All across China millions are being killed. One report in April 2013 estimated one-in-a-thousand premature deaths by air pollution – that’s 1.2-million.
So far this year in Beijing, smog levels are almost 30% over the same period in 2012. Newspapers say fossil fuels are the culprit. Burning coal and oil creates minuet particles that embed deep in the lungs, explaining why so many wear surgical masks. The US Embassy there recorded these particles 35-times higher than the World Health Organization’s guideline.
The Government is doing all it can – in Beijing along, they’re spending US$16 billion over three-years on the problem, but citizens will still need mobile-phone apps to report pollution levels. On the worst days, the old and frail are advised to stay indoors.
Everyone in China wants a car and many can now afford one, adding to over 5.2-million vehicles in the capital. New emission standards similar to Europe should cut nitrogen oxide by 40%, but only to the latest vehicles and most trucks still burn low quality diesel.
No wonder air filter sales in China are booming – soley for the rich and they only work inside. The only sure way of avoiding the perils of over-industrialization is to move to the mountains, but everyone needs work.
Hong Kong has among the best of Chinese urban air. Understandable with a population of only 7-million and few factories – however, the University estimates that in December 2012, 253 citizens died early and 576,890 visited their doctor because of pollution. I just have an occasional light cough.
Ten years ago in Hong Kong the sky was blue and everything bright. Now it’s hard to see the Peak. Last Sunday I could just about make out shapes the other side of the harbour from the Star Ferry. The TV weather forecast includes a pollution report that often says roadside levels are ‘dangerous’ – but Beijing’s rein of the media prevents broadcasting ‘severe’.