In recent weeks, China’s air has been deemed too hazardous to breathe. The air quality index, which deems 51-100 moderate and anywhere above 151 unhealthy, has soared past 500 and even 700 in recent days, far outpassing the index’s highest levels.
So what is being done? Factories are being temporarily shut down until the wind can sweep across the city and move some of that saturated air out of the urban center that over 20 million people call home. But what is the long-term solution? Where there is greater affluence, some are building “pollution domes” to protect kids who want to play outside. But those in positions of political power are tight-lipped about any long-term commitments to reducing the sources of pollution. The benefits of production, growth and urbanization outweigh the consequences. But the scale will tip. It is only a matter of time. And if there is any question whether this will affect those of us who live stateside — seemingly a long way from China’s pollution problems — there have been multiple studies that say yes. Much of the pollution hovering over California may in fact be imported, along with our iPhones and flatscreens, from China.
China is now consuming as much coal as the rest of the world. Combined. That’s a staggering amount. It seems like the main thing China can do is transition to cleaner energy. We are draining the grid with use of electronics that connect us to each other in a million different ways; isn’t it time we combine our collective innovative capital to benefit the economy and environment?