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My vision for a smog-free China

Popularity 9Viewed 15148 times 2016-3-7 11:09 |System category:News| China, vision

I’ve lived in China for quite a considerable time including my graduate school years, travelled and worked in a few cities and still choose my destination taking into consideration the density of smog or PM2.5 particulate matter in the region.

 

Being a naturalist, I live a life which I try as much as possible to avoid manmade environmental hazards especially smoke or smog-filled environments. But that’s sort of a dream living in a country where heavy smog is a common occurrence and clear blue skies in smog-hot-spots are hailed as a national achievement.

 

So I thought, if I’m asked what’s my vision for a prosperous China what would that be? And the only thing that could come to mind was ‘a smog-free China. That if Beijing and its surroundings for example are going to achieve the government set target of reducing pollution by 40% from 2013 level by 2020, then a single day in each week should be strictly set aside as a national anti-pollution day.

 

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smog. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.

 

Many manmade and natural sources emit PM directly or emit other pollutants that react in the atmosphere to form PM. These solid and liquid particles come in a wide range of sizes.

Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

 

My vision

My vision is to see China rid its atmosphere of these pollutants that kill millions each year and scare foreign talents out of the country. I envision that as the country prepares to create more opportunities for foreign talents it would adhere to strict set-measures that could eventually make the perennial smog-scare in major cities a thing of the past.

 

My suggestion

So what’s my suggestion? I suggest that a single day in each week should be devoted nationwide or in hot-spot areas to mitigating the problem. Out of 365 (366 in a leap year) days in a year, a single day for example Monday in a week doubles up to at least 53 (52 days in a leap year) days. That’s at least 52-53 days of adhering to activities that limit the emission of manmade substances that causes increase in pm2.5 matter- call it the National Anti-pollution day or Smog-free day. It could be voluntary or statutory, any which way freedom from smog must come.

It could impact on the profitability of big companies but hey, that’s the opportunity cost of having a smog-free nation. Just like Europe and some states in the US did during the industrial revolution, China should take firm and continual measures in protecting the environment.

 

The Deputy Head of the China Research Academy of Environmental Sciences Chai Fahe at a seminar in February, 2016 called for ‘extra strict’ regulations to reduce pollutant emissions. I think my suggestion could pass as an ‘extra strict’ efficient and effective regulation if it hasn’t already been tabled.

 

In all, there are around 74 major domestic cities that have been highlighted in the country as prone to heavy smog with major hot-spots in Northern and Central China so if these cities for example could adopt a single day every week and observe that day as an anti-pollution day I think achieving the government set target of reducing pollution by 40% from 2013 level by 2020 wouldn’t be an improbable achievement.

 

Undeniably, a lot is been done in major capitals like Beijing and Tianjin. Over 716 enterprises considered as major polluters have been evicted from Beijing. The city has rejected 13,000 industrial and commercial registrations. It is building a one-hour city transportation circle as part of a green transportation model to ease traffic jams and pollution- and I’m sure that would be replicated in other smog-hot-spots.

 

In short, it is my hope that the administrative sub-center plan to be rolled out by the government, based on standards for an international first class, harmonious and habitable metropolis would take into consideration a national anti-pollution day to be observed once every week

 

 

 

 

 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report seneca 2016-3-7 21:19
I absolutely and positively support your vision and call for a smoke-free, pollution-free day a week. Yes, it will cost a little, but the costs are for a noble cause and in the long run these costs are more than offset by gains and savings in other expenses such as medical treatments for people suffering from pollution-induced health issues, as for example asthma. Let us not always quibble over minor cost increases; let us deal with an emergency and how to involve every citizen.  Yes, the citizens are as guilty of the pollution as the State. Lastly, China would do something good in an unselfish way that would earn it global recognition. Don't imagine it would be for nothing. Europe implemented a car-free day back in the 1970s in response to the oil scarcity the day.
Reply Report eddieturkson 2016-3-8 07:01
seneca: I absolutely and positively support your vision and call for a smoke-free, pollution-free day a week. Yes, it will cost a little, but the costs are fo ...
Thanks for the support comrade.
Reply Report MichaelM 2016-3-8 09:54
As always, an excellent blog!
Reply Report eddieturkson 2016-3-8 17:03
MichaelM: As always, an excellent blog!
Thanks for the encouragement.
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-3-10 10:59
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage.
Reply Report eddieturkson 2016-3-10 23:18
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage.
Thanks
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-3-11 13:11
I like the idea of a pollutant-free day!
Funny how Wuhan typically has worse air than Beijing. It seems most tier-three cities have more pollution; could be because of all of the destruction/construction going on. Would you advocate such cities halting de/construction for that one day, as well?
Reply Report eddieturkson 2016-3-11 19:57
teamkrejados: I like the idea of a pollutant-free day!
Funny how Wuhan typically has worse air than Beijing. It seems most tier-three cities have more pollution; c ...
I guess I would, those migrants workers work sometimes deep into the night, even on cold winter nights- a day break could do them some good- but I hope they don't spend the day playing cards by the sidewalks......     
Reply Report aixi 2016-3-13 04:44
This is a great post, thank you for really thinking and helping to try and make China even better
Reply Report teamkrejados 2016-3-13 09:58
eddieturkson: I guess I would, those migrants workers work sometimes deep into the night, even on cold winter nights- a day break could do them some good- but I hop ...
I'd rather they played cards than spend the day, gawking at passing foreigners!  
Reply Report Ted180 2016-3-16 15:30
Rapid increase in per capita GDP requires some pollution. This is an unfortunate phase in development. Will be curtailed as economically appropriate. More lives are saved by industrialization than destroyed by pollution. Life is full of HARD choices. Not a comfy day-dream.
Reply Report eddieturkson 2016-3-17 09:59
Ted180: Rapid increase in per capita GDP requires some pollution. This is an unfortunate phase in development. Will be curtailed as economically appropriate.  ...
    
Reply Report Ted180 2016-3-18 19:54
An example of how straightforward environmentalism can be disastrous. Because less coal is burned fewer refrigerators are built and more children die of food-borne gastroenteritis than humans calculated to die per unit of CO2 and other pollutants produced. I suspect many environmentalists of Luddite, anti-capitalist or simply delusional tendencies. What humanity NEEDS is cold calculations.

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