Friday, 18 January 2008

Texas tops the most polluting state list in the USA

Unbelievable as it may sound, the Lone Star state (Texas for all of us non-US citizens) produces more greenhouse gas emissions than many countries, including the UK! According to the US Energy Information Administration, Texas released 670 million tonnes of CO2 in 2003, making it the seventh biggest polluter in the world, producing more than the second ranked state, California and third ranked state Pennsylvania put together. That’s a pretty big number for a state with 23.5 million residents. Granted Texas does have a high concentration of polluting industries, but 28% of these emissions came from vehicles. While the industrial component of these emissions will be difficult to change, the vehicular emissions should, in theory be much easier to reduce.

There are 20 million cars in Texas, 5 million of which are pick-up trucks. Driving smaller and less polluting cars would be a positive step in the right direction. In practice however, this seems like a step too far for the average Texan. In a poll last spring, only 4% of Texans included the environment as a pressing issue for the USA. The Texas governor Rick Perry has apparently expressed doubts over global warming being a man-made problem. With a state leadership in denial of global warming, the chances of Texas taking effective measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are slim to zero.

The attitude towards their cars is summed up pretty well by a Texan mother whose family of six have three 4x4’s and two pick-up trucks “I would definitely put size and safety over the emissions thing." I’ve never been to Texas, but I would imagine living in a US state with good roads and a serious lack of wild elephants and rhinoceroses, driving a normal fuel-efficient car is probably quite safe. Whereas the “emissions thing” is pretty much a dead cert to cause problems for everyone around the world, Texans included.

[via The Telegraph]

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I don't mean to quibble, but CO2 is not a "pollutant," in spite of the recent bizarre Supreme Court ruling. CO2 is one of the building blocks of life. That it may be a minor contributor to global warming (water vapor, another non-pollutant, contributes much more) does not warrant calling it a pollutant. Texas does have industries -- the petrochemical industry is the largest -- that do pollute, but that is because of their number and size, not because of lack of regulation.

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Yes CO2 is a "pollutant" in the sense it can be harmful and negatively affect the environmental quality. When large amounts are released in the atmosphere, they prevent the heat/high energy UV rays from escaping into space. This is why it is considered a greenhouse gas because it traps the heat before the Earth can re-radiate it into space. Increased heat means increased climate change. Dumbass

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