Pollution is a concern for any country–developing or developed–and doubly so for a country that relies heavily on coal for electricity. So, with all the lights, factories and cars zipping around Beijing, it’s hardly surprising that they might have a bit of an air pollution problem.
However, Beijing is taking action to reduce the air pollution–though probably not quite how you might have expected.
It seems that illegal, open-air barbecues are a contributor to one of the more severe forms of air pollution: “PM 2.5 particles,” which are “air particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter.” These tiny particles can have serious health consequences, so it makes sense that Beijing might want to get rid of them.
Over the last three months, officials have apparently gathered up and destroyed 500 of the barbecues, as seen in the photo below.
▼”Let none of them escape!” “Yes, sir!”
However, the more serious issue Beijing faces in terms of air quality is actually from coal power plants. But many of those power plants aren’t even in Beijing! Due to what might be the worst bit of geographical luck in the world, the city is inconveniently situated in the perfect spot to have emissions from coal plants in neighboring areas blown right into it. So, simply destroying the barbecues probably isn’t going to be enough.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Beijing is a non-stop smog machine. As you can see in the photos below, taken in August, 2005, there can be significant variation depending on conditions. And, of course, Beijing was able to lower the severity of the air pollution during the 2008 Olympics, though it did require some drastic policies.
▼Left photo: After rainfall. Right photo: A nice, sunny day.
Fortunately, it seems that Beijing is moving towards greener resources and using programs to reduce the amount of cars on the road. Unfortunately, increases in neighboring coal consumption are expected over the next decade, which will almost certainly undo all their hard word!
We’re sure the Beijing government is working as hard as it can to clean up the air, but until then, it just means locals will have a good reason to wear some snazzy face masks!