So now we know that the smog we’re breathing in practically every day can cause cancer.
We also know that the government intends to throw a ton of money (nearly 5 trillion yuan) at the problem and has announced plans to implement a spate of new measures, including:
– Washing the streets on "Blue" ("Heavy") alert days, when the AQI is between 201-300) and "Yellow" ("Serious") days, when the AQI exceeds 300.
– Closing factories and construction sites, banning barbecues and setting off fireworks on "Orange" alert days.
– Restricting cars based on even and odd plates and closing schools on "red alert" days (when the AQI exceeds 300 over a 3-day period).
Similar measures, including the closure of schools, were already put into effect in Harbin yesterday, where much like the abysmal days Beijing experienced this past January, the PM 2.5 readings have been airpocalyptically horrible this past week (with AQI readings of over 500).
Shanghaiist has posted some photos showing just how bad it’s been in China’s tenth largest city:
In the meantime it’s been established that Beijing’s pollution woes are no easy fix, and it seems that regardless of how much money and drastic new measures are announced, heavy pollution still persists in the capital. Witness the current scene outside our office window:
If the heavily polluted days that marred the October Holiday are anything to go on, we will most certainly have to endure more stretches of horrible pollution. And while Beijing’s "Red Alert" measures (i.e. taking more cars off the road and closing down schools) seem sensible, if not long overdue, they beg the question as to how such alerts will be broadcast (via TV? SMS? Official decree?) and whether or not Beijing’s public transportation system will be able to handle the sudden influx of car-less commuters.
As for the closure of schools, we spoke with the administration at Beijing No. 25 Middle School (北京市第二十五中学) and were told that they had received no word thus far as to how and how far in advance they would be informed of an impending shutdown.
And there’s still the question of how working parents will manage to care for their kids when they’re suddenly out of school. Will this have to be done at their own expense in the form of sick leave or vacation days?
Let’s hope they think these things through before putting this policy into effect.