In our broadcast this week, we showed how some Chinese drivers are opting for knockoff electric cars that are non-polluting and cheap.
But some of our viewers commented that most of the electricity that these vehicles use is generated by coal, which increases air pollution and greenhouse gases.
We take a deeper look at China’s battle against air pollution and highlight more multimedia features produced by the Clearing the Air project by China Green at the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.
To visualize the difference between a smoggy day and a clear day in Bejing, China Green created a photo slider where you can move your mouse across to see the contrast in one frame:
The project has also included a daily photo diary of Beijing’s air quality, listing the best and worst days for air pollution levels.
This project recently expanded to include a Twitter competition BeijingAirPix between photos of Beijing and New York. Beijing defintely does not always lose!
In addition to the visuals, the site explains how air pollution is measured:
Air pollution index (API), published by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, is derived from measurements of five pollutants: Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, PM10, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone. The average concentration for each pollutant is calculated daily and the concentration of the pollutant with the highest API (0-500) will become that day’s major pollutant, recorded as that day’s API figure. In Beijing, PM10–particulate matter 10 microns or smaller–is the major pollutant most days.
And, there is an explanation of what the government has done thus far:
The Chinese have invested about 120 billion yuan ($17.3 billion) over the last 10 years to improve air quality in the capital. Although the levels of many major pollutants like Sulfur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide are now at target levels, the concentration of PM10, or inhalable particulate matter, remains above national targets. During the Olympic Games, Beijing shut down upwind factories, halted construction and imposed strict traffic controls to control emissions.
The site also offers a news feed of recent articles on China’s air quality.
Longing for Blue Skies explains the attempts by China’s government to rein in air pollution during a period of major economic growth: