Beijing woke on the first morning of the New Year covered in thick toxic fog, with a concentration of harmful particles 20 times higher than international standards.
After a long period of pollution in December, the Chinese capital was again smothered Sunday in an acrid grey haze which limited visibility to a few hundred metres.
Luminous signs on top of the skyscrapers seemed to float in the fog, while some tourists wore respiratory masks.
Levels of PM 2.5 — microscopic particles harmful to human health — exceeded 500 on Sunday morning, according to US Embassy estimates, vastly above the maximum threshold of 25 recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a 24-hour exposure.
On Sunday the exasperation of people in Beijing overwhelmed social networks.
“Why didn’t they trigger the red alert? Because it would be a bad omen for the first day of the year?” wrote a surfer on the Weibo microblogging platform.
Between December 16-21, Beijing along with some 30 other major cities in northern China was on “red alert”, a maximum alarm level triggered when severe pollution is likely to last more than 72 hours.
Almost all of the alerts were dropped on Sunday, according to official sites, with the notable exception of various districts of Shijiazhuang, the capital of the highly industrialised province of Hebei, where in mid-December pollution was 40 times the maximum recommended WHO threshold.
China’s GDP Overstated
Not only is China killing its citizens with toxic air and water, but pollution and related cleanup costs are not properly factored into China’s GDP.
China’s arbitrary growth targets are not worth the price.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock