A thick blanket of smog has suffocated several cities in northeast China this week, including the capital of Beijing where particulate pollution was recorded as being “off the charts” by the U.S. Embassy. The Chinese government has been surprisingly transparent in its reaction and has released continuous updates on air quality through state-run media.
Back in the U.S., NPR painted a clear picture of the smog’s impact on mainland China in a before-and-after photo posted today on its blog.
For years China has grappled with air pollution as a side effect of the country’s rapid growth and development. Before the 2008 Olympics, critics warned that Beijing’s air could pose a threat to athletes and visitors alike. In the years leading up to the games, the Chinese government took drastic steps to reduce the impact of pollution that resulted in a reduction–but not an elimination– of smog.
In the following clip from The Aspen Institute, Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows spoke in conversation with China expert Orville Schell on the country’s growing impact on the global environment.