Bleak Skies in Beijing

Throughout the world, countries are working actively to prevent environmental disasters through the reduction of carbon emissions and stricter industrial regulations. However, China, with its booming factories manufacturing goods for delivery throughout the world, has had difficulty addressing air pollutants emitted by its industrial sector. Bad air quality in China has reached unprecedented severity as smog blankets large cities throughout the country, obscuring the sky and rendering walking around in the cities—even with a facemask—a burdensome task.
“Smog is a pretty serious issue in Chinese industrial cities nowadays, and it could negatively affect a lot of people’s health,” junior Lily Chen said. “I think that the Chinese government should urgently come up with a plan to address heavy air pollution and prevent the problem from worsening.”
From December 30th to January 7th, Beijing’s air contained carcinogenic particles at a frequency of 500 micrograms per cubic meter. The air quality dipped so low that it was 50 times the World Health Organization’s recommended safety threshold of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Furthermore, over the course of December 30th to January 7th, Beijing’s sky was visible only for about half of a day on January 2nd according to Quartz.
“The air pollution is extremely worrying and the negative effects of exposure to carcinogenic compounds in highly polluted air presents a significant public health issue in China,” sophomore Kevin Chang said.
In order to combat the problem, Chinese citizens have turned to using face masks and air purifiers to address the consequences of exposure to air pollutants on a family by family scale. The cost of air purifiers presents a separate problem. In addition, the protection yielded by surgical masks is temporary, as there is a finite amount of pollutants capable of being absorbed by the mask. As such, purifiers present a longer solution to the growing problem of air pollution. However, the price is only affordable to those of the middle class and higher, posing the question of whether the government should provide air purification as a fundamental right of Chinese citizens. Additionally, many have taken action within their households to curb emissions through environmentally friendly practices such as recycling. Students can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by car pooling and choosing to walk and bike. Turning off unused appliances and the lights in vacant rooms can also help reduce the amount of energy generated by fossil fuels at power plants that supply energy to households.
“Pollution and environmental problems affect the way that I do everyday tasks so I try to help the environment,” sophomore Vivian Bai said. “I always turn off the faucet when possible, and I try to reduce waste by choosing reusable items or recycling.”
In order to curb carbon emissions in China, members of the community must actively seek environmentally compatible practices and the government must address pollution through stricter regulations on what is emitted into the air. As DCDS has a substantial student body with family in China, it is vital that to continue advocating for environmentally compatible practices, especially as the problems of climate change and air pollution continue to worsen globally.​

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