The Truth About Pollution

James Muenzenmaier, A&E Editor

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It is a common belief that the world’s most populated and industrialized countries are primarily responsible for a majority of the worlds pollution. This generalization is largely supported by media outlets and activists claiming that the nation’s first priority should be to increase the quality of the air and water we interact with by capturing greenhouse gases as efficiently as possible. While the United States does have a high annual CO2 emission, it is important to consider the population of similar countries, or to better state it, CO2 emissions per capita.

This statistic measures how many metric tons of heat trapping gasses are produced per individual person. In a sense, this is the country’s “average” in terms of pollution. In 2017, the United States was given a CO2 emissions per capita index of 15.7 metric tons. This may sound alarming, but this statistic should not be the only evidence presented in this case. For instance, the highest emissions per capita rating of 2017 went to Palau, being 64.9 metric tons per person. Keeping in mind the population of this country, about 22,200 people, Compared to the U.S. population of 329,093,000 people, the accuracy of that measurement becomes less meaningful.

Another component of this problem to keep in mind, is the rate at which annual pollution in some countries is changing. In the year 2005, the United States produced a total of 5,971.57 metric tons of CO2, while China produced 6,263.06 metric tons. However, the change in yearly emissions between these two countries is quite different. In 2017, the U.S. has lowered the yearly amount of CO2 emissions to 5,107.39, only an additional 0.4% of its emissions in the year 1990. Whereas China’s total emissions for 2017 reaches 10,877.218 metric tons, roughly a 454% increase since 1990. China is currently one of the most polluted countries in Asia.

From these statistics, it becomes difficult to accuse the United States of intentionally poisoning the world’s air and water supply. This is because of the advancements in technology and the effort of corporate entities that allows people to produce and manufacture more with a lower carbon footprint. But as members of one human race, it is our responsibility to assist and develop neighboring and allied countries in preserving our beautiful planet and the lives that hang in the balance.