2/27/2005

Air Pollution, Fact or Fiction?

During a class taught a Southern Utah University, a professor was going over air pollution and the so called “green house affect”, when surprisingly to me the professor began to explain from an article he read that ninety-five percent of global warming was do to water vapors in the atmosphere. This was very new to me after being taught for a long time that air pollution is a bad thing. Even in my college studies it’s been taught that air pollution is a negative externality on society. Air pollution comes at a cost that is greater than the benefits when measured on an overall scale. In a recent article from BusinessWeek,"The Smog Trade" it tells of European companies buying and selling “carbon credits”. These “carbon credits” are traded among European companies for pollution rights. Even in America air pollution is in the political lime light for the “harm” it does on society. With this professor explaining the low level of threat air pollution is on society, should there be more research on the subject or should the idea be discounted?

5 comments:

C-Dizzle said...

I was told the same thing here at S.U.U. in a business class.

I think that the whole idea of "Global Warming" is another one of the things brought about by the ever so dramatic media. People like you and me create a demand for junk stories and the media firms simply capitalize off it.

Eric said...

Professor Lewis’s Business Law class right? It really makes you think. Is there really a problem or are we just scaring ourselves to death? I don’t know how much information we can get from more studies but it couldn’t hurt. I think we should educate the general public so that they understand there are two sides to every issue even Global Warming.

Bart said...

I learned in an Earth Science class that the hole in the ozone layer that has supposedly been caused by green house gases may have been there since the dawn of time, but has only been recently discovered. The professor who taught this said that the hole may be a type of vent to let the green house gases escape.

Keston said...

I actually did a report in my English 2010 class on the environment, and I also found studies that said not all Global Warming is caused by pollution. I agree with Meg that it is one of those issues that the media can blow completely out of proportion. This was a really big issue a few years ago, but now people are beginning to realize that everything the environmentalists said, was not always correct. Environmentalists usually talk about the extreme and only provide information to one side of the story. In general, before believing these stories, do some of your own research, and you may find there is not a whole lot of truth to most of them.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on Tom's post for multiple spelling errors.

There's a lot going on this post, not all of it correct.

I'm not sure where the idea that water vapor causes global warming came from. Water vapor inhibits global warming. However, it is true that most of our "pollution" is in the form of water vapor. People tend not to regard that as pollution though.

Yes, air pollution is a negative externality. But it isn't correct to say that the costs exceed the benefits. It is correct to say we pollute too much because some of the costs are hidden.

"The Smog Trade" in the article of the same name is the system I have mentioned a few times in comments. Environmentalists still, and governmnet to a large extent prefer command-and-control methods to control pollution (that is, making it illegal, and then sending the judicial system out to enforce that). Economists prefer methods based on ownership, choice, and trade of pollution rights. It is a slam dunk to show that these work better, but it can be hard to get people to listen sometimes. We will see an example of this in our third experiment in class.

Having said all that, it is a fact that the air has gotten progressively cleaner in most developed countries for going on 40 years now.

P.S. If I can offer a bit of advice on how to look at the world, the conflicts we see are not really between left and right or liberal and conservative. Most of our conflicts are between advoctates of centralized decision-making (telling other people what to do) and decentralized decision-making (trusting other people to do what is best). Looked at through that lens, the convergence of environmentalists, the media, and bureaucrats around issues like global warming is all about centralizing of decisions. This is what those groups have in common. Economists, entrepreneurs, many business people, the military, and IS people don't fall into that group generally because we are the part of society that is used to dealing with things in a decentralized way. So even if we agree that there is a problem, the centralizers and decentralizers will have very different views about how to address them.