Heavy pollution causing Chinese 'airpocalypse'
The government pledges to cut vehicle emissions, but critics point to the nation's questionable fuel standards.
China may have the world's fastest-growing auto industry, but with that success come some incredible pollution problems.
Air pollution levels were literally off the charts in Beijing over the weekend, reportedly reducing visibility to about 100 yards in some areas and prompting some flight cancellations. Residents in several Chinese cities have been advised to stay indoors. At least four deaths have been blamed on what Chinese media calls the "smoggy weather" -- including two high school students who were hit by a train due to low visibility.
The Australian says work at dozens of construction sites and a car factory in the Chinese capital have been halted in an effort to ease the air pollution.
The air quality is so bad -- some foreigners in China have been referring to it on social media as the "Airpocalypse" -- that government media have been joining Internet users in questioning China's rapid path to economic growth.
"China's pollution is accumulating," said a recent editorial in the country’s Global Times. "The general reason is that China's process of industrialization has not finished and infrastructure construction is rising. China is still the biggest construction site in the world. At the same time, it is a veritable global factory. Against this background, it is impossible for China to be as clean as the West."
"However," the editorial continues, "recent atmospheric pollution has really sounded a warning to us: if we continue this way of development instead of adjusting it, the long-term damage will be serious."
The official Xinhua News Agency says China has pledged to "vigorously" curb vehicle exhaust emissions. A spokesman for the nation’s Ministry of Environmental Protection told Xinhua the government will "take effective measures to limit the total amount of nitrogen oxide emitted by vehicles and intensify supervision over the production, use and elimination of motor vehicles."
A major part of China’s air pollution problem is the quality of the fuel used in its cars, trucks and other vehicles.
The Los Angeles Times reports fuel standards in the People’s Republic allow for three times the amount of noxious sulfur as in the United States, and five times as much compared to European standards.
But China's state-run oil companies have the ultimate say over fuel quality standards. "Without pressure, it will be difficult to get the oil companies to change," Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, tells the Times. "They’re a very powerful monopoly."
The global management consulting firm McKinsey says China’s expanding economy and rising rates of personal income should fuel passenger car sales there -- which are expected to grow 8%, to 22 million annually, by the end of 2020.
"Carmakers, at least the global ones, are definitely prepared for any technical upgrades the [Chinese] government might demand," Michael Dunne, founder of the auto marketing firm Dunne & Company, told the Times. "The key problem has always been, and remains, fuel quality. Even the most advanced engines cannot produce clean exhaust when the fuel quality is second-rate."
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China is a overpopulated cess pool, producing worthless low quality junk. Buy anything, but Chineese made garbage.
I thought the USA was suppose to be the largest contributor to global warming? Can the world Carbon tax China?
I hear al gore is going to help out. On national tv he is going to turn off one of his 10 wt bulbs to make a difference (but only for 5 minutes).
"China's pollution is accumulating," said a recent editorial in the country’s . "The general reason is that China's process of industrialization has not finished and infrastructure construction is rising. China is still the biggest construction site in the world. At the same time, it is a veritable global factory. Against this background, it is impossible for China to be as clean as the West."
"Because we have no envronmental or safety laws, we have grown to become the world's factory. So, you can't expect us to be as clean as the West."
Many things are low quality from China. Add fuel to the list. If they use "made in china" gas masks, soon USA products will be easy to find.
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