Smog In China Is Bad…But In This Place, It’s Even Worse

Just a few days ago, Beijing issued its first ever air-pollutant PM 2.5 ‘red alert’

— ushering in ‘crude’ awakening (pun intended) on the ever-increasing air quality issue that’s seem to have been swept under the rug for years.

Red orange smog cover pagodas in Hohhot.

We’ve all heard the pollution in China is bad… 
 
But the last time China’s air quality hit the headlines in a big way was summer 2008, when Olympic athletes we’re shown wearing air masks as they touched down in the city hosting the games — Beijing.

U.S. Olympic cyclist arrives in Beijing wearing air mask for summer 2008 games.

Now at the tail end of 2015, Beijing is yet again in the smog ‘spotlight’ — their red alert being issued smackdab in the middle of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Talk about a perfect coincidence…

What exactly does the alert mean, anyway?

In technical terms, a red alert denotes particulate matter in the air measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter — hence the term ‘PM 2.5.’ 
 
These particles are 30 to 100 times thinner than our air, making them easy to inhale and even easier to become lodged — and ultimately stuck — in our lungs. Industrial factories, coal power plants and car exhaust are just a few examples of PM 2.5 producers.

In the real world, a reading like this indicates horrific breathing standards.

For Beijing, this meant ‘business as usual’ coming to an abrupt halt: schools closed, outdoor construction was suspended, and nearly 50% of vehicles were banned from driving on the roads. 
 
Why? 
 
Particles like this pose the greatest health risk to human beings. This particulate matter causes deadly respiratory problems, aggravated asthma and irregular heartbeat, and is responsible for about 17% of all deaths in China. 
 
The rest of the world has been lucky enough to take in Beijing’s smog from a safe distance. Eerie images of cloud-covered cities popup in our Facebook news feed, Twitter homepage, and other social accounts.

Polluted haze covers buildings in Beijing just a week ago.

And the pictures paint a very clear, horrific picture: Chinese citizens are quite literally choking on the air they breath. 
 
But the smog in China seems to have blanketed our vision of what’s happening in the rest of the world. 
 
And while Beijing steals headlines, an air-quality problem even worse than that in Beijing has emerged in a country not so far away:

Whoops, I mean: 
 
 
The capital city alone has seen record-breaking air pollution, but it seems as though many people have failed to noticed.

Smog covers the streets of Delhi.

Perhaps this is because the western world doesn’t rely as heavily upon Indian exports as they do Chinese. 
 
In the U.S., for example, China is the top international trade partner — with nearly 22% of all U.S. imported goods originating from the country. 
 
China provides the U.S. with 10x the amount of goods than India does. So when ‘business as usual’ comes to a halt — which delays export shipping and production — it seems as though we are also 10x more likely to pay attention… 
 
But fact is this:

Delhi’s air pollution has been a whopping 1.5x WORSE than China’s over the past week.

In fact, the top 13 cities with the worst air pollution in the world are all in India. 
 
How does Beijing — along with other major global cities — stack up in comparison?

We don’t need to look much further than our Facebook feed to know that Beijing is bad. Now imagine living in a city with air quality two times worse. 
 
But regardless of where we are in the world — whether it be in Los Angeles, Beijing, or Delhi — it’s frightfully clear that air pollution is quickly becoming the largest global environmental health risk we face today as humans. 
 
Oddly enough, we stand responsible for creating our own demise. 
 
How do we solve the problem? 
 
Just ask Dwight Schrute from The Office:

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Originally published at www.simplepickup.com.

Reposted with permission from Simple Pickup. http://www.simplepickup.com/article/11352/blankets-of-smog