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February 5, 2010
China’s air quality improves but remains highly polluted

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:




[…] government that it prevented parts of the report from being released to the public. Although things have improved somewhat in recent years, clean air remains a scarce commodity in Chinese cities and […]


Give them a spoon when the air is too thick to breath


China is not about to let air quality interfere with their economic development.


P.S. China started cleaning up its air quality after they were awarded the Olympics.


I’ve been aware of China’s pollution woes for years via the European (golf) Tour venues, in China. China is a big headache and, increasingly so in more fields than pollution concerns. I recall my headmistress saying, 60 years ago “in the future, the Southern Hemisphere will put a stanglehold on the Northern Hemisphere” To digress to this past week and your Green energy segment Was I mistaken? Was Brazil mentioned as a Green’zone’ A few months back, did you not have a segment on Brazil whereupon it was mentioned that their sugar cane harvesting (for fuel) causes deforestation and- furthermore, the burning of the sugar cane stubble is toxic and highly polluting? == I like the way topics are discussed in depth. Thank you A.K.


Is not industrial growth wonderful. China has in a short 25 years have done more damage to the country then any other goverment in the last 5,000 years. You have Communist Party officals who became greedy. They wanted the big house, drive the big car, send their children to far off lands for their summer vacation. Since China has a vast cheap labor force that need to be kept busy all year long rules and other rules were thrown away. Party Officals became the Robber Barons of China. There children who study in America want that big apartment and to drive a car like they did in America when they were students. Since the all mighty Yen speaks louder then a pile of Red Books. Capitalist greed found a new home in China. How did this occur when China used to be a clean place where you could basicly drink out of the local river, breath clean air and live a simple life.
When China sent their students to study in America 25 some years ago many against their will really saw America up front where even the poorest person in an American slum lived at a higher standard then the students did back in China, all that info that they were told about America and its poor workers vanish almost over night. The poorest house/apartment in the worst slum in America has a common thing that was hardly found in China, a indoor toilet that flushed.
The ruleing face in China has had their children educated in America, the new party leaders are school in America. It might take another generation to clear up the air, but it will happen.

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