Beijing smog: When growth trumps life in China

Beijing’s air pollution has soared to hazardous levels, but cleaning up the problem is not straightforward, and is dependant on prioritising quality of life over economic growth.

When I wake up in the morning, I pause briefly before opening my curtains, and what I see out of my window is likely to set the tone for the rest of the day.

I am not checking up on the weather. Instead, I want to know exactly how bad the pollution is going to be. On some mornings, it is truly appalling. It is as if the whole city has been turned into a smokers’ lounge with a yellowish, nicotine colour staining the sky.

And this month, pollution in Beijing went from bad to… well, dangerous.

Air pollution soared past levels considered hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A quick disclaimer here – I was actually on the sunny island of Hainan breathing in fresh sea air, when the smog hit the capital.

But back in Beijing, hospitals were overrun by the young and the old, suffering from respiratory problems. People were warned to stay indoors. The capital’s streets were unusually quiet.

Continue reading: BBC News – Beijing smog: When growth trumps life in China.

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