The Beijing Smog

The environment has always been a major concern for me. I haven't eaten meat in two years just to help the tiny amount that I can. It amazes me that people could be such greedy, careless jerks as to dump poisons into our atmosphere just to save a few cents, especially in a country that claims to be communist. The smog kills now by poisoning everyone, and it will kill later if not stopped, as the greenhouse effect is slowly burning us all to extinction.

What is smog?

Smog is the thick haze that forms when pollution and smoke mix with fog. In Beijing, however, the air is contaminated with something called Particulate Matter 2.5. Named after its miniscule size of 2.5 microns, smaller than the average virus, PM 2.5 is a mixture of soot, organic byproducts, and heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium. These bits of poison cover Beijing in a dark cloud, only occasionally lifting enough to see the sun.

Did you know -

Until 2008, the Chinese government would not tell their citizens about the smog.
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Photograph credit Kim Kyung-Hoon

Why is the smog an issue?

PM 2.5, the main constituent of this smog, is highly toxic, containing many of the most harmful industrial byproducts in the world. With such a small particle size, PM 2.5 goes directly to the bloodstream once inhaled, and from there, can get to the brain, causing permanent neural damage. Beijing's air often has an Air Quality Index upwards of 250, over twenty times the World Health Organization recommended maximum.

Did you know -

There is no known concentration of PM 2.5 small enough to cause no adverse effects on human health.
While PM 2.5 is lethal to most cells, some pathogens can actually thrive in this toxic soup.
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What are people doing to protect themselves?

People in Beijing have mainly focused on two main goals: purifying their air now, and preventing more pollution. Air filtration masks have become commonplace in Beijing, and some people even wear them for fashion purposes. In addition, many homes have air purifiers in them, to protect not only the residents but their pets and houseplants as well. Some people go a step further by raising awareness of the issue. There are multiple image campaigns online to show just how bad the smog gets.

Did you know -

Zou Yi, a development manager from Beijing, has made several conglomerate images showing daily smog levels for a month. The image for November 2015 shows only 5 clear days.
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Image taken from Al Jazeera

What is the government doing to help?

For a large portion of the smog crisis, the Chinese government has considered economic growth to be more important than the environment. This attitude has, thankfully, turned around in the past six months. Three of Beijing's four largest coal burners have been shut down, and the city has been issuing red alerts on the worst of days. They have also created a Five - Year Plan to cut down on pollution by 2020.

Works Cited

The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Web. 02 May 2016.

"China's Pollution." CBSNews. CBS Interactive. Web. 02 May 2016.

"Red Alert, Life inside the Beijing Smog." - Al Jazeera English. Web. 02 May 2016.

"What Is China Doing to Tackle Its Air Pollution?" BBC News. Web. 02 May 2016.