Tag Archives: global air pollution

China and India’s Soot, Smog and Wood Smoke Comes to the Northwest

Asia’s growing air pollution – billowing million ton plumes of soot, smog and wood smoke – is making the Pacific region cloudier and stormier, disrupting winter weather patterns along the West Coast and into the Arctic” reads the first sentence of a headline story in today’s Seattle Times. Just one more example of the interconnectedness of our climate worldwide and mankind’s impact on changing it.

The story was written by Robert Lee Holtz of the Los Angeles Times. While the Seattle Times reprint of the story includes most of the LA Times article (I’ve printed what was deleted below), it changed the headline to a question. Reading the original story, I wonder why?

The LA Times headline said “Asian air pollution affecting weather. The Pacific region has become stormier, scientists say.”
The Seattle Times headline puts it as a question – “Is Asia’s bad air stirring storms in West? New Research Study. Pollution may be seeding storm clouds on West Coast”

Read the first sentence again and read the article. Read the sentences the Seattle Times omitted from the original story. Why has the Seattle Times slanted the original story with it’s headline asked as a question? The result is that the research is downplayed. What seemed like strong statements supporting the conclusions of the study as reported by the LA Times are instead called into question.

The Seattle Times headline question makes it appear as if the research raised questions that hadn’t been answered. Where did the doubting headline come from? Isn’t this type of editorial doubting just one more example of why it’s taken so long to get movement on addressing pollution issues like global warming ?

In its discussion The LA Times cited a new study released yesterday. “Carried on prevailing winds, the industrial outpouring of dust, sulfur, carbon grit, and trace metals from booming Asian economies is having an intercontinental cloud seeding effect” writes the LA Times regarding a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The PNAS is one of the world’s leading scientific journals respected for its research studies that are peer reviewed before they are published.

The lead researcher in the study, Renyi Zhang of Texas A&M University states that, “The pollution transported from Asia makes storms stronger and deeper and more energetic. It is a direct link from large-scale storm systems to [human produced] pollution.”

So now you know why we had that record rainfall just a short while ago. All those “Made in China” and Made in Korea” or “Made in India” things we bought so cheap are really coming with an additional cost. Maybe they’re not as big of a bargain after all.

What the Seattle Times left out of the LA Times article:

In fact, on any spring or summer day, almost a third of the air high over Los Angeles, San Francisco and other California cities can be traced directly to Asia, researchers said. …

Usually, dust and industrial pollutants take from five days to two weeks to cross the Pacific to California. …

At monitoring sites along the U.S. West Coast, scientists have been detecting pollutants that originated from smokestacks and tailpipes thousands of miles to the west.

Recently, researchers at the University of Washington have captured traces of ozone, carbon monoxide, mercury and particulate matter from Asia at monitoring sites on Mt. Bachelor in Oregon and Cheeka Peak in Washington state.

Cliff and his colleagues have been picking up the telltale chemical signatures of Asian particulates and other pollutants at several monitoring sites north of San Francisco and, during the last year, around Southern California….
“The air above Los Angeles is primarily from Asia,” Cliff
said. “Presumably that air has Asian pollution incorporated into

Headline comparisons:
A separate story in the Oregonian has this headline: “China’s dirty air threatens darker days for Northwest.” A statement, not a question.

Likewise The San Francisco Chronicle – “Pollution Tied to Rainstorms” puts the headline as a statement.

While the Tacoma News Tribune said “Pollution Tied to Rainstorms“, at least the Seattle Times reprinted most of the article in the LA Times. The TNT gave it a scant 4 short paragraphs.

The Olympian ran an AP story entitled – ‘Study finds Asia’s pollution brews storms over Pacific”

And while the Seattle PI has a story posted on its website with a statement headline (AP story – “Asian Pollution affects Pacific Storms” and 2 updates, I should note that today’s print edition had no story. Hopefully there will be a story in tomorrow’s print edition.

And I can not say for sure which of the other stories besides the Seattle Times story was also carried in their print editions.