Posted by on January 3, 2017 12:33 am
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Categories: air pollution Air pollution in China Asia Beijing China Disaster Economy Environment Geography of Asia Global Economy Independent cities North China Plain northern China pollution Reuters Smog South China Tianjin World Health Organization Xinhua

The following dramatic time-lapse video, shows a wall of toxic smog rolling into Beijing over a 20-minute period collapsed into a 10 second video; it gives a glimpse of the pollution problem in China’s capital city. Chas Pope, a British engineering consultant working in Beijing, shot the video.

An air-quality index released by China’s municipal environmental protection bureau, which measures potentially hazardous particles in the air, hit 482 on Sunday, almost touching the 500 mark where the scale tops out, and far beyond the point deemed hazardous to health, according to the South China Morning Post.

“Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors,” a warning accompanying the reading warns. “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low.”

As a result of the heavy smog to hit much of northern China on Sunday, hundreds of flights were canceled and highways shut, disrupting the first day of the New Year holiday. The latest smog incident to hit Beijing, and which forced local authorities to extend an “orange alert” – the second highest level for air pollution until Jan. 4 – followed a similar hazardous smog alert in mid-December, leading authorities to order hundreds of factories to close and to restrict motorists to cut emissions.

The latest bout of air pollution began on Friday and is expected to persist until Thursday, although it will ease slightly on Monday, the last day of the New Year holiday according to ABC.

In Beijing, 126 flights were canceled at the city’s main airport and all buses from there to neighboring cities suspended, state news agency Xinhua said.

Average concentrations of small breathable particles known as PM2.5 were higher than 500 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing – 50 times higher than World Health Organization recommendations.

In Tianjin, Beijing’s next door metropolis, the smog was not as serious but visibility much worse, with more than 300 flights canceled at Tianjin airport and conditions not expected to improve in the near term, the city government said. Xinhua said highways into and out of the city were also closed.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province that surrounds most of Beijing, about two dozen flights were canceled and eight flights diverted to other airports because of the smog, the People’s Daily said on its website.

A total of 24 Chinese cities have issued red alerts for the current round of pollution, which mandate measures like limiting car usage and closing factories, while 21 have issued orange alerts, including Beijing and Tianjin.

As Reuters notes, Pollution alerts are common in northern China, especially during winter when energy demand, much of it met by coal, soars. The country’s northern provinces mostly rely on the burning of hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal each year for heating during northern China’s bitterly cold winters.

China began a “war on pollution” in 2014 amid concerns its heavy industrial past was tarnishing its global reputation and holding back its future development, but it has struggled to effectively tackle the problem.

Unfortunately for China’s residents, the “war” is lost every time Chinese production goes into overdrive, forcing the government to order manufacturing to halt output, leading to an economic slowdown, and forcing a sharp restart several weeks to months later, usually as a result of more trillions in credit injections, which then send the credit impulse propagating around the globe.

In other words, the global economy is now held hostage by the level of toxic particullate matter in northern China: any time this goes off the chart, manufacturing in China is halted, leading to significant downstream effects around the entire world.

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