China’s pollution goes global

A commonly quoted idea of chaos
theory is that a butterfly flapping
its wings in China can trigger
a hurricane in the US. Now, it
seems it is not colourful insects
but pollution in China that is
affecting global weather patterns.
Using climate models and
data collected over 30 years about
aerosols, fine particles of liquid
suspended in a gas, researchers at
Texas A&M University found air
pollution over Asia is impacting
global air circulations. Much of it
is coming from China.
“The models clearly show
that pollution originating from
Asia has an impact on the upper
atmosphere and it appears to
make storms or cyclones even
stronger,” Professor Renyi Zhang
explains. “This pollution affects
cloud formation, precipitation,
storm intensity and other factors,
and eventually impacts climate.
Most likely, pollution from Asia
can have important consequences
on the weather pattern over
North America.”
The boom in China’s
economy during the last 30
years has led to the building of
countless factories and power
plants that pump out huge
amounts of pollutants into
the atmosphere. Levels of air
pollution in some cities, such
as Beijing, are often more than
100 times higher than acceptable
limits set by the
World Health
Organization’s
standards.

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