The words China and pollution are often unintentional bedfellows.
Especially in Western media.
That said, without doubt the level of pollution here is much, much higher than many other countries, however I would also say that the level of pollution is more limited to cities rather than the country as a whole.
To be honest, I found the situation far worse when I lived in Hong Kong than I do living in Shanghai – though I appreciate that was driven by industry in Guangzhou, which was re-affirmed by the fact that when there was a national holiday in China, the weather in HK was amazing – but the fact is, now I’m the proud father of an awesome little boy, my awareness of air quality is even higher than it was before.
[If you’re in China and are interested in the air quality, you should download Airpocalypse … an app designed by my old planning colleague, Tom]
Anyway, the reason I say this is because a photo came out that showed the differing weather conditions over a period of a year.
1. Not all of the ‘dark skies’ are pollution, some of it is just shitty, rainy skies.
2. This was done in Beijing, which has much, much, much worse pollution than Shanghai.
3. There is no additional caveat, I just like writing things in groups of 3.
I’m not trying to defend China/Beijing’s pollution … it’s bad and needs dealing with.
Even the government realise this. In the old days, pollution was just viewed as a negative byproduct of economic growth but now, they’re seeing the implications of this attitude and are responding by spending enormous amounts of money [they’re already the biggest investor in green tech] to try and change it. Not – I should add – just because they recognise the negative effects it’s having on their people’s health and their countries reputation … but because they still need to keep the engine of their economy burning and they have to find a new way to do it that won’t ultimately undermine their progress and development.
So yes, it’s because of self interest, but then, what isn’t where governments are concerned.
But there’s a bigger reason for writing this.
The fact is much of what the West write about China is skewed with prejudice and ignorance and so this picture – while bad – is to serve as a reminder that rather than blindly believe what is written in the newspapers or the internet, look into the facts and the context because then you’ll end up with a much clearer picture of what’s really happening.
Even clearer than a Beijing skyline.
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