Wednesday, January 16, 2013

China's Pollution

Satellite image of Beijing and surrounding area. Source

It has long been known that China has a pollution problem, but the severity of that problem may be greater than most people ever realized. Take this picture, for example. Taken on Monday, China's capital is obscured from sight by a heavy fog of pollution.
This new wave of pollution has sparked news stories everywhere. The pollution levels spiked on Saturday, but the wave is expected to last through today. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Beijing when this picture was taken was 341, and the peak AQI was 775. For reference, an AQI of 300 is considered dangerous for all humans. In comparison, the worst city in the United States only suffers from an AQI of 112. 
NPR has a few pictures that really highlight this problem.

Here is a picture of Beijing before this wave of pollution:

And again, here is the picture from Monday:

Here is a before and after picture of the skyline in Beijing:

If this problem weren't so awful, I'd say it was almost comical. Even though Beijing is the worst example of this air pollution, it is not an isolated problem. Air quality around the world is progressively getting worse due to industry and transportation. Steps have been and are being taken across the world to fix our climate problem, but these steps are slow and the problem is still getting worse.
I still have hope that we'll find some way "save the world".

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