Move to Beijing and Lose 3 Years of Your Life

A day breathing Beijing's polluted air can take 2 to 3 "microlives" from your life expectancy, which adds up to three years over an average lifetime.

Mar 9, 2014 at 9:00AM

The Sierra Club launched a lawsuit against Ameren (NYSE:AEE) this week, highlighting an alarming problem that seems to be getting scant attention. The case has to do with particulate-matter emissions from some of Ameren's coal plants, which consistently violate standards set forth under the Clean Air Act. You should care, because that particulate matter is killing people.

Sooty Smoke Stacks Credit Nick Bramhall

Source: Nick Bramhall

Killer air
Particulate matter is basically a bunch of teeny, tiny specs of airborne stuff. It's so small that it can penetrate deep into our lungs, leading to cardiopulmonary disease, cancer, and even death. It kills five times as many people as malaria every year, and almost twice as many as AIDS.

Particulate matter comes from a variety of sources. Some of it arises naturally, from forest fires, for example. But a whole lot of it comes from industry and technology. Vehicle tail pipes spew a ton of it, though less than they once did. Industrial production, especially of consumer goods and pesticides, emits a lot of particulate matter as well. Circling back to Ameren, coal-fired power plants are also big sources of particulate matter.

Some parts of the world have it worse than others. Breathing the air in Beijing all your life would cost you about three years of that life. New Delhi is even worse.

Here in the U.S., things have actually been getting better. After years of decline in American air quality, especially in regions such as the area around Los Angeles, tight regulations under the Clean Air Act helped to turn things around. Vehicle component manufacturers worked wonders in improved combustion and filtration technologies, putting a major dent in tailpipe emissions of particulate matter.

Right now, we actually have the opportunity to go soot-free, but it won't be without pain. While we've made a ton of progress in improving our air quality, it's still not enough. We need to do more to bring the public health threat down to reasonable levels.

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is about to start enforcing a tighter standard for particulate-matter concentrations. The EPA estimates that achieving the new limit will cost businesses an estimated $53 million to $350 million per year. For some high emitters, like coal-fired power plants, meeting the new requirement could be downright impossible. Watch the following video to find out more about this risk, and what it could mean.

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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