Residents in Beijing, China, were told to stay indoors and wear masks due to the dangerous smog that engulfed much of the city since Monday. The National Meteorology Center issued an “orange” warning, marking the first time the second-highest level of their alert system has been raised.
Heavy smog often covers the large city, and has continued to worsen over the past couple of years. The air pollution increased over the weekend, making it almost unbearable for people to venture outside. According to the Xinhua News Agency, visibility was fewer than 50 meters, causing the closing of numerous expressways.
Dangerous particulate concentration reached 537, way beyond the maximum of 500 on Beijing’s air quality index. The US embassy cautioned that at such a high level, the smog may cause serious health problems to those exposed.
The World Health Organization suggests avoiding daily exposure to PM2.5, fine particulates above 25. The U.S. Embassy monitored the city’s pollution, and stated that over the past month, the air quality index has exceeded 150 on 25 of the 30 days.
China’s ever-increasing economic growth is a large contributing factor to Beijing’s air pollution. Factories in or near the city have amplified their production rate, which has positive effects for the economy but negative results for the quality of the air. Due to the persistent smog problems, the emission standards were raised although the higher standards still have not solved the issue.
One hundred-forty seven industrial companies have lessened or temporarily suspended production in order to battle Beijing’s toxic air concern.
Beijing’s residents have demanded that the government respond to the smog issue, even prompting one man to sue the city of Shijiazhuang for not solving the problem. Li Guixin filed an objection with the district court, demanding compensation and that the environmental department becomes more active in mending the polluted air. Guixin went on to say that every citizen is a victim and that the residents have suffered from health as well as financial losses because of the dangerous smog.
Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun stated at a NPC meeting last month that the city will allot 760 billion Yuan to improving the quality of the air by 2017. This dollar amount will contribute to creating clean factories as well as electric motor vehicles in order to decrease the pollution and dangerous smog that surrounds Beijing. Ironically, China is one of the world’s top producers of “green energy” technology but currently exports a large majority of these products.
Additional ideas to eradicate the smog pollution have been anticipated, such as cloud seeding, a giant “vacuum cleaner,” and sprinklers mounted at the tops of skyscrapers. The inventors of these solutions suggest that the smog will either be trapped or washed away.
Most schools in Beijing have been encouraged to keep their students indoors until the air pollution clears. On the other hand, The International School of Beijing has developed two $5 million domes that completely enclose its outdoor areas, permitting students to exercise and play all year despite how polluted the air is outside.
Regardless of the anticipated “solutions” to this ever-mounting dangerous smog problem, Beijing needs to take an active stance in mending the air pollution in order for its residents and the city’s financial system to thrive.
By Amy Nelson