The Chinese Meteorological Authority today issued a “yellow alert” concerning the levels of smog in the country’s central and eastern regions. According to the Meteorological Authority, visibility will be decreased to less than 1,000 metres in parts of Beijing and surrounding areas, and there are even some questions about the toxicity levels of the smog. Similarly, few if any of the pictures of Bangkok I have taken in the past three days have been free of haze or smog, and you can barely take three steps out of the hotel without seeing at least a dozen people wearing face masks. Yesterday the smog was so thick I failed to see the rain clouds coming and was almost caught in a storm, and in some areas the air is so thick it is hard to breath. Obviously in these cities smog is a problem, and I would argue the major culprit is the pollution.
This is part of why I find it so maddening to see politicians and pundits arguing over the “reality” of climate change and proposed environmental policies. In fact, for a moment let’s forget the argument over the veracity of Climate Change. No one who has been to (or seen pictures of) a megacity in a develiping country can dispute the downside of pollution; smog, horrible smells, urban heat island etc. For that matter, anyone who has seen pictures of Los Angeles before and after recent environmental laws can see the negative effects of over pollution. Whether or not Climate Change is real, the result of pumping loads of pollution into the air (let alone the ground, ground acquifiers, lakes and the Ocean) is tanglible. You can see it in the data, you can see it in the pictures, and you can see it in the faces of the people wearing masks in Bangkok. I for one do not want to spend my life wearing a mask every time I go buy some milk. Whether or not Climate Change exists is a secondary issue as far as I am concerned, we have to do something about our pollution levels anyway. We need cleaner ways to generate power and we need to cut down our over-reliance on petrol powered cars. We have to stop pumping this shit into our air, or our cities will be next.
Just for reference, here is a video of the smog Beijing from CCTV (keep in mind this video is 18 hours old, from when the alert was still a “blue alert”):