Forget filtering facemasks or having to stay indoors — we’re done running. It’s time to face the issue and smugly slug the smog.
It’s been around in the major industrial Chinese cities for a while now, and is an offset of the phenomenal, (mostly) coal-fuelled economic growth rate of the last three decades, with the figure as high as an amazing 10 percent.
The smog has seriously hindered visibility in Harbin, causing a shutdown of the city’s international airport and its major highway late last year, and the obvious health hazards are still very much alive and well. Thanks to it, Beijing lost 2,589 lives in 2012, if Greenpeace’s report is valid. The 2008 Summer Olympics host city also lost an estimated 2.01 billion RMB in economic costs within the same year, thanks to the smog.
It, it, it. IT. What is “it,” then?
It’s NOT a Stephen King novel, though it’s managed to fill up several newspaper columns as the stellar 1986 bestseller did, but for the wrong reasons.
It’s PM2.5 smog, which translates to “particulate matter of up to 2.5 micrometers in size.”
Just a few facts:
1. Game of Thrones: China rules the roost in global coal consumption, burning nearly half the world’s coal, reaching 3.8 billion tons in 2011.
2. Better in America: The highest PM2.5 level ever recorded in traffic-clogged New York in a 24-hour period was 29 micrograms per cubic meter, while the highest for Los Angeles — a city known for its beautiful, smog-enhanced sunsets — was 43. Readings in Harbin last October topped 1,000.
3. Health Hazard: PM2.5 is considered the most dangerous type of airborne pollution because the particles are so fine — about 1/30 the average width of a human hair — that they get lodged deep in people’s lungs. The soluble part of those particles enters the bloodstream, while the insoluble part accumulates in the lungs, leading to hemo-toxicity and a range of heart problems. Elderly folks, children, and pregnant women are most at risk.
What’s that saying again? “If you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em,” right?
An elementary school in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, got really tired of Mr. Pollution’s rubbish, and is all set for some serious smog takedown, developing a special set of martial arts moves to help students “haze the haze.” The 23 sets of moves should supposedly enhance physical fitness and strengthen the lungs, which will help expel harmful substances from the soup-thick smog.
Examples of some of the names of the movements include: “embracing the moon” (怀中抱月, huáizhōngbàoyuè), “separating heaven and earth” (开天辟地, kāitiānpìdì), “splitting Hua Mountain” (力劈华山, lìpīhuàshān), and “lifting the moon from the bottom of the sea” (海底捞月, hǎidǐlāoyuè).
Facemasks are for sissies.