How USA is one of top polluters in most sources but is consistently ranked relatively favorably (in the middle) for how polluted it is?


How USA is one of top polluters in most sources but is consistently ranked relatively favorably (in the middle) for how polluted it is?

In: Chemistry

A lot of it is just how big the US is and how much the population and industrial centers are spread out.

If I have a country that is 100 square miles and pollutes x amount, and a country that is 1000 square miles and pollutes 5x amount, the second country pollutes 5 times as much as the first country but said pollution is spread out over 10 times the area, so would likely be only half as polluted.

Oversimplified but still pretty accurate. The USA is the third largest country by area behind Russia and Canada and ahead of china.

Because there are lots of efforts to keep our land clean. We also have a first class trash disposal service, cities that pay a lot to stay clean, laws regarding waste disposal, ect. National pride helps, motivated people to preserve our natural beauty. Some big cities are very polluted but are making efforts to clean up.

The United States is massive and full of green forests and clean water. The forests help keep our air clean. It’s also full of national parks, nature reserves, and federal land that is not allowed to be developed and kept in a clean natural state. A huge portion is of my state is government land that is not allowed to be developed. They wont even allow cell towers to be built. Being huge and so spread out helps. Also having the Pacific Ocean to shield us from Chinas pollution helps.

I grew up in a very clean midwestern farming state. Amazing crisp clean air and clean water. Can literally drink right out of the lakes. Had no idea what pollution really looked like until I lived in Korea for a year.

Much of US pollution is air pollution from industry and high ownership of person vehicles. But since the 70s most other forms of pollution have been attacked and limited. So less industrial waste in rivers and trash on the ground than other nations. I think the US is also blamed a lot for the trash that ends up in the sea but I could be mistaken. The US makes incredible efforts to preserve our natural beauty.

Because the US isn’t “polluted,” even though it emits a rather large amount of pollution.

Outside of a few individual cities (particularly LA), smog, particulates, NOx, and SOx emissions are relatively low. The US really just produces two emissions; carbon dioxide, and methane. One is only harmful at concentrations above 1000 PPM for sustained periods (which we’re not really close to in the ambient), and the other is completely odorless, colorless, and benign to living tissue.

The other important aspect is that the areas where pollution density is highest (our cities) are still significantly less polluted than our peers overseas, entirely because our cities are so much less dense. Emissions follow consumption on a per-capita basis, and so when you have a lot of people crammed together, you’re going to have a lot of emission production crammed together as well. The US really only has three cities that have population densities approaching our peers in Europe and Asia; two of them (NYC and Boston) are kept relatively clean via city regulation, and the third (Washington DC) is kept clean by virtue of the US government bending over backwards to keep the Capital looking spotless (helped in major part by the fact that the National Mall is National Park space).

Top polluters meaning what?


It depends on what you mean by “pollution”. The US is one of the leading emitters of carbon dioxide, which causes global warming and climate change. However, thanks to fairly good regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, the US is pretty good in terms of sooty particles, acid rain, ground-level ozone, photochemical smog, and chlorofluorocarbons — and it’s *much* better than it was a few decades ago. Water and soil pollution are also fairly well controlled compared to other countries, and compared to our past.

Environmental regulation works, but when we call it all “pollution” we hide the fact that some things aren’t regulated.

Say you are a farmer. You butcher a pig and get a gallon of blood everywhere. Then you take the meat, cook it, and put it on your dinner table. The blood and food happens in the same place.

But now say you get a factory to do your butchering for you. 100 pigs are killed. 100 gallons of blood are spilled. But the meat is then cleaned and put on people’s dinner plate. All the blood is concentrated in one place, and the clean product is in another place.

The same thing applies to the US. Countries like China manufacture a ton of goods. They have factories dumping pollution into the atmosphere. The air is barely breathable. Then the clean products are shipped to the US for Americans to use.

Ultimately, the mess is concentrated in a different place as the finished product. So it depends on how you measure pollution. Most charts chalk up that pollution in China’s bucket, even though Americans are the primary beneficiaries. But depending on how you phrase it, it can go the other way (e.g, if you are talking about carbon footprints).