A study conducted by the National Academy of Science of the United States has found that high pollution levels in Asia are exacerbating storms. Researchers believe that high pollution levels are actually causing storms to strengthen as clouds are becoming taller and thicker. The effects of the pollution are most prominent during the winter.
Due to the fact that the storms form over the Pacific Ocean and said ocean has profound effects on storm systems across the globe, the fallout of the pollution could potentially impact countries across the globe. Thus, the pollution pouring out of China and other manufacturing hubs could have profound impacts on the United States and elsewhere.
What happens in Asia doesn’t stay in Asia
Dozens of countries circle the Pacific Rim, including most of the countries of South America, North America, and Asia and Oceania. So any impact on the storm systems on in the Pacific can have big impacts on numerous different nations, regardless of whether or not they are causing the pollution.
Indeed, wind systems and currents mean that pollution is often swept away and redistributed, making it someone else’s problem. Scientists note that cyclones and other storms are becoming more powerful, likely due to the pollution, and that precipitation is increasing. Heat from the tropics is also moving more swiftly towards the poles, causing them to melt.
Together, this means that Asian pollution could have profound erffects on the lives of people across the Pacific Rim and perhaps even the world.
Aerosols leading to bigger storms
Bigger is better, right? Perhaps not with storms. Aerosols, which refer to fine particles suspended in the air, are rapidly increasing in the Pacific. Dust storms, wind, and other natural processes generate huge amounts of aerosols, but increasingly human activities are also producing aerosols and depositing them in the atmosphere.
Indeed, studies suggest that human-made aerosols actually outnumber natural aerosols. This is essential because these partials can reflect heat and light, both away from and towards the Earth, and thus can cause temperature changes.
At the same time, these particles are also essential in cloud formation, causing water to condense and collect around them. With aerosol levels rising, clouds have become thicker and bigger. This creates more insulation and traps heat on the Earth’s surface, and can also create bigger and more powerful storm systems.
Asia’s pollution levels among the highest in the world
Pollution often goes hand-in-hand with increased pollution. The reasons are simple, as economies advance, more electricity is used, more people drive cars, and more factories and other advanced industrial facilities are built. These, in turn, tend to generate pollution, including greenhouse gases and other things.
Asia has enjoyed a long period of industrial growth with China, Malaysia, Singapore and others emerging as world-leading manufacturing hubs. At the same time, millions of Asians have joined the middle class and along the way they have plugged in TVs, air conditioners, and all the other amenities of modern life.
New Delhi currently wears the crown of the most polluted city in the world, in terms of air pollution, knocking Beijing off from the top spot, at least among major cities. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a small town by global standards, is actually considered the most polluted city in Asia, and trails only Ahwaz, Iran.
Beijing, admittedly, has made progress in reducing air pollution through the use of tighter restrictions and efforts to reduce emissions. The most polluted city in China is actually Lanzhou, the capital of a Northwestern state. The city has emerged as one of China’s leading manufacturing hubs.
Concerted efforts needed to control pollution
Regardless, Asia as a whole has a long way to go in regards to controlling pollution. While China and other countries are moving to control pollution in their major cities, these efforts do not yet mount to sweeping pollution control and reform. In order to genuinely tackle the problem, concerted efforts on the international stage will be needed.