Dangerous air quality ratings in China this week have led to thousands of hospitalizations, a few temporary construction and factory shutdowns in Beijing and a rare display by the Chinese media of questioning what can be done about the historic levels of smog.
One Chinese newspaper, NPR reported, commented in an editorial: “The air quality in big cities could have been better had more attention been paid to the density of high rises, had more trees been planted in proportion to the number of residential areas, and had the number of cars been strictly controlled.”
The air quality rating, according to a Twitter feed run by the US embassy in China, reported that the air quality in Beijing hit a 755 on the Air Quality Index, which many observers noted to the New York Times makes all of the city seem like an “airport smoking lounge”. (Anything above a 300 in the AQI is considered dangerous.
But could the Chinese government really be working to find a solution? As another Chinese newspaper put it, “Seventy percent of global iron and steel, and about half of the world’s cement is produced in China. Against this backdrop, it is impossible for China to be as clean as the West.”
So what can be done? We’d start with some clean skyscrapers before air pollution sends everyone to the hospital … and damages residents’ brains. After all, even in the name of progress, pollution can cost trillions of dollars.
To see pictures of Beijing today and more about the smog problems click here.
[Photo by Flickr user ribarnica]