(I insist you play this song while viewing this post.)
Our super-fast train back to Qingdao slithers out of the white muck
at the Tianjin South Station on Monday around 2pm.
One of the reasons we left Tianjin for Qingdao was the air pollution. It’s not that Qingdao’s air is good — it’s just not as apocalyptic (though labeling 175 “lightly polluted” is borderline Orwellian).
But in a curious and unhealthy twist of fate, we were visiting friends in Tianjin (30min fast train ride from Beijing) on the weekend of China’s recent Airpocalypse, when the API clocked in at 755 in the Capitol. Previously the API always just maxed out at 500: “Beyond Index”.
On a bad pollution day in Qingdao (API in the 300s) the mountains in the distance are gone. On a bad day in Tianjin, the building across the street looks hazy and the ones down the road gone. API 300 is horrid by North American standards; they’d be canceling outdoor events. But it doesn’t necessarily elicit comments in China, even though you can see it out your window, smell it immediately when you open your door, and, if you spend any time outside, feel it in your throat. The worst we’ve seen so far in Qingdao is mid-400s.
Over 500, however, is just… dystopic. Here’s a shot I took from a Tianjin parking lot during the airpocalypse, around noon:
And here’s a regional API screenshot from the China Air Pollution app:
We’ve done plenty of crying on the blog about the air pollution in China, and the result is a handy collection of links, organized by topic below. My favourites in bold.
Extracting honest numbers from the Chinese government:
- How the U.S. embassy in Beijing stuck it to the Chinese government over air pollution
- Air with Chinese characteristics is in the news again
- Beijing/Tianjin air pollution advisory warnings: Chinese vs. American
- Tianjin: where jogging is bad for your health
- Smoggy Air Inspires Media Transparency
Photos & Visuals:
- Satellite world air pollution map
- Air pollution satellite image of Beijing & Tianjin
- Behold the power of Chinaâ€™s weather gods!
- Chewing Tianjinâ€™s Air
- Putting the OMG! in Smog
- “Airpocalypse” photo galleries here, here, here, here, here and here.
Chinese Air Pollution & Your Health: