Saturday, September 10, 2005

China--Pollution Capital of the World?

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BBC online posted this photo today of a soldier standing in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

I recognize the sunrise.

I saw the same sunrise in London when I first visited there in 1966.

I saw the same sunrise again in Moscow in 1982.

I have not seen such sunrises in subsequent visits to London. Why? Because they cleaned up their massive coal-powered industrial emissions.

What we see in the photo is air pollution of the worst kind. It is unhealthy. It coats buildings and clothes with crud. If you have asthma, you might die.

I have seen the same sunrise in Northern California caused by the smoke from major forest fires.

Even in Hawaii we can get a somewhat similar sunrise when the Trade Winds shift to the south and blow the volcanic "vog" from the Kiluea volcano on the Big Island across Oahu. This is called the "Kona Sick Wind" by many people because, when it comes (usually in the early Fall) there are increased incidences of brochial pneumonia, asthma, allergies and upper respiratory ailments.

Some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen have been through a polluted haze somewhere.

I am glad that there are fewer and fewer places to see them in North America. Even Los Angeles has only a few such days each year. Our environmental policies have done us all a great service....even though the sunsets are not nearly as dramatic as they once were!