Daniel Susco
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Chinese Air Pollution Critical: How Will the World’s Biggest Car Market Deal With Its Smog?

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Beijing China bicycle rider

Image: Lei Han

China is in a bad way, you guys. We have talked for a long time about how bad the Chinese air pollution, especially that in Beijing, has gotten—back in September, the government instituted a factory shut-down order and banned half of all cars from the road in Beijing and four surrounding cities for a week ahead of time in order to cut enough pollution to see a blue sky for the country’s WWII victory parade, only to see the smog return the very next day; and way back at the beginning of 2014, we noted that, although China is perhaps the largest car market in the world, its air quality is extremely poor, with deaths from lung cancer rising a ridiculous 465% since the 1970s, before China’s industrial revitalization.

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Now, we live in a time where Beijing has issued its first red alert for pollution, closing schools and construction sites, as well as banning half of all cars on the road based on license plate number, with heavy vehicles being banned outright. The air quality index at the time was classed as a moderately-phrased “very unhealthy” at 10 times safe levels of air pollutants. Of course, Chinese people are used to such things—one man, named Wolf Hu, told CNN “I’d find a day when the sky is blue unusual.”

However, the best illustration of how bad things are getting is that Canadian entrepreneurs are literally selling the Chinese people canned fresh air, for $10 to $20 per can.

Spaceballs canned air

Yes, like in Spaceballs
© Brooksfilms

Honestly, things are extremely grim. There is one shaft of hope, though, filtered as it is through a thick level of carcinogenic particles—the Paris Climate Talks. We mentioned these talks in connection to the Nissan-Renault alliance’s electric car fleet that it provided to the conference attendees, and it seems that China is actually getting serious about its climate, perhaps taking note of rising unrest and pollution-related deaths in its cities. Chinese diplomats played a crucial role in creating and ratifying the agreement, while promising the country would make incremental improvements to its CO2 emissions (the highest of any country in the world).

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News Sources: The Diplomat, CNN, Sfgate.com

Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.