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Posts: 660

Shifu

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Q: What is up with the air pollution recently?

I live in Hangzhou, and it seems there has been a sudden and sharp increase in the pollution over the last month. I have been here for a long time and never noticed it being this bad.

 

Anyone know why? Is it the same where you live?

10 years 13 weeks ago in  Health & Safety - Hangzhou

 
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Maybe it is the colder weather: people turning on heaters and an increased demand for electricity. crying

ironman510:

Sorrel is 100% correct, CNN has also confirmed this, it's the heaters being reactivated, it'll clear after 36 days.

10 years 13 weeks ago
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10 years 13 weeks ago
 
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Same thing in Suzhou, Jiangsu

   * Usual level of pm 2.5 pollution is 140
   * Since Saturday, level is at 200

   * Since yesterday, level is peaking at 300
   * For reference, Paris is at a level 30 to 40... on the bad days.

My throat is itchy, foul taste on my tongue.

I don't have any data for solid explanation :( I tend to think like Sorrel. Weather is getting cold, people turn the heating on. Most of the heating is done with electric power, itself generated mostly from coal. Moreover, insulation for buildings seems to be unknown hear, walls are bare concrete, single glazing is the rule. So it makes the heating very inefficient, requiring more electric power, thus more coal burning. People have more money, so they are less restrained to turn the heat on. Some weather pattern might push the nasty cloud of pollution from North this side of the Yellow River.

DrMonkey:

Update... Satellite views of China's East coast : a huge, thick, gray cloud. It's what we are breathing. It's what the kids are breathing. Keep putting guanxi before regulations, it's the way to win.

10 years 13 weeks ago
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Governor

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even in my city, which prides itself for the clean air, it's been dismal lately.  normally i would attribute it to the weather like sorrel and the good old DrMonkey, but in the northeast the weather hasn't been as cold as it was in the past few years... yet.  so less need for heaters.  we have had less wind this winter, and we are known for being a windy province.  so maybe the pollution has just been building up and not being pushed out... which i guess is caused by weather... so i put my foot in my mouth... my answer is weather.

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Governor

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Same story in my province, Jintan- Jiangsu. Really really smoggy and polluted the past 4-5 days I've noticed. Real bad, I would have even wore one of those masks if I had one, as it's pretty scary to look at. 

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Shifu

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Here in Nanning it is the same. The AQ index on my phone normally rates the city at between 50 and 80, we have even been down to 34. At the moment it is 173 and it has been up and down for the last couple of weeks. Certainly not as bad as some places but bad enough.

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10 years 13 weeks ago
 
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The last 3 nights, when I've been out, I come back smelling like I've been at scout camp grilling marshmallows and sitting downwind from the fire. I actually didn't think it was done all the way down here, but smells like someone is burning coal to stay warm. (despite the temperature being 20C) 

Most o China's heat is produced by coal power, a lot of people also have electric heaters. Sadly in most cases the powerplants that produce power doesn't also use the heat from power production to heat water for central heating. Add to this that all the plants are of Vicotrian design and no filtering is done of what comes out of the chimneys.

andy74rc:

Add also, like somebody already said, the cutting edge design in energetic efficiency of the buildings. Considering they''re also cheap to buy......

10 years 13 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

yup. I have no doubt that the building we live in could have it's total energy usage cut in half had the designers not had their heads way way way up their ass when drawing the building. 

why don't the Chinese copy building design?

10 years 13 weeks ago
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andy74rc:

It's the "polish the turd" way. The best in the world in doing it.

 

10 years 13 weeks ago
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Nessquick:

yeah, building design. Our bedroom is "outside" with 3 walls being free, like when you stick an smaller box to an existing big box. so the cold air is running all around bedroom. windows are double-glassed, but not tight closable, just the sliding way, which keeping lot of free space for cold air coming in...

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Governor

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Maybe it's the beginning of a new catastrophe...mother earth is about to get a new hairdo.

Nessquick:

The catastrophe already started several years ago, yet no one here is willing to accept the fact

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I heard pig blood can clean our body. Maybe it's worth a few meals.

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See the Air "Quality" here http://aqicn.org/map/china/

 

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10 years 13 weeks ago
 
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China absolutely refuses to make improvements. They instead choose to make excuses,blame others, or point at other countries and say they have/ had the same problem. 

This is why things in China are getting worse with no hope of improving.

Mateusz:

Unfortunately, that's the truth. China responds to all problems the same way, any thing to absolutely not take responsibility, and so the problem never gets solved.

10 years 12 weeks ago
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Shifu

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Nanjing has reached up to 440-450 as of today.

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10 years 12 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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Nanjing has reached up to 440-450 as of today.

andy74rc:

Don't worry, the level will be 25% lower by 2020. You will not have more than 300-350 then

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Shifu

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Shanghai is beyond 500 now, WTF...Xiamen - 154, that's unusually high too...

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10 years 12 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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Update, something is going on. I was bothered that I couldnt see across the river before, so I asked this question. But I just woke up and looked out the window and I cant even see the building across the street.

I thought about getting a flight out of here til it blows over. But all flights are grounded due to zero visibility...

