Scream Now

Our leaders still allow industry to self-regulate, still set pollution levels dangerously high … and still refuse to sign an agreement with the rest of the world determined to mandate those levels and reduce our emissions. Enough is enough, now we need to stand up in one voice and make sure they hear us, before the air is so full of pollutants that we can all eat and breathe at the same time.

What is it really going to take to get the message across? Perhaps scenes from science fiction becoming reality will do the trick. Scenes where clean air is the new crack, sold by every type of gutter scum on darkly lit streets in the middle of the night. Rationing of clean water, and just to top it off, recycled urine becoming the newest additive in our favorite soda.

Just in case you think this article is simply another scare tactic to gain headlines and take a poke at China, you’re wrong. Just the other day the Shanghai Environmental Authority showed their resolve and found a novel way to control their problem. They finally realized that the smog is a big financial problem and they need to cut back on the amount of alerts they give so as to allow aircraft to fly on time, and factories to run at their peak performance. The winning approach, rather than treat the problem, is to lift the alert levels for a particulate known as PM2.5 (particulates smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) from 75 million per cubic centimeter to 115. That will make it better. Let’s try that for a while and if it doesn’t work they can just raise the limit again … give me a break, that’s as stupid as raising the blood alcohol levels for drivers to cut back on the number of DUI’s but maintain alcohol sales.

Considering china’s Air Quality index is currently hovering around 400 parts per million of PM 2.5, a level considered “Hazardous” to every living thing, they are going to have to keep changing that warning level for a while. Thankfully the Chinese government has come out and blamed, of all things imaginable, fireworks for the poor air quality of late. Right, and the obesity epidemic in the United States is because of the abundance of spoons…

We have learned over the years the Chinese love to cut corners in their manufacturing processes, for instance, using lead based paint in children’s toys because it is cheaper. Apparently they hold the same standards for their own children. The international School of Beijing recently spent 5 million dollars on huge plastic domes to cover their outdoor play facilities so that children can play outside even when the air hits toxic levels. Because in China, they care about the kids … About as much as they care for stray cats.

Not everyone in China is worried about the smog cloud, though. Chinese military theorist Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong told a publication aimed at Chinese youths that such a dense smog could be a defense against “laser weapons”, given that heavy smog can impede or block the technology. Seriously … “Smog with PM 2.5 readings of 500-600 is virtually impenetrable to lasers. In clear weather, laser weapons have a range of 10 kilometers, but smog can reduce this to less than 1 kilometer,” he said.

So, they’ve got that going for them.

Next page: What They Don’t Have is an Escape

By Aaron Styles

A provocateur, and writer for more than 25 years, Aaron has simplified and humanized the complicated areas of politics, the environment and human interest issues. Skeptical by nature and anonymous by requirement, Aaron enjoys nothing more than getting the conversation started.