One of China’s most fundamental environmental challenges is its levels of air pollution. Beijing is seriously affected by air pollution associated with rapid urbanisation and automobile emissions, the country’s coal industry, but also due to its geographical location near to the Gobi Desert. However, the annual New Year celebrations and associated firework displays is a significant yearly addition to the city’s struggle with air pollution.
Following last week’s Lunar New Year celebrations, air pollution levels associated with the firework displays reached headlines across the city. The air pollution levels reached levels a hundred times higher than levels identified as acceptable for human and environmental health. ABC News reported a fine particulate matter reading of 1.593 milligrams per cubic meter after the New Year celebration fireworks. It is the very small size of these particles that make them particularly dangerous for human health, enabling these pollutants to penetrate deep into human lungs.
The city’s New Year celebrations air pollution reaching news headlines, again offers the international community the opportunity to consider China’s environmental challenge in a broader light: to what extent is the international community contributing to China’s air pollution challenges? Will the developed world consider giving up its lifestyles based on mass consumption, to help control air pollution in other countries, such as China?
Watch this Asia Society media clip: http://sites.asiasociety.org/beijingair/
Photo credit: some rights reserved by DonDomingo via flickr.