 

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I predict this winter will be just as bad or worse as last winter. The big cities in the north will disappear in a thick cloud of toxic crap. The difference this year is that the propaganda ministry is prepared, they've curbed peoples ability to share their bitching on Weibo and WeChat. NOTHING has been done to improve the air quality, but over the last year 20000000 people have moved from villages to the big cities, probably millions more cars on the street and even more problematic, more old cars that are for each day of being ill-maintained, output thicker and thicker exhaust. 

On the bad days a lot of people will be wearing surgical masks because they think it helps. The state run "information channel" know as CCTV will do nothing about telling people how dangerous it actually is or how to protect themselves. And there sure as hell will be no reporting from a place like Seoul, Frankfurt or New York, where people live in harmony and breathe relatively clean air

Scandinavian:

http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/asia-pacific/20131206/83687-shanghai39s-air-pollution-hits-record-high.html

 

Heavy smog blanketed China's financial hub Shanghai, causing air pollution in the city to spike to a record high on Friday (December 6).
 
"The city saw levels of PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, reach a reading of 600 at 3 p.m. local time (0700 GMT), the local environmental protection bureau said.
 
Levels above 300 are considered hazardous, while the World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20"

10 years 12 weeks ago
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andy74rc:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-12/08/content_17159653.htm

 

"In a plan unveiled in September, the Chinese government vowed to clean up the air by cutting coal use, closing polluters and promoting cleaner production. The plan aims to cut the density of inhalable particulate matter by at least 10 percent in major cities nationwide by 2017.

"We must face up to the realities," said Yan Naiqiang, a professor of environmental science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. "The treatment of smog will be a long battle."

It is rather difficult for one single department to tackle air pollution, said Zhou Jun, an official of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau."

10 years 12 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

yes, I just don't believe they will actually go through with that, and in the artcle just before your quote there is a quote from a guy saying "blah blah blah it's the weather blah blah blah" thye are not fessing up to it being the fault of past development without thought on the environment. NOTHING in modern China was built without knowledge and technology available to do it a lot better. 

10 years 12 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

and it is really easy for a single department to tackle the pollution, it is just a matter of stopping burning coal. http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/campaigns/air-pollution/solutions/ If there is red tape everywhere, then that is just a sign of shitty leadership isn't it. 

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andy74rc:

My quote was meant to be somehow ironic.....unfortunally.

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Honestly, cars are just a small part of the problem. Coal for power generation is the massive culprit here, I think (based on a Wikipedia page, coal-induced air pollution is like 90% of it). So why this winter is particularly bad ?

Some hypothesis, just hypothesis

* Higher demand for power. Plausible, but still, why this crazy jump in pollution levels. Suzhou is around 140, we are 350/400 now. (Note the lofty standard, 140 is the norm, when 50 is supposed to be bad already). How it could have doubled/tripled in one single year ?
* Using low quality coal. Low quality coal is cheaper to mine, but the exhausts are worse, and the smell of the smog is consistent with that. The economy is slowing down here, and any information related to the economy is strictly under control. Maybe using cheap & dirty coal is a way to cut corners ?
* More coal-fired power plants ? But they did not like double the count in one year, so I would not count on that. From one source, I saw there are about 300 coal-fired power plants under construction right now. Yeah, the kind that does not filter the exhaust, like all the existing ones.
* Uncommon weather pattern, where the exhaust of the coal-fired power plant stays trapped in China's East Coast instead of flying away as usual.

By elimination, I would say it's a combination of uncommon weather pattern and using really nasty low-quality coal. Using coal in such massive quantity (roughly 75% of the electric power productio here) is terribly wrong anyway. That stimulus package from 2008, why not spending some of it for cleaner power ? Ho, wait, that would benefit everybody, not a minority.

Scandinavian:

Road vehicles account for about 25%. This is very high considering the relatively low number of cars (yes, China has very low people:car ration) The level of crap i the air coming from cars is this high due to the state owned oil companies not producing fuel of a very high quality. A small Volkswagen in China pollutes more than the same car does in Germany. 

 

China will kick and scream and blame the western countries for it being their fault for exploiting the cheap labor, but they will forget the huge donation of funds to combat pollution that came as a consequence of the Kyoto (I believe) agreement. 

The coal fired power plants are built without filtering. There are plenty of green-tech companies from the west queuing up to sell clean energy solutions to China, but instead China is funneling money into it's own copies of those same industries to kill the competition and not actually get any products developed. 

This is where you can see if the leaders value prosperity over lives. Or in another way, if they see the party's survival as more important than the health of the population. 

10 years 12 weeks ago
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andy74rc:

They're spending for a cleaner power already, don't forget the 29 nuclear plants under construction... indecision

10 years 12 weeks ago
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DrMonkey:

Ok, cars run on cheaply refined fuel, making for nastier exhausts than properly refined fuel. But that's still 25% of the pollution. The largest chunk is from coal-fire power plants, running without exhaust filtering. All those electric vehicle running on electricity (made where ? made in China) are indeed running on coal (with not great overall effiency). Nuclear energy is the only way to make gobs of energy for cheap. And yes, management with Chinese characteristics for nuclear plants sounds scary :(

For energy production, there's a triangle. Pick two of the three
* Cheap
* Large quantities
* Clean
And we agree on this, human lives and common good weight peanuts in China.

10 years 12 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

@Andy. The number of power plants is not 29, I think you are thinking about the number of new reactors under construction. http://www.iaea.org/pris/CountryStatistics/CountryDetails.aspx?current=CN

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