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These Six Wind Corridors Will Blow All of Beijing’s Smog Away

Posted: 11/24/2014 4:59 pm

beijing wind corridors air pollution smogForget, you know, reducing coal burning or limiting traffic, Beijing has found another way to get rid of smoggy days: wind corridors. The city is now building six pathways for bad air to be pushed out of the city, thus returning the capital to glorious “APEC Blue“.

Some of the wind corridors have been identified as the botanical gardens, Kunming Lake, Kunyu River, Yuyuan Spring, and Qiansanmen, as noted on the map above.

Wind corridors are passages that allow for wind to sweep through a city by removing obstacles that would block it.

READ: Beijing Says New Wind Corridors May Finally Solve The City’s Notorious Pollution Problem

The wind corridors on the outskirts of the city will “attract” wind, which will help blow the smog somewhere else. 

But not everybody is optimistic. Environmental protection expert Peng Yingdeng notes that the preliminary plans for wind corridors are “too perfect”, and explains the difficulty in implementing them:

The problem mainly comes in changes that are made while trying to implement this plan. It’s not uncommon for [needs of] the city’s ecology to give way to economic development.

The use of wind corridors is a popular idea that other Chinese cities are also looking to implement. Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing, Zhuzhou, Guiyang, Shaoxing, and Fuzhou are all researching the use of wind corridors.

Plans for wind corridors in Tianjin have not yet been confirmed. Tianjin lies south-east of Beijing, the same place many of these wind corridors are pointing.


Photo: Sohu News


Guangdong Vows to Clean Up the Air

Posted: 11/21/2014 2:00 pm

smog guangdong air pollutionWith the exception of Guangzhou, the Pearl River Delta has some of the cleanest air in China, and it’s about to get even better as strict air quality regulations have been announced for 2017 through the “Guangdong Provincial Responsible Clean Air Verification Act”.

To ensure compliance, local officials will be fined and held accountable if the regulations are not met. For clarity, the following criteria must be met to be in compliance with the new regulations:

  • PM 2.5 2.5 levels in 2017 must be same as those in 2012;
  • Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan must reduce their PM 2.5 levels by 20 percent;
  • Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing must reduce their PM 2.5 emissions by 15 percent
  • Zhuhai and Huizhou must both have an annual PM 2.5 level of 35 milligram per square meter

Amid plans for a PRD mega-city, talk of reforming hukou restrictions upon migrant workers, and the strengthening of Guangdong factories through robotization, we’re waiting to see if the province’s growing urbanization will have an impact upon its air quality.



Ignore the Smog Beijingers, City Says “APEC Blue” Could Become The Norm

Posted: 11/20/2014 3:21 pm

apec blue pollution air smogThis year’s APEC summit saw host city Beijing boasting beautiful blue skies that were a change from the smog that usually hounds the nation’s capital. And despite the extreme measures required to reach this goal, it appears “APEC blue” is something that Beijing officials want to institute as a long-term policy while the city is currently under yet another smog attack.

This mechanism will remain in place over a long time after the conference is over,” Zhang Dawei, a director with the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center, said.

Among the temporary measures used to improve Beijing’s air quality during the APEC conference was reducing carbon emissions by limiting vehicle traffic. This is now being considered as a permanent remedy to the city’s notoriously polluted skies. Local officials are even considering charging drivers a “congestion tax”.

Beijing’s plan is to continue to introduce policies aimed at reducing the local PM 2.5 level to 60 by 2017. That is ambitious, as another report suggests Beijing’s air quality will only begin to improve in 30 years.

The Beijing Environmental Statistics Bureau reports PM 2.5 levels during the 11 days of the APEC dropped 30 percent, and were the lowest such levels recorded this year.

Currently, Beijing has an AQI level of 348, and is under a yellow warning alert.

apec blue pollution air smogRelated:

Photo: People’s Daily


Herculean Effort to Clean Beijing’s Air May Be in Vain as Pollution Forecasted

Posted: 11/8/2014 11:28 am

apec ball buildingA tremendous effort has been made to clean up the air around Beijing in advance of the APEC summit. The “war on air pollution” is the largest mobilization of resources to improve air quality since the Olympic Games in 2008, 2010 Shanghai Expo and this year’s Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

However, while the sky might be “APEC Blue” right now, it looks like even Beijing’s herculean efforts won’t be enough to let the sun shine through. Heavy pollution is forecast for the region around Beijing from November 8 to 11, which means Beijing might lose face in front of foreign guests. That means somebody must be punished.

