Air Pollution is all at all time high on the Asian Continent. China has reached record-breaking levels of air pollution that the monitoring equipment can no longer keep track. In worse news, Greenpeace reports that India has levels are 5x worse than China. It appears while China’s pollution problem is slowly improving, India’s is getting worse.
How did poor air quality manifest in China in the first place? Greenpeace states the following.
“First of all, the north of China burns coal for heat during winter, leading to more pollution. On top of that, between Thursday and Saturday last week, an inversion layer formed [an atmospheric layer which prevents pollution dispersing], meaning pollution from Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei accumulated close to the ground.”
Air Pollution is affecting the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei. These cities share a region in northern China where the air pollution is the worst. With central Chinese city Wuhan, and southern city Nanjing also suffering from poor air quality, that leaves a large portion of the country covered in smog.
China Dialogue states there are a few factors responsible for the spike in air pollution in China. One is that China has a booming coal industry, which has operated heavily in Hebei, in addition to air pollution from Mongolia blowing into China’s atmosphere. Coal production helped China’s economy open up a bit, but the Chinese weren’t prepared for just how fast things would grow. Skyscrapers sprung up around the country like weeds, and productivity was at an all time high, but no one seemed to keep mind that how production would affect the country and its air quality in the long run.
The air pollution problem has has seen some small, slow improvement but not by much. The Chinese government is having trouble of getting air pollution under control. According to BBC News, the Chinese government does fine companies that go overboard on air pollution, but these companies are finding it cheaper to pay these small fines than to completely overhaul their business practices. However, the Chinese government isn’t giving up as they are looking for other avenues to combat air pollution. One method that might take on a capitalistic approach.
“We have been exploring in the U.S. Under that system, companies would receive pollution credits that they could trade with other companies. If a company wanted to continue polluting, they would simply need to buy enough credits.”
Hitting the financial heart of polluting companies doesn’t stop the problem, but can keep companies on a leash and cap the amount of pollutants they emit into the atmosphere. The important thing is at least they acknowledge there is a problem, which unfortunately may get worse before it gets better, as the Guardian reports Beijing recently issued its first emergency red alert. The air is so bad that the local government has closed schools, factories, and have ordered people to only leave home when absolutely necessary.
Unfortunately, air pollution isn’t just affecting China. Greenpeace states that India is now the world’s worst when it comes to air pollution. The average India citizen is exposed to 5x as much air pollution as the average Chinese citizen. Public outrage is just now reaching fever-pitch in India, which put pressure on their government to do something about it. They seem to have responded a lot quicker on the issue than the Chinese government by immediately instituting an alternate day driving plan to curb air pollution. It’s not a permanent fix, but it’s a start.
The Greenpeace study suggests that India put together a plan of action to combat their air pollution problem as soon as possible. should put in place a pollution action plan. This plan should include one that covers the most affected parts of the county, in addition to enforcing some type of coal compliance laws for companies that don’t moderate their coal consumption.
[Photo by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images]