Pollution In India

The NY Times recently had an article about the high levels of pollution in India’s capital city, Delhi.

Beijing’s air pollution has reached such toxic levels recently that the Chinese government is finally acknowledging the problem – and acting on it. But in New Delhi on Thursday, air pollution levels far exceeded those in Beijing, only without any government acknowledgement or action.

When I was in India in late 2012 I too was overwhelmed and amazed by the level of smog and pollution in the capital. When you blew your nose, particulate matter came out in your snot. This photo taken below is out the window of our tour bus and you could not see large office buildings along the roadside a few hundred feet away.

The tuk-tuk in the photo (it is a three wheeled semi-motorcycle used as a taxi) is green and yellow because those are the official colors of vehicles using CNG, designed to reduce pollution, which are also used for city buses. Unfortunately the streets are clogged with traditional gas powered vehicles and myriad ancient looking diesel trucks which more than make up the difference.

While US greens worry about our pollution levels, they are not even measurable when compared to China and India. China recently surpassed the US as the world’s largest car market in terms of annual sales and India is growing rapidly. China and India also continue to invest in coal power and many of their industrial and power-producing facilities spew far more particulate than the US equivalents (although it is hard to measure since the EPA has effectively banned most new coal construction, so it is all natural gas for incremental power units, with some windmills and solar to appease the greens).

It is important to realize that any sort of battle on the environment or pollution would need to be fought not in the US or developing counties, but in India, China and the developing world. It should be noted that these countries have opted out of limits and treaties and seem to be indifferent to levels of pollution and disruption that US citizens would not tolerate for a minute.

As far as Europe, it is effectively being de-industrialized anyways by various socialistic and green policies and will have their current difficulties magnified if the Euro depreciates against the dollar, causing them to pay even more for imported fuel. The US now enjoys the huge benefits of basically being self sufficient in natural gas and oil and many other critical minerals and foodstuffs, which in turn benefits our currency since we don’t have to send as much overseas for oil and have it recycled in their investments in our debt. So soon they will have their wind farms and extremely high electricity prices which they then can pass on to tourists because they will be bringing the hard currency anyways.

The greens effectively won in Europe, de-industrializing them, but don’t even have a chance in India and China, where the health of citizens is far below keeping the current politicians in power (India) and economic growth and wealth (China). In the US we have reached an uneasy balance due to the shale gas revolution (done completely independent of the US government) which allows us another course for manufacturing, heating and power.

Cross posted at LITGM

7 thoughts on “Pollution In India”

  1. Much will depend on the next US election, this year and 2016. The Australians figured it out last September. Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007 on a green platform but shortly after taking office was educated on what his plans would do to electricity rates and he quickly changed the program.

    I don’t think Obama is as educable as Rudd was and I am concerned that US voters are not as responsible as the Australians. I guess we will see in November. Whatever you think about Bill Clinton, he was smart enough to see which way the wind was blowing in 1994. I don’t think Obama is or that Hillary is.

  2. Over the past six months I have been placing my long term bets and they are on nat gas. I suspect I will continue to do so for the next 6 months, or maybe 6 years.

    Four days ago even the left of center Bloomberg News acknowledged fracking’s beneficial impact on Treasuries. The thought of quantitative easing — sans fracking boom — would be an interesting scenario to explore.


  3. When I worked selling canned sauces to restaurants as a salesman in Pittsburgh in 1960 I started my calls at 6:00 am. The air was so dirty that by noon I had to change my white shirt because it was grey and dirty.

    Pittsburgh cleaned up the air in the seventies by closing down the steel mills. The mills left town and went to India and China. A lot of Pittsburgers were left unemployed. Some left town, but many stayed and are still unemployed.

  4. “but many stayed and are still unemployed.”

    But they have clean air. When Obama gets finished with the coal industry, and if he gets his way with oil, we will all have clean air and no jobs. He has invented a perpetual motion machine. Just as good as all the others that went before.

  5. The decline in traditional Big Steel wasn’t *all* due to offshoring…don’t have exact numbers handy, but part of it was due to the rise of mini-mills, which produce steel from scrap rather than from iron ore. Nucor was one example of a pioneering mini-mill-based company.

  6. We have a number of pathways to clean power, at which point the actual mass of pro-environment greens that are the low-information footsoldiers are going to be surprised to find how many luddites there are in their movement.

    Fusion seems to be quietly making progress but it’s been doing that for decades. Unless one of the small fusion underdogs pulls a rabbit out of the hat (I’m looking at you emc2fusion) it’s likely going to continue to make quiet small strides for many years to come.

    With radical reductions in lift costs looking to be coming up with SpaceX and its new space competitors, some of the orbital power solutions might be worth taking a second look at. Solar power gets less ridiculous once you don’t have an atmosphere between the sun and the generation plant, though getting that power back down to the surface will have its own challenges.

    Modern design mini fission reactors look to be promising and a good bet to reasonable power costs so long as they’re objectively assessed.

    We should be able to run scenarios, identify the relevant variables and see what’s missing, where the progress is being made and given past rates of progress, when it is realistic to hope that we can end the oil age without going back to the pre-industrial era. I’m actually kind of surprised nobody does this at present (or do they and I’ve missed it?)

  7. }}} though getting that power back down to the surface will have its own challenges.

    While I am not adamantly against SPS, esp. since it implies a booming space industry and a steady, long-term presence in space and at least regular translunar travel (you aren’t going to make SPS by shipping the stuff out of THIS gravity well), it’s a pretty big and somewhat risky investment, to contrast what small nukes can almost certainly do cheaply, cleanly, and safely.

    And it won’t be safe from the Green Luddites. The only obvious way to get the power back to earth is to beam it down via microwaves, and the LIVs are very susceptible to ridiculous claims about “radiation”. I mean, “if it cooks our food, how the hell could microwaves ever be safe??”

    Explaining that to the LIVs is going to be a lot tougher than explaining fracking.

Comments are closed.