Top 10 Polluted Cities

A brand-new list of the world's most polluted places holds few surprises: Chernobyl is number one, followed by a slew of Russian, Indian and Chinese cities. 

  1. Chernobyl, Ukraine
  2. 2. Dzerzhinsk, Russia
  3. Haina, Dominican Republic
  4. Kabwe, Zambia
  5. La Oroya, Peru
  6. Linfen, China
  7. Mailuu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan
  8. Norilsk, Russia
  9. Ranipet, India
  10. Rudnaya Pristan, Russia

It's great that there are no North American cities on the list, but it also poses a question: even if the United States does get its emissions under control, will it even matter in the light of pollution from rapidly industrializing nations like China?

The answer is yes, because China plans to abide by the Kyoto protocols, as their vice-chairman of development told the World Economic Forum this weekend. An Indian representative also vowed to cut emissions, although he said his country is turning more and more to nuclear power to do so.

The attitude all around at the international meeting was that climate change is simply too disastrous—and too expensive—to ignore. "Waiting and seeing because one element or another is not certain is not a valid answer," said the CEO of a major Swiss reinsurance and capital management company. "No shareholders would tolerate this in business. Why should the people tolerate it from us?"

Get the latest Science stories in your inbox.