That indeed will happen as 24 Shijiazhuang officials will apparently face consequences for failing in their promise to make Beijing’s air quality comply with regulations for APEC. Another five people working for ‘problematic companies’ (which we think are companies that add to pollution) have been detained and fined RMB 350,000.

The efforts to reduce emissions and increase air quality have involved a number of provinces including Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, and Henan. Tianjin has also been doing everything it can.

The New York Times outlines some of the extreme measures being taken to cut down on pollution:

Thousands of factories have closed and thousands more have been ordered to reduce emissions by 30 percent. Around Beijing, in an area nearly the size of California, tens of millions of people in 17 major cities can drive only on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates end in an odd or even number. Trucks carrying goods can enter Beijing only between midnight and 3 a.m., affecting deliveries of supplies like furniture and milk.

Gas stations have been barred from selling gas in canisters, and some have been shut entirely, though these measures may be aimed more to discourage the making of firebombs than to clear the air.

The government has also tried to shed some of the city’s 21 million people, declaring an APEC Golden Week, a six-day vacation modeled on the Golden Week public officials get each year around National Day in early October. Public schools have been closed, work has been halted on construction sites, and public services such as issuing marriage licenses and passports have been suspended.

Newlyweds may not set off firecrackers, a common feature of a wedding celebration. Hospitals have closed nonessential departments and are turning away patients with nonemergency ailments.

All mining in Hebei is reported to have stopped as well, and police will investigate any reports of people burning their trash.

Photo: Caijing


Why People Decided to Run the Beijing Marathon Despite Heavy Pollution

Posted: 10/30/2014 1:09 pm

beijing smog marathon air pollution masksThis year’s Beijing marathon made headlines because it took place amid some of the city’s worst pollution. Many of the runners wore face masks to try to protect them from the smog.

Because of the health risks associated with air pollution and microscopic particulate matter, people are urged to refrain from vigorous physical activity on polluted days. The race organizing committee posted this warning a day before the race:

Participants in the race should only run if they feel capable of doing so. If there is anything wrong at any point, please stop running the race immediately.

And yet, despite the risks, they came. Southern Weekend reported of the 30,000 people who signed up, 26,000 showed up on race day. However, only 15,000 completed the course, which started at Tiananmen Square and wrapped up near the Bird’s Nest in northern Beijing.

Some runners said their throats felt “sticky” during the race. Professor Pan Xiaochuan of the Beijing University Medical Department Public Health Academy explained:

The sticky feeling is from the lungs working harder and the blood circulating faster due to exercising. At this same time, the body is inhaling many small (air pollution) particles and leading to this situation. The (health) risk is obviously higher.


running smog poll air pollution

When asked “Do you jog when there is smog?” 88.33 percent said “no”.

The high turnout was startling, consider a poll done by Southern Weekend showed 88 percent of runners said they will not go jogging if there is any smog.

running smog poll air pollution

When asked “Would you quit running the Beijing marathon this year due to smog?”, 60.71 percent of recent said “no”.

So why did they do it? Abe Yoshiharu from Tokyo said he felt he couldn’t quit the race because he felt he would let his country down. Nicole Kennedy from New York said she couldn’t give up because of what it means to give up a challenge in life. Yang Jin, who ran but eventually decided to pull out of the race, wanted to give the award for running the marathon to his baby. Liu Hexun served as a pacesetter, and said she couldn’t quit if she wanted.

Wang Heng said he has a burning desire to run. If smog hangs around for several days, he says it starts to feel “like I’ve been trapped…  it’s like I haven’t bathed.” Wang first decided to skip the race when he saw the AQI had exceeded 400, but eventually ran because he was “compelled by excitement”.

beijing smog marathon air pollution masks

Wang wore a 9002V model mask which he soon discarded because it was uncomfortable. Many others did the same, discovering that running while wearing a face mask isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Tao Shaoming, a long-distance running coach, explains:

Good quality masks are not suitable for running as it’s hard enough to walk in them and breathe at the same time.

