Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Brown Cloud

This is the "brown cloud", a term created to name the cloud of pollution hanging over parts of Asia (in the photo, shown over parts of China and Korea, taken from the NASA website). I came across this term reading this excellent article in Time magazine. Having lived in Singapore the last couple of years, I became acutely aware of the pollution problem in Asia. Please don't get me wrong. I wasn't a novice regarding environmental pollution, having lived in Sao Paulo most of my life. And Singapore is very clean. The air quality here is pretty satisfactory for the most part of the year, apart from a couple of weeks when the smoke from the burning forests in Sumatra reach the island. Traveling around the region though, you can't help but notice that it's rare to spot some clear blue skies. But you don't have to travel to Asia to witness these dreadful and depressing scenes (think about winter times in the UK, only that the grey sky in Asia is caused by pollution rather than clouds). Or, if you watch the TV news, try to notice the color of the sky in major Asian cities such as Beijing, Jakarta, and Hong Kong. It'll always be grey, I tell you right away (the only exception might be Tokyo, but that's only because Japan is the only Asian country that, having suffered its own problems with environment pollution in the past, has now one of the most efficient environment policies in the world).
This brown cloud is a result of a number of factors: the industrialization process in Southern China, huge construction sites (think Beijing Olympics), forest burning (in Indonesia, and in the Philippines), coal-based energy (80% of China's electricity comes from coal, which is the main source of carbon dioxide, the global warming gas), and of course, over-population and lack of efficient policies.
Obviously this is not only an Asian problem, it has far reaching consequences for global warming as well. I write this still impacted by a couple of events that took place recently.
One is Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" that is being released worldwide. See the trailer below (better definition here).


The other is the British government's latest report on the environment. It's the first report to finally put a price tag on the cost of attacking the climate change problem. The cost is staggering, 1% of the global GDP within the next decade, about £ 184 billion. But if we don't act now, in thirty years the price will be even costlier, an apocalyptic £ 3.65 trillion! You can view the report here.

References:
Associated Press. 2006. Pollution Darkens China Skies. Wired. January 27, 2006.
Hinsliff, Gabi. 2006. £ 3.68 Trillion. The Price of Failing to Act on Climate Change. The Guardian. October 29, 2006.
Walsh, Brian. 2006. Visions of Green. Time. October 2, 2006.
Watts, Susan. 2006. A Coal-Dependant Future? BBC.co.uk. March 9, 2005.

1 comment:

407 IN VITRO said...

cara, muito legal. quem recomendou foi um amigo da JWT. dá uma olhada no nosso blog e na nossa página, e me diz o que vc acha.
vamos trocar umas figurinhas.
abs,
alex