Why Beijing suffers from dense smog

Earlier this week, dense smog enveloped the capital of China, turning skyscrapers into dark silhouettes, and clean air into a yellowish mist. The Chas Pope channel mounted a visual and rather creepy time-lapse, demonstrating how the veil covers the city:

Smoky shroud covered Beijing and another 24 cities in China, as a result of which the authorities assigned the red code “dense fog” to the incident - the highest degree of threat. In recent years, the air quality in Beijing has fallen so much that many schools were simply closed, and farmers got a real panic because the plants stopped receiving the necessary doses of sunlight. Face masks became commonplace for residents of the metropolis, and the clear sky was often seen only on the huge screens of banners installed throughout the city.

But where did such a mass of dirty air come from? Smog in China arises from a person’s fault: it is promoted by both emissions from industrial production and transport (most often the consequences of this are seen in the winter, when a sharp drop in temperature leads to increased demand for electricity), and, for example, coal burning. The latter is associated with the largest number of deaths as a result of poisoning by polluted air, which in 2013 killed 366, 000 people.

Smog is caused by tiny but solid particles in the air. They can impair visibility and make breathing difficult, cause acid rain that kills plants, and discolor paint on buildings. However, the most important problem is what happens when these particles enter the human body. Particles larger than 10 microns are of most interest to physicians and researchers - even such crumbs can lead to exacerbation of asthma, damage to the lungs and even cause a heart attack. For those who already have pathologies and diseases associated with the cardiovascular or respiratory system, an attempt to inhale could turn into a tragedy.

Beijing’s troubles are aggravated by its geographical position. Beijing borders on the mountains of Xishan and Yangshan. Because of this, when the pressure rises, there is no movement of air masses in the city, since they cannot overcome the mountain ranges. Therefore, the air stagnates, becoming more and more dirty and dangerous to health day after day.

Now China is trying to solve this problem by all means. For example, the government imposed restrictions on driving cars, but it is clear to everyone that this is only a temporary measure. This week, authorities announced that they would spend about $ 30 billion to develop renewable energy projects, that is, solar and wind generators. Be that as it may, it will be a long way: today China is the world's largest consumer of coal, and it is not possible to quickly reorient such a powerful economic and production machine.

But there is reason for optimism. An example for Beijing is Los Angeles, where a similar geographical and industrial situation was defeated by strict standards and the proper regulation of the economy, as a result of which over the past decades the level of smog there has been reduced to completely insignificant, and the city residents again saw a clear sky. It is hoped that the residents of Beijing will one day be able to leave the house without masks and inhale clean air with full chest.


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