Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fiddling with Global Warming While the Chinese Die

The Earth is boiling! Scientists predict that by the year 2075, the seas will have risen 150' and everyone East of the Mississippi will drown! The polar bears are so ticked off that they're building an armada to come down to beat up the entire city of Vancouver! Al Gore has been seen having second helpings at Elario's!

OK, that last one wasn't an exaggeration, but you get my point.

Meanwhile, real, live Chinese workers are being poisoned by real, live pollution. Yet another article in the Wall Street Journal details yet another toxic waste tragedy. This time it's cadmium batteries.
In recent months, Americans have discovered the dark side of their reliance on cheap Chinese goods. From lead-tainted toys to contaminated pet food, the safety of Chinese products is suddenly an American obsession...

The nickel-cadmium battery illustrates this trend. Once widely manufactured in the West, the batteries are now largely made in China, where the industry is sickening workers and poisoning the soil and water...

As the U.S. and other Western nations tightened their regulation of cadmium, production of nickel-cadmium batteries moved to less-developed countries, most of it eventually winding up in China. "Everything was transferred to China because no one wanted to deal with the waste from cadmium," says Josef Daniel-Ivad, vice president for research and development at Pure Energy Visions, an Ontario battery company...

In China, government standards on cadmium exposure are in line with those endorsed by the World Health Organization. And without question, there are safe cadmium plants in China.

But having rules and enforcing them are two different things. China has dozens of so-called "hot spots" where the cadmium contamination is similar to levels at U.S. superfund sites. More that 10% of China's arable land is contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium, according to the State Environmental Protection Agency, and the metals are entering China's food supply.
I just checked the thermometer near here and it hasn't risen at all. This looks safe to me.

Should we worry about this? Nahhhhh. It's all climate change all the time. Say, we just had a Santa Ana. It was dry here in San Diego for the last few days. If this continues, we may never see a cloud again!


Kelly the little black dog said...

So here is a serious question; how would you address this? Clearly the batteries are being made this way in response to the added cost of stricter regulations within the US. Its a situation driven by the desire for higher profits. And its very difficult to determine if a given battery is made within ecological guidelines because the complying factories can still subcontract the work out and not report it. Thoughts?

K T Cat said...

Kelly, the article talks about two cadmium battery factories still operating in the US. They work under incredibly strict environmental rules. I would think that the Chinese batteries are being sold to developed nations. You'd have to have a ban on imported cadmium batteries from factories that have not been inspected by some international team.

Finally, a job for the UN that it might be capable of doing.

Isn't that the way whaling was brought under control?

skep41 said...

China is a disaster waiting to happen. I cant wait for the coal-smog Olympics. How many more public health catastrophes can that society take? Twenty years ago Japan seemed unconquerable but its planned economy and low birthrate (two big factors in China) caught up to them.

Kelly the little black dog said...

At some level this sort of thing needs to come about through domestic (Chinese) pressure. Japan only made progress with their environment disaster when they were embarrassed into doing something about it. Remember the oxygen stations on the street corners of Tokyo in the 70's?

I'm just not convinced that we can successfully hold the Chinese accountable. Its just too easy for them to get around any causal inspection process. What can we do to stop a complying factory from buying batteries from non-complying factories and mixing the two lots?

K T Cat said...

Kelly, I agree with you completely. There's no question but that the developed world has a very limited influence over the internal workings of various nations. However, think about what's being done in the name of Global Warming right now. The movement is trying to influence the behavior of nations through awareness.

How about some awareness for something that's a real threat? In fact, I would bet that if you went after pollution like this, the ancillary benefits against Global Warming would be quite good.