This week in China heavy smog blanketed the city Harbin in the Heilongjiang province closing down schools and shutting down the city’s airport. Smog is measured and recorded on an air quality index with a level of 300 being considered harmful towards one’s health. Severe areas of Harbin measured in at around 1000 on said index. Local news agencies blamed the precipitation of this heavy layer of smog on the current temperature; due to the 11 million residents of Harbin turning their air conditioners on. Residents were forced to leave their homes with masks on due to the hazardous air quality. Visibility was also cut down to 10 meters causing a nightmare for those driving.
China, the manufacturer for the world, experiences days of heavy smog annually. Last year Beijing experienced a day of heavy smog coverage, with some areas measuring in the 900 range on the air quality index. This is a systemic problem for the people of China; a physical manifestation of the environmental degradation their manufacturing base and their consumption weigh on the environment. In embracing the “western” notion of rapid economic growth and increased consumption they have caused these massive clouds of carbon particles to lay their goliaths of bodies down on their cramped cities.
China, with their authoritarian forward-thinking government, has made strides to become more responsible in relation to the environment. With investments being made into the future China’s situation with the environment is much more desirable than the one currently staring America down in the next century. The problem of smog relates to the density of people in China’s cities, both like Harbin and Beijing, and their output of carbon pollutants from car exhausts and factory emissions. While China is making attempts at becoming “greener” (as much as I deplore that term) they still have a long way to go before these days of smog are a thing of the past.