Air pollution is a worldwide issue, although not every country shares an equal portion of the responsibility. A recent study scoured tons of data points to identify the nations that have had the biggest impact on our planet’s worsening air quality.
While China is currently the biggest creator of planet-warming polluting gasses, the United States has had the longest (and overall the most negative) effect on our atmosphere. China is the second largest, followed by Russia, Brazil, and India.
As Axios reports, the researchers behind the study hope their data can pressure these top-polluting countries to enact policies that curb their creation of planet-warming polluting gasses such as carbon dioxide. These gasses are created when dirty energy sources like coal are burned to generate power for cities and towns.
The study also highlighted some of the complications that developing countries face. While many of the coal plants in the U.S. are relatively old, places like China and India have seen an expansion of such polluting energy facilities in the last 20 years.
However, this also provides an opportunity to develop international economic policies that can help developing countries jump right into cleaner energy sources like solar, wind, or geothermal power — an easier path than trying to pull communities away from dirty energy once they’ve already built the infrastructure to produce it.
This study is yet one more solid piece of information that can help shape much-needed changes in our energy policy in the U.S. and across the globe. Solar and wind have come a long way in the last half-century, and there’s no better time to transition toward these technologies and to help developing nations skip dirty energy entirely. Solar panels are becoming more efficient and cheaper to produce every year. With the right approach, the table is set for a total change in how we produce power across the globe.
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