Beijing Experienced Worst Air Pollution of the Year
By admin December 3, 2015

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As China’s president attends the international climate conference in Paris (COP21), Beijing recorded its worst air pollution of the year this past Monday and Tuesday. The smog was so heavy that people can barely see anything from a block away.

The tiny poisonous PM 2.5 particles reached as high as 600+ micrograms per cubic meter through Beijing, and the number leveled up to the 900s in some neighborhood of the capital. This was over 35 times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard safety levels of 25. Authorities of Beijing have warned of “severe pollution” by triggering the orange alert, and advised 20 million city inhabitants to stay indoors. Many parents brought their children to hospitals because they were suffering from breathing ailments due to the heavy smog. And parents, as well as grandparents, believe that the severe air pollution has made kids more vulnerable to illness, such as throat infections and flu.

Three decades of explosive economic growth led to the construction of hundreds of coal-fired power plants along with an increasing number of automobile ownership resulting in China facing a huge environmental challenge.  Coal burning is one of the major causes of air pollution, along with the heightened use of power during the winter that is necessary to support heating systems in the northern cities. Government officials in Beijing have vowed to clean up the foul air, and emission standards have been tightened up nationally. Along with that, the country is investing in solar, wind and other renewable green energy. Although the air pollution on Monday and Tuesday were extremely hazardous, people, who live in Beijing for many years, think the overall quality of air is cleaner, relatively speaking, than in 2014. However, China is still very dependent on coal for more than 60 percent of its power.

The citizens of Beijing were able to see a blue sky again on Wednesday when a strong cold air blew over the city from the northern part of the country, but the air pollution problem has not yet been solved. As the Chinese President said in Paris on Monday, “tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind.” In accordance with that, it will be necessary for China to take their environmental challenges more seriously and in a more urgent manner, for both long-term sustainable development within China and the world, as well as for the health of its citizens.


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