I don’t think that I can spend a month in China and not say something about the smog. From the first day we arrived in Yangshou I have felt disoriented, as if my senses have shut down and I am unable to “tell” what the weather will do. The sky is unlike anything I have seen before and the air feels different. While there have been some gloriously clear days, in general, a grey haze hangs in the air and it feels oppressive. Steven and I have both been coughing since we arrived and I am convinced that it is smog irritation. Steven is a well managed asthmatic and I have feared that the smog would set off an attack but thankfully this has not happened. Before we left for China, friends who visit here often for work warned us about the smog and they check the air quality before they travel.
I am writing this in Xining, at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau on the 23 floor of the hotel. I look across at the other skyscrapers and the dirty haze just hangs in the sky. It horrifies me that I am breathing that air. Do children who grow up with this think it’s ordinary weather? How long would you have to be here before you started to accept this as normal, that a really smoggy day was just a bad day?
Today in Xining the Air Quality Index is 134 which means it falls in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category. Apparently the general public, like me, wont be affected, but Steve with his asthma may be affected. To give you a comparison, Brisbane, where we live, was 45 on the same day, in the “Good” category.
In Beijing I read an article in a magazine for expatriates living there. A man discussed his dilemma about staying and working in a country he loved now that he had a young child. He had been ok about putting himself in the unhealthy environment but felt completely different when he made that unhealthy choice for his child. Lucky him, he had the choice of whether to leave or not, the Chinese don’t.
The cause of the pollution is complex, but I understand that Continue reading