Academic journal article Science and Children

Maps Link Consumers to Environmental Impact

Academic journal article Science and Children

Maps Link Consumers to Environmental Impact

Article excerpt

In a new model, global hot spot maps illuminate how items we buy pollutes the planet and where. The idea is to help governments, industries, and individuals target areas for cleanup.

Global trade has changed the way goods are made: In the 1970s, most goods were purchased in the same country. Today, cheap shipping and global outsourcing means that more Western products are produced abroad.

Environmental footprints include global supply chains that show the impacts of a purchase. In addition to showing the amount of C[O.sup.2] or other pollutants a purchase causes, the researchers map the environmental footprint of the goods purchased to places where that footprint actually falls. The research connects "hot spots" for greenhouse gases and unhealthy air to consumers in many countries.

"What we are trying to do is to connect economic activity and global supply chains with environmental impacts," says Daniel Moran, one of the lead authors of the study. "We tried to spatially locate environmental impacts on the production side and link that to global supply chains" on the consumer side.

Solving climate change or air pollution is extremely difficult because they result from many small actions. In the case of a mobile phone, for instance, a consumer buys one and a company makes it. Companies across the globe supply materials to those phone manufacturers, so they can assemble them into a mobile phone. …

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