At the halfway point, runners said they didn’t feel as though the smog was affecting their performance. Ambulances along the route said they hadn’t received any cases of patients with breathing problems.

beijing smog marathon air pollution masksBut about half of all runners didn’t make it to the finish line, chief among those being the Kenyan runner who quit the race at the half-way point after leading for 12 miles.

Beijing runners live by the slogan “you’ll only understand if you run”, but it looks like fewer will be taking the slogan to heart. After the smoggy marathon, many have vowed never again to run the Beijing marathon if it’s polluted.

When the race finished at 2pm, the AQI finally started to come down. The joke on social media was that the air was cleaner thanks to the thousands of runners working as a human air filter.

Photos: Wexin, Southern Daily


Fewer Tourists Coming to China, Pollution Cited as a Major Concern

Posted: 10/22/2014 3:30 pm

great wall smog air pollutionChina’s air pollution is the top reason why fewer tourists are coming to China, according to a national tourism body. Dai Bin, director of China Tourism Research Institution, hopes to waive visa requirements in order to make it easier for people to visit the country, but tackling pollution may take a lot longer to resolve.

In 2013, 129 million tourists visited China, a year-on-year drop of 2.51 percent. There were 56 million overnight visitors last year, also down 3.53 percent. China has the fourth-highest number of tourists in the world after France, the USA and Spain.

China’s tourist numbers are still huge partly because it considers visitors from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as part of the figures. Hong Kong sends the most tourists to the country (59.56 percent), Macau is second at 16.07 percent, with Taiwan following at 4 percent.

Tourists that come from “foreign” countries makes up 20.37 percent of the annual total, or only 26.3 million tourists in 2013. South Korea, Japan, Russia and the USA send the most visitors.


Photo: Xinhuanet


[Photos] Beijing Smog Turns Capital into a Ghost Town

Posted: 10/20/2014 5:23 pm

beijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionBeijing’s air pollution problems continue as another yellow smog alert was issued today after a weekend of heavy air pollution.

READ: Marathoners in Beijing Sport Masks as They Run Through Heavy Pollution

As we’ve shown you earlier, Beijing’s smog is so severe that it makes the city’s skyline disappear when looking out a window. Visibility is at 500 meters or less.

beijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionHowever, despite the grey moonscape motif, Beijingers continue to go about their daily lives. Here’s a snapshot of what life is like in Beijing today.

beijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollutionbeijing smog ghost town haze air pollution


Photos: Evening Law Report, Weibo (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)


Beijing’s Sky is Clear Today, But Look at How Bad It Got Last Week

Posted: 10/13/2014 10:00 am

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionThe air quality of Beijing was terrible last week. The smog reduced visibility throughout China’s northeast. That sounds bad, but a bunch of hyperbole and numbers may not illustrate how bad it really was. To help us understand, Weibo users in Beijing have posted pictures taken from their own windows of a skyline that disappeared, as compiled here.

Here, two Weibo users post, “Good morning, Beijing” (below):

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionThis Weibo user wonders, “Beijing, where have you gone?”:

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionAnother user said, “Zero visibility! Living life in hell. With this kind of weather, the entire city should go on vacation.”

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionThis Weibo user included a screenshot of PM 2.5 levels taken throughout Beijing, and said, “Yet another day of being outdoors. Lungs, I apologize to you/”

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionThe People’s Daily described the airpocalypse like this: “This writer drew open the curtains and took a picture this morning, and this is the result. Absolutely no Photoshopping. Fellow Beijingers, take it easy out there, be careful when driving!”

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionSome Weibo users from other parts of China have taken the smog attack as an opportunity to troll others, like this user who posted a clear blue sky and said, “What upsets other people is to send pictures of food and drink at midnight, send a picture of a dog and a stove during a chilly night, and now it’s to send a picture of a blue sky.”

