As the haze continues to worsen in north eastern China, local media had reported that Bejing and 32 other cities had suffered from “hazardous” air this weekend. The Los Angeles skyline has often been known to display a brownish skyline which is in part due to reasons similar to the cause of pollution in Bejing, like car traffic. Residents of Bejing were advised for the fourth straight day to stay indoors because of the levels of toxic particles in the air. Many parts of the city were covered so heavily to the point where roughly 700 flights were canceled at the Bejing airport, some highways were also closed down.
Levels of pollution are the worst in recorded history. The U.S. Embassy in Bejing reported the city’s air quality-index to read about 775, where a rating of 300 is considered “extremely rare” here in the United States. Hospitals in Bejing have reported up to 30% increases in the number of patients reporting breathing problems. Higher concentrations of particulate matter (PM) are associated with emergency room visits making the air quality a serious health concern for not only the residents of China, but the entire world.
These events contribute to a dim future for the Earth’s atmosphere and all human beings since particulate matter is capable of penetrating the lungs and impairing respiratory function, which is why Chinese people are commonly seen wearing face masks in photographs. Smog is not any one city’s problem. Though the poor air quality has secluded itself into a particular area at the present time, be mindful that the globe’s air can never be segregated.
To address this factor, 76 United Nations (UN) members had signed a “legally binding agreement” obliging industrially developed nations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The Kyoto Protocol was enacted in 2005 with the hope that the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations would be possible. Unfortunately, China was not one of the countries to sign the treaty. The United States also has declined to ratify the treaty.