Forget about the jobs – corporate America is now so obsessed with outsourcing that it’s even outsourcing our pollution.
When the United States and other developed Europeans nations talk about how they’re working to cut their carbon emissions, take these words with a grain of salt. In truth, they’re just sending their pollution-brewing businesses to other countries, leaving them to take the heat for the environmental damage.
Make no mistake – the United States is very much complicit in the emissions on the rise in developing nations. The electronics and clothing produced in many of these factories aren’t for the benefit of the local population. Instead, these goods get exported back to America. Is it really fair to say that the pollution is China’s fault when Americans are using the smart phones that were created from these carbon emissions?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this fact has made attributing carbon emissions to certain countries far more complicated. Generally, western nations only want to claim the greenhouse gases being released within the boundaries of their own countries, even though they should have to take responsibility for the companies operating abroad on their behalf. Moving forward, as the international community will demand accountability in an attempt to avert a climate crisis, this discrepancy will certainly become a heavily debated topic.
“If we are just looking at our national inventory to understand the emissions trends, it is just not telling the full picture of our impacts,” said Cynthia Cummis, an environmental expert for the World Resources Institute. “We need to understand the full life cycle of all the goods and services that we are purchasing and selling.”
The situation is even worse when you consider that these developing nations rely on some of the dirtiest forms of energy around. Burning coal, which is a nightmare for the climate, is the most popular way to create these American goods because there are rarely regulations in place to limit its use.
There’s no point in the United States patting itself on the back for working toward cutting emissions when it is covertly outsourcing its dirty work. As long as the United States maintains its love affair with excessive consumption, the pollution problem will persist, though perhaps in other, less wealthy countries.
This unofficial policy of “out of sight, out of mind” will have an expiration date eventually. While the United States may successfully push the smog to other countries, in the end, the resulting climate change will affect us all.