Beijing Declares “Red Alert”

By Michelle Lampariello

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The city of Beijing, China declared a “red alert” regarding its smog problem last week. The city’s smog was so dense that its measures were off the charts for Air Quality Index (AQI). Beijing’s AQI reached 400 last week- a level capable of  causing respiratory problems and other illnesses for citizens. AQI is measured in micrograms per cubic meter, and the World Health Organization recommends that pollution levels stay below 25. Therefore, Beijing’s level of 400 micrograms per cubic meter is certainly enough to cause a red alert.

The thick smog was visible from NASA satellites, seen as a grayish yellow haze over China. Chinese officials recognized the problem on December 8th and began working towards a solution by cutting emissions from cars and other vehicles. However, cars are not China’s largest problem. Two-thirds of China’s energy comes from coal burning, which is also responsible for a large portion of the smog.

Coal burning is difficult to cut out of the Chinese lifestyle, as many citizens rely on it for energy. “They should focus on cutting emissions from cars, as well as large factories” suggested WHHS Senior and Wayne Environmental Commission member Rachel Alvarez.

China has been battling smog problems for years, and while Beijing and other Chinese cities are known to be polluted, air pollution is a worldwide issue. This week in Paris, representatives from 195 countries agreed to reduce emissions and deforestation, promote conservation, and maintain the global average temperature below 2 degrees Celcius. 

In the wake of China’s smog epidemic, many environmentalists are hopeful that events such as the Paris climate agreement will help shape a greener future. While air pollution and climate change are difficult to combat, world leaders are working towards a long-term way to decrease emissions and start to reverse the negative effects they have made on China and the rest of the world.

 

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