Interesting article in the ‘Guardian’ entitled “Air pollution could become China’s biggest health expert warns”, and that directs us to another interesting article in the ‘Guardian’s’ environment blog, under the heading, ‘Blogging battle over Beijing smog”. There are no surprises in the first article and the fact that the government data has shown that the quality of air is improving although air pollution is in fact getting worse should hardly surprise us.
However, what is surprising is that an increasing number of people are aware that the government data doesn’t include certain pollutants , even if most of them don’t know that the pollutants they exclude are ozone and small particulate matter known as PM2.5, which in fact pose the greatest risk to human health. What is really surprising though is where they appear to get this information from, and that directs us to the blog article which reports that an automated air quality monitoring station has been set up by the US embassy in Beijing and that it:
“issues hourly updates via Twitter on the @bijingair account. It states the date, time, pollutions readings for ozone and PM2.5 and a terse English summary of the health implications. At 8am, it read “very unhealthy” – an improvement on the “hazardous” level of the previous day and the alarming “beyond index” of last Friday.”
Now here in Germany this type of information has been available for a number of years and I can only imagine the reaction if the public here was exposed to readings like; “very unhealthy”, “hazardous”, “beyond index.” Still apparently the United States didn’t include the ozone and tiny particulate matter, known as PM2.5 in its own data until 2007 and in a third article we can find a promise of sorts by the Chinese government to catch up in the near future. Does this mean that they will be disclosing the ozone and PM2.5 data? Well, the evidence would appear to suggest that if they do the information will be horrifying. Yes, this could also be a good litmus test as to how the CCP can tell its citizens the truth and then cope positively with any reaction.
Finally, from my own experience, China is a veritable house of cards and the environment is one area where this is particularly obvious. My time in China in general and in Zhengzhou in particular not only had me coughing all too often, but also had me painfully aware that on this planet of finite resources the whole shebang in the People’s Republic of China just cannot be sustainable. Of course, with the citizens of Beijing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Shenzehn, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Shanghai and elsewhere waking up to read “beyond index” and “hazardous”, the pack of cards might collapse sooner rather than later and it is knowing that which might mean that the government will go for the long-term option and let the country choke itself to death.
The picture shows Wutong Jie in Zhengzhou Xi