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Beijing on a Bad Day & Beijing on a Good Day

Published on January 24, 2013 by Tycho de Feijter

Beijing on a Bad Day

This is the difference between Beijing on a bad day and Beijing on a good day. I took the pictures at exactly the same place at exactly 8 in the morning. Above the situation yesterday when the density of PM2.5, particles in the air that can kill you, came close to 500 again. Picture below is from this morning when a hard northern wind finally blew the worst pollution away.

Beijing on a Good Day

The dirt has many reasons; the winter is very cold this year so more  energy is used for heating. In a strange contradiction the cold winds from the north that normally keep the air over Beijing clean in winter are very few this year.

Then there are thousands of heavy polluting factories close to the city or even inside the city. Many Beijing households still use coal for heating, which makes the air even dirtier when there is no wind.

And of course, there are the cars. More than 5 million vehicles on the roads every day, including dirty old buses, ramshackle trucks and black-air-spitting three wheelers. Most of the dirtiest vehicles are banned from the center but outside the Fourth Ring Road it is still a complete mess.

Beijing residents are getting sick to their lungs by the millions and demand action from the government. New measures have been announced and as expected the government goes for the passenger cars first. An easy and popular target, but certainly not the most important cause of the many bad days we have seen and the many that are still to come.

4 comments

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  1. laowei- January 24, 2013 Reply

    When you compare the pollution with other big cities in this world Beijing is not that bad! Secondly pollution/air quality is not only PM2.5 If you like to say something about look at all figures.
    As last 3 notes:
    Ever night 1000ends of sand trucks drive with no top cover in the city and who care?
    Every day in Beijing 100derts of people die of smoking and who care?
    With Chinese New year the pollution in 15 day’s firework is more than the whole pollution of the City in 100 years, who care?

  2. Vic- January 25, 2013 Reply

    I’ve been all over the world, going back many years. Please excuse me, I don’t want to be rude, but the truth is, that China today has some of the worst polluted cities in the world. That is the sacrifice for industrial expansion. If you have real, effective pollution controls, then products cost more to produce, and the nations’ GDP tapers off. See, it’s all about money! And this game sacrifices huiman health in the name of profits and power. The West has been through this years and years earlier than China, and has made many advancements. That’s partly why Western products cost more to produce now. If not for the rape of the earth, and hoardes of cheap labor, China would not have the competitive advantage that it has right now in world markets. Bejing, Shanhai, Shenyang, these cities and others have very bad air quality. The only comparable city in my recent travels is Cairo. When I took off from the airport at Cairo, I could barely see the 3 pyramids in Giza, through the haze. They are very backwards, and their people live in filthy air quality. In contrast, even Los Angles has cleaner air, better smelling, clearer skies. Don’t vainly imgaine that Chinas’ major cities are no worse than other major cities! The truth is closer to this: That China has some of the worst polluted cities in the world.

  3. Vic- January 25, 2013 Reply

    The good news is, that Chinese poeple are recognizing the health risk associated with pollution, and the Chinese government is talking about doing something about it. Ther eis also a no-smoking initiative going on in China, and all around the world now. In California, I don’t have to smell filthy cigarette smell anymore, in restaurants, bars, and public places. I miss this, when I travel. California is very progressive, defending the rights of humanity and health. But this is also a two-edged sword, because every move to improve life and health raises the cost of doing business. Some businesses even move out of Los Angeles, and go to Nevada, Utah, etc, to escape the regulatory environment. The fact of the matter is, that the industrial revolution is like a fire racing over the Earth- It always needs new countries to consume. In fact, it is not sustainable. It needs new “victims”, which is why it is moving to the 3rd world now.

  4. laowei- January 25, 2013 Reply

    ” The truth is closer to this: That China has some of the worst polluted cities in the world.”

    Dear Vic, I do not think you are rude, but when you came 30 years ago in the winter in China the pollution where worse than now! Even 10 years ago Beijing pollution, where worse than now. Burning cool was the big pollution at that time, sins the last 10 years a lot have changed, just as you say it’s a long process.
    Like smoking nowadays you have many restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai it’s not allow to smoke! And they people also obey it!
    Thinks take time, also in China.

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