Fact Check By: Newswise
We're gonna put from the Green New Deal, millions of billions of dollars cleaning our good air up. … Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then now we got to clean that back up, while they’re messing ours up.Claim Publisher and Date: Herschel Walker on 2022-07-09
At a campaign event in Georgia, Herschel Walker, the former NFL star who is running for Senate and endorsed by President Trump, shared his thoughts on the "Green New Deal" and efforts to curb climate change with government policy. Walker suggested that U.S. climate efforts were pointless because “China’s bad air” would simply move over into American “air space.”
“We in America have some of the cleanest air and cleanest water of anybody in the world,” Walker begins at about the 24 mark in the video of his speech. Under the Green New Deal, he said, the U.S would spend “millions of billions of dollars cleaning our good air up. … Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then now we got to clean that back up, while they’re messing ours up.”
“So what we’re doing is just spending money,” he continued. “Until these other countries can get on board and clean what they got up, it ain’t going to help us to start cleaning our stuff up. We’re already doing it the right way.”
We find nearly every aspect of this claim to be completely inaccurate. Walker’s description of how air circulates around the world is not correct, nor is the simplification of his assessment of "clean air" and "bad air." The United States does not actively “clean” air now or under the proposed "Green New Deal." The "Green New Deal" is a nonbinding resolution introduced in Congress in 2019 that lays out a broad vision for how the country might tackle climate change over the next decade in order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It didn't pass the Senate vote. The Green New Deal does not address traditional air pollutants nor does it propose to spend "millions of billions of dollars cleaning our good air up." Facts on the "Green Neal Deal" can be read here.
"Bad" air does not take over "good" air or vice versa. Yes, some forms of air pollution can travel to other places. Near-surface pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, can be lofted to high altitudes where strong winds can transport high concentrations across oceans to other continents. However, greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, are responsible for climate change. These greenhouse gasses accumulate in the Earth’s atmosphere on a global scale as a result of human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, which traps heat and warms the entire planet. Also, to suggest curbing pollutants from its local source is pointless because some other locality's pollutants will take over is missing the point. These harmful air pollutants affect local residents the most. Read more about the harmful effects of air pollution here, here and here.
“Each of these gases can remain in the atmosphere for different amounts of time, ranging from a few years to thousands of years,” the Environmental Protection Agency has explained. “All of these gases remain in the atmosphere long enough to become well mixed, meaning that the amount that is measured in the atmosphere is roughly the same all over the world, regardless of the source of the emissions.”
“There can be enhanced concentrations near point sources and urban areas, but the levels of atmospheric CO2 over the US aren’t drastically different than over China,” Davis said in an email, referring to carbon dioxide. He noted that in April 2020, carbon dioxide levels over China and the U.S were within three to four parts per million of each other.
In other words, there is no American “good air” or Chinese “bad air.” When it comes to greenhouse gases, everyone ultimately shares the “air” — and the concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is increasing. This is raising the global average temperature, which is also causing other effects, such as sea level rise, ice melt and more extreme weather.