Despite recent attempts to paint the United States as a major global polluter, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. is among the cleanest nations on the planet.
In the most recent WHO report on air pollution, the United States was listed as one of the countries with the cleanest air in the world, significantly cleaner in fact than the air in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Japan, Austria and France.
While France and other G7 countries lamented the U.S. exit from the Paris climate accord, America’s air is already cleaner than that of any other country in the G7.
Following standard practice, the WHO measures air pollution by the mean annual concentration of fine suspended particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter. These are the particles that cause diseases of all sorts and are responsible for most deaths by air pollution.
According to the WHO, exposure to particulate matter increases the risk of acute lower respiratory infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
The report, which analyzed the “annual median concentration of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less (PM2.5) for both urban population and rural and urban population” found that the United States was one of the most pollution-free nations in the world.
The annual mean concentrations of particulate matter in the air range from less than 10 to over 100 µg/m3, the report states. At the very low end of the spectrum, the United States has a concentration of just 8, while China has a concentration more than seven times higher at 59, India at 66, Egypt at 101 and Saudi Arabia with the worst air pollution at 127.
“The mean annual concentration of fine suspended particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter is a common measure of air pollution,” the WHO states.
The WHO report is corroborated by a series of other such studies on air and water pollution.
In a recent list of the 25 cleanest cities in the world, the only country to boast three cities among the cleanest on the planet was the United States of America, with Chicago coming in second place, Honolulu coming in fourth, and Portland, OR, coming in sixteenth. Unsurprisingly, no cities from China, Russia or India made the list at all.
Similarly, another list of the 15 most polluted cities in the world featured three cities from China, three cities from Saudi Arabia, and a whopping seven cities from India. No U.S. city made the list.
A third list, ranking the ten cleanest and ten most polluted cities in the world, placed two U.S. cities on the list of cleanest cities on the planet. The list of the most polluted cities in the world was led by two cities from China followed by two more cities from India. Two Russian cities also made the list. Again, no U.S. cities were found here.
With such relatively clean air throughout America, how can even reputable news agencies like Reuters continue spreading the well-worn lie that the United States is one of the “biggest polluters” in the world?
Rather than follow the time-tested practice used by the World Health Organization, which measures levels of disease-causing pollutants that get into people’s lungs, some have played a shell game, swapping a new measure of “pollution” based solely on emissions of carbon dioxide.
The problem with this ploy is that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and it is dishonest to say it is. CO2 is colorless, odorless and completely non-toxic. Plants depend on it to live and grow, and human beings draw some into their lungs with every breath they take to no ill effect whatsoever.
Growers regularly pump CO2 into greenhouses, raising levels to three times that of the natural environment, to produce stronger, greener, healthier plants.
Current levels of carbon dioxide concentration in the environment are substantially lower than they have been during earlier periods in the planet’s history. Without human intervention, the concentration of CO2 has climbed as high as 7,000 parts per million (ppm) in prior eras, whereas at present the concentration is just over 400 ppm.
Some experts, such as UN climate scientist Dr. Indur Goklany, have defended rising CO2 levels as a good thing for humanity. Goklany has argued that the rising level of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere “is currently net beneficial for both humanity and the biosphere generally.”
“The benefits are real, whereas the costs of warming are uncertain,” he said.
While the United States must remain vigilant to keep the level of real, dangerous pollutants to a minimum, it may take some consolation in the fact that among G7 nations, it has the cleanest air of all.