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Fighting Pollution A Global Duty
The United Nations (UN) released a report on the "Asian Brown Cloud," a 2-mile-thick blanket of smog over South Asia, earlier this week.

According to the study by 200 scientists under the auspices of the UN Environment Program, the large plume envelopes damaging airborne particles from bio-mass burning, auto emissions and dirty industries.

The polluted cloud has led to as much as a 15 percent loss of sunlight to the ground and oceans in the region. Scientists contend that it could affect the regions' temperature and rainfall patterns.

Many places in the region have poor sanitary and medical facilities, and many people are living in poverty. This means they are extremely vulnerable to such hazards. Even worse is that the cloud's impact could be global since prevailing winds may push the pollution cloud halfway around the world in just a week.

However, South Asian countries can hardly solve the problem alone, and they need help from Western countries that have pumped noxious gases into the atmosphere and have reaped the fruits of industrialization.

In particular, the United States, the world's largest polluter, should aggressively work to reduce air pollution and global warming although it has stubbornly walked away from Kyoto Protocol.

Developed countries should fulfill their promise of the official development assistance representing 0.7 percent of their gross national product (GNP).

To address global environmental problems, developed countries should provide technological support to developing countries. Yet under the pretext of protection of intellectual property rights, they have been dragging their heels.

The global society, which will meet at the World Summit on Sustainable Development opening August 26 in Johannesburg, should waste no time curbing the damage before the trend becomes irreversible.

(China Daily August 15, 2002)

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