Thursday, September 30, 2010

Red China

I saw a disturbing map the other day from a report on China's pollution from the Wall Street Journal (h/t to @danharris):

Here's an explanation of the map:
To get a sense of how China’s air quality compares with the rest of the world, there’s a new map of global air-particulate pollution from Canadian scientists using National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite data. The verdict: It doesn’t look good.


It’s important to note that the data used for this map are derived from 2001 to 2006. But as The Wall Street Journal noted in July, authorities affirmed that China’s air quality continues to get worse, not better.

According to the NASA post, health officials say fine particulates can get past the body’s hair-like cilia defenses, penetrate the lungs and blood, and lead to chronic diseases, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and bronchitis.

Read the Whole Article
This isn't too surprising. It's still disturbing though.

The biggest drawback of living in Xi'an is its air. It's horrific. The mountains in the (not-too-far) distance cannot even be seen because of the omnipotent smog. When I lived there and was outside for too long on particularly gray days, the air made me feel like I was getting strep throat. When I used to ride my bike, I would wear a cloth facemask in a futile attempt at limiting the number of harmful particulates entering the membranes of my body.

There are plenty of things I miss about China and life in Xi'an. They greyness there isn't one of them. The fiery sunsets of the great plains are a new-found appreciation I've discovered upon coming back to the US.


Sino-Gist said...

Hence why its so important that China invests in new 'cleaner' technologies. I agree though- it is worrying data...

Mark said...

Agree on cleaner technologies. From a lot of things I'm reading, it sounds like China is investing a lot in renewable energy and green machinery. Way more than the US is.

China just has so much coal at their disposal though. I think it's going to be hard for them to get away from using all of that black energy that's still under ground.

Sino-Gist said...

I blogged about this about a week ago: The temptation to use that coal will still be too strong, especially as its a cheap way to provide energy. As with many aspects of governments' policy, the short-term need will often take priority over the long-term effect.

Ty Hism said...

China has no choice but to rely on black energy, not because it is adequate, but because it is cheap to support over 1 billion population. One finds it just too hard to look far ahead at the cost of short-term benefit, China is no exception.

Let's see how green energy policy by government plays out.

Lior Paritzky said...

Hi Mark,

This is indeed disturbing. I hope that in the near future things will get better before they get worse. There are many foreigners who are living in these areas who are simply not aware that this is what they breathe.

Thanks for sharing this useful information.