How Does Air Pollution in China Affect Daily Life? A Current events project by henry owens

Air Pollution has been a pressing issue in China for many years, but it is an issue that is still very relevant and important. While it is a problem in all of China, including many rural places, three highly affected cities are Beijing, Chengdu and Shenyang. Places like Guangzhou or Shanghai still suffer from pollution but to a much lesser extent. The most common measure is micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5. The World Health Organization states that over 35 micrograms is no longer safe, however the Chinese Government states 75 micrograms as their standard. Even with this exaggerated guideline, PM 2.5 levels frequently exceed both limits (Tatlow).

Air pollution has always been present in China in recent history, but there was a short period of cleaner air back in 2008-2010. This was spurred by two things. First, at the time, China was in the midst of an economic downfall. A common pattern has been that with a worse economy, less air pollution. The second reason behind the cleaner air in 2008 was the Olympics. In order for Beijing to win its bid for the 2008 Olympics, China made promises on clearing up the air, which led to short term improvement. This was achieved by closing certain factories and putting construction in the Capital on hiatus. Additionally, cars were banned from driving one day a week, staggered based on license plate number (Tran). While these actions severely decreased air pollution at the time, they were not adopted long term and air pollution is currently worse than ever.

Air pollution has reached dangerous levels recently that have been disrupting daily life in China. On December 19th, 2016, 1767 stores and companies closed, 2036 construction sites halted, 350 flight cancelations, and 100 tollbooths closed (Global Issues in Context). It is immensely difficult for society to function under those circumstances. Schools were closed, some teachers attempting to overcome the two day interruption by teaching Live lessons online through various virtual classroom services (Jacobs). China has grown far more accustomed to dealing with missed school because it is not a rare occurrence thanks to air pollution. Even more recently, on January 4, 2017, Beijing issued a Red Alert, closing stores, schools, and taking cars off the road, providing public transportation instead (Global Issues in Context).

Air pollutions is a major issue in China and it frequently interrupts daily life. It is an issue that affects hundreds of millions of people, yet relatively little has been done about it in the long term. The predominant Chinese religions are centered around how we treat others and society, yet say nothing about the environment.

My research has raised the following questions:

  • Why is the government doing so little with Air Pollution?
  • Which activist groups are taking action?
  • What can Americans do to help people's lives?

Project By Henry Owens

All Images From:

Jacobs, Sarah. "29 eerie photos that show just how polluted China's air has become." Business Insider. Last modified January 5, 2017. Accessed February 2, 2017.

Created By
Henry Owens
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