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionOr like this Guangzhou user who posted another beautiful sky and said, “These are the blue skies and white clouds appearing over Guangzhou Airport Road at this moment. Please don’t let this give my “comrades” any false hopes. No need to thank me!”

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionEven if you’re of the opinion that the hazardous air is nothing more than “fog and dust” as insinuated by the term used in the Chinese media, it resulted in the closure of highways and implementation of traffic control. Affected areas included Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin, Henan, Liaoning, Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei, and Anhui.

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionThe increased risk to drivers is reflected by this user who said, “Can’t see anything when going to work in the morning. When turning a corner, I directly drove into the path of oncoming traffic, and almost got into a number of accidents…”

Perhaps you need a framing device to put the bad air into context? Try these photos:

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollution

These two pictures were apparently taken a day apart:

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionAnd even as some Beijingers continue to refuse to wear protective face masks, the proof of Beijing’s terrible smog is as easy to see. So if you’re looking for a new shade of grey to tile your bathroom with, here are more pictures of Beijing’s skyline (or lack thereof):

smog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollutionsmog beijing airpocalypse air pollution


Photos: Yangcheng Evening Report Golden Lamb Network, CCTVSouthern Capital Report, Weibo


Photos Show Thick, Orange, Oppressive Air Smothering Beijing Today

Posted: 10/9/2014 2:49 pm

beijing smog orange alert haze air pollution

Smog isn’t new to the Chinese capital, but that doesn’t mean people have gotten used to it. The city has once again been blanked with thick, smokey air that one can almost taste, leading the local government to issue an orange smog alert this morning. The PM 2.5 rating stood at 356 at the time, but has since increased to more than 400, which is hazardous according to the US Embassy.

beijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionThere’s some bad news for people in the capital, too: this smog isn’t going away soon. It is likely to continue until Saturday, when a cold front is expected to blow the pollution away. Until then, the bad air is also affecting Tianjin, Shandong, Henan, Shanxi, and Hebei.

As seen the pictures below, the air in Beijing right now is terrible. You can’t see the sun. You can’t see the horizon. You can barely see the building down the street.

beijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionAs bad as it is, Beijing’s frequent polluted air means people have gotten used to it. The photos don’t show that a number of Beijing residents are continuing with their daily tasks – outside – without masks.

beijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionNot long ago, the US Embassy in Beijing was able to raise awareness of Beijing’s air quality by broadcasting PM 2.5 measurements on a daily basis. The thinking was if Beijingers were aware of the danger in the air, perhaps it would result in change. That proved to be wishful thinking, though, as Beijingers have all the information they need about air quality but many choose to ignore the warnings.

Here are more photos of Beijing’s air quality:

beijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollutionbeijing smog orange alert haze air pollution


Photos: People’s Daily OnlineCaijing, Weibo (2, 3), CCTV


Beijing to Ban Coal Use In Urban Districts by 2020

Posted: 08/6/2014 1:20 pm

beijing coal power plantBeijing is set to tackle the scourge of the city’s pollution problem: coal. The Chinese capital says it will eliminate the use of coal in its six main districts by the year 2020, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

The Beijing districts are Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan, which are the most urban district in the city. All will have to cease using coal and coal products while any power plants or other facilities that use coal will be shuttered. More efficient energy, like natural gas, will act as a replacement to coal in the nation’s capital, the bureau said.

In 2012, the burning of coal amounted to a full quarter of Beijing’s total energy use, reported Xinhua. By 2017, this figure is expected to drop to 10 percent.

As part of the crackdown on pollution, other types of fuel to be prohibited include fuel oil, petroleum coke, combustible waste and some biomass fuels.

As air pollution has plagued Beijing and throughout China in recent years, several approaches have been suggested or implemented to ease the burden on residents. The concept of establishing “wind corridors” to help blow smog away in Beijing is currently being researched. As well, six million cars will be taken off Chinese roads in order to reduce air pollution produced by automobiles. In Hebei, a gigantic water cannon patrols city streets shooting mists of water into the air in order to rid urban air of excess airborne matter.

Photo: Think Progress

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