AirpocalypseChina is going through a severe pollution crisis, kind of like what many other countries went through decades ago when they first industrialized, but made worse by the much population density in the region. As we've written about recently, air pollution kills an average of 4000 people every day in China, 17% of all China’s deaths.
While there's been some signs that China might be reaching a turning point - environmental issues are the #1 cause of social unrest and some political leaders are starting to take some steps to deal with pollution - the country is far from out of the woods. A reminder of that comes this week from the nation's capital, Beijing: For the first time ever, the city has issued a 'Red Alert' on air pollution, forcing a variety of measures to try to bring air quality back to a less toxic level.
The alert will begin at 7 AM on Tuesday and force millions of vehicles off the roads, force factories and construction projects to temporarily shut down, and schools and nurseries are also asked to close. This measures are welcome and should probably have started last week when pollution levels reached 40x what is considered 'safe' by the World Health Organization.
“It is history – this is a precedent set,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public an Environmental Affairs in Beijing. “This is extremely important to stop children from being exposed to such a high level of pollution.”
This massive episode of smog is expected to choke the city at least until Thursday, when rain is expected to clear things somewhat.