Smog smothers Harbin, China

(Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Smog, not fog, envelops a bridge in Harbin, China (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Smog at 30 times the World Health Organization’s recommended standard has blanketed Harbin, China, a city of 10 million, for several days. Visibility in some parts of the city is said to be as little as 30 feet. And with roads and airports closed, there’s no escape.

The smog is attributed variously to lack of wind, high humidity, farmers burning off their fields after the harvest, and coal-fired heating systems. CNN reported this morning that such smog, which occurs intermittently, can take up to five years off the lives of the residents, and that even sophisticated masks are not sufficient to make inhaled air safe.

Imagine stepping out of your home and into pollution like this instead of the clean, breathable air you take for granted. It makes me inexpressibly grateful for the bright sun and brilliant blue skies above Denver today.

I think I’ll go for a long walk.

16 thoughts on “Smog smothers Harbin, China

  1. I saw this on the news PT, along with reports of growing unrest over the resources being used to provide indoor “safe harbors” to members of the government elite. So sad.

    1. Hadn’t heard about safe harbors for the elite. But it sounds like the way they do things over there. Use and abuse the general population in whatever way they want in order to enrich the government elite. Oh, wait, that sounds familiar …

        1. Yes, Izaak, but it is our old ways that China is really into. We can thank the EPA that we pulled back from becoming what they are now. One wonders whether the Chinese environment will get so bad that it is irrecoverable.

          1. I agree Jim. The “our ways” and eye-roll were intended to mock their adoption of the worst aspects of a system they spent all those years condemning as evil. 😉

  2. I also saw this on the news….miserable! What they didn’t mention is that it also smells of diesel fuel ALL the time…getting a fresh breath of air is a miracle!

  3. Some of the main culprits causing smog also contribute to “global warming.” Seems to me there is little point debating whether the warming is real or not when we run the risk of chocking to death on bad air if we don’t do more to combat the pollutants.

    1. And yet the people who say there is no global warming are the same ones who want to do away with the EPA and all our current protections/regulations against air pollution. As you say, we’ll probably all choke to death before they’ll admit there’s a problem. Or maybe some of us will have drowned in our beachfront homes before we choke to death on bad air.

      1. Absolutely, PiedType. I swear this is why my younger son has asthma–he was born the summer we had terrible smoke from fires in south Texas and Mexico. The smoke blew up our way and was thick for a while. It does “burn” the lining of the lungs.


        1. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a connection. I know how badly smoke burns my eyes, but at least I can rinse them. Can’t do much to clean crud out of lungs.

    1. Thanks. I was not aware that China has been working hard to reduce its air pollution. Frankly, I’d been working with the old assumption that the Chinese government really didn’t care as long as its workers were cranking out the maximum amount of cheap goods for the world market. It’s encouraging to know they aren’t content with poisoning their people and the rest of the world just to make a buck.

... and that's my two cents