Unintended Consequences Await

Reuters: Hong Kong Air Pollution at Worst Levels Ever

Air pollution levels in Hong Kong were the worst ever last year, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday, a finding that may further undermine the city’s role as an Asian financial centre as business executives relocate because of health concerns.

Worsening air quality in Hong Kong caused by vehicle emissions and industrial pollution from the neighboring Pearl River Delta is already forcing many in the financial community to move to Singapore.

Readings at three roadside monitoring stations in Hong Kong’s Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok commercial districts showed that pollution levels were above the 100 mark more than 20 percent of the time, the newspaper said, citing the city’s Environmental Protection Department.

This was 10 times worse than in 2005, when very high readings were recorded only 2 percent of the time, it said.

Simply put, when new environmental regulations go into effect here in the United States of America, two things happen: First, said regulation has a chilling effect on incentive for business growth and the existing infrastructure in a given industry.  Second, businesses that would have set up shop here or businesses that already were here are leaving the country for places like China in order to avoid the added cost of compliance with a constantly changing regulatory environment.

When many of these businesses are chased to China and India, it allows their respective economies to get that much further ahead of ours, and it subjects the planet to more pollution than the same business would have brought about here.  Whether it be for automotive emissions from a growing workforce or emissions coughed up from large plants themselves, China and India do not care for the air and water as we do here.  Forget even the new, extra-legislative regulation of things like coal ash and carbon dioxide — Beijing lacks even a basic Clean Air Act.

Out of sight, out of mind for many of these environmentalist types, I guess.  The way I look at it, though, is that the globe is like one big restaurant — relegating the smokers to one corner of the place is pointless, as the smoke will distribute itself across the entire joint anyway.

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