and other measures to help boost travel to the U.S.

As a result of the policies, visa wait times in Brazil and China have been cut dramatically, from 140 days down to an average of two days in Brazil, according to the report. Continue reading

Global CO2 emissions hit new high in 2011

Global carbon dioxide emissions at new high in 2011.

Pace of greenhouse gas buildup increases

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global carbon dioxide emissions hit an all-time record high of 34 billion tons in 2011, with the biggest jump coming in China, where per capita emissions are now at European levels of about 7.2 tons per person. Overall, Chinese CO2 emissions increased by 9 percent.

That puts China within the range of 6 to 19 tons of per capita emission, similar to rates in most major industrialized countries.

European Union CO2 emissions dropped by 3 percent in 2011, to 7.5 ton per capita.

The United States remain one of the largest emitters, at about 17.3 tons per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and increased use of natural gas. Continue reading

Particulate pollution drives global warming gap

Harvard research pinpoints climate effects of aerosols

Observed change in surface air temperature between 1930 and 1990. Observations are from the NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis. Image courtesy of Eric Leibensperger.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Particulate pollution over industrialized regions can at least temporarily mask the global warming signal by reflecting heat back into the outer layers of the atmosphere, according to Harvard researchers, who say that they’ve pinpointed a “warming hole” over the eastern United States.

“What we’ve shown is that particulate pollution over the eastern United States has delayed the warming that we would expect to see from increasing greenhouse gases,” said lead author Eric Leibensperger, who completed the study as a graduate student in applied physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“For the sake of protecting human health and reducing acid rain, we’ve now cut the emissions that lead to particulate pollution,” he added, “but these cuts have caused the greenhouse warming in this region to ramp up to match the global trend.” Continue reading

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