Jan 16, 2013

Smog: Don't Bash China Before Looking At Your Own History

Well to say this first: This needs to be under control. Smog is harmful for people and the environment. But the new reason for western media to bash China is not the solution.

Manchester, England. Picture: Public Domain
The problem is, that the industry in China is growing so fast. Let's remember how the time of industrial revolution was elsewhere.
There was the 1930 Meuse Valley fog in Belgium.
The 1939 St. Louis fog, where the area was kept dark for 9 days.
And the well known disaster of London 1952. "The Great Smog". 1 foot sight, dark, and highly lethal. Numbers going up to 12,000 people died from this event. SO2 was up to 3.82mg per m³ air. 4 days of environmental horror.

Nelson's Column during the Great Smog of 1952 ...
Nelson's Column during the Great Smog of 1952 Original description: Nelson's Column in December. Foggy Day in Decemeber 1952. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is that making the current situation in China any better? No, but we have to acknowledge that there will be no quick solution. We had our lessons. And still, if our Industry would be a quickly growing as the Chinese one is doing at the moment, you would have to show me that politician, that would try to stop the industry in the US e.g.
The Chinese government, believe it or not, is working hard to get this under control. There are some rules that in many areas, China is even more environment friendly than most  western countries. The problem is the pure mass of industry.

There will be no quick solution. So yes, the newspapers and media can make a sensational story as long as they like, that won't help. Unless someone can do magic, it will take decades. But maybe I'm wrong, because the Chinese government already made some big projects happening insanely fast. But this is a basic problem. Either you stop your industry (will not happen) or you need to get more and better systems to make those industrial facilities cleaning up their pollution. This will take some time.

You know how the UK engaged the smog-problem in 1956 with the "Clean Air Act"? Mainly by restricting chimney smoke from citizen houses.
Welcome to our own past.