Wednesday, January 23, 2013

There and Back Again


It has been a long time since my last post. I know that you have been craving news from Beijing. This time though, I think the international media already informed you of our recent happenings: air quality in Beijing has been at an all-time low the last few weeks. (Can those Olympic Games perhaps come back again?)

Having been here two years, I don't really look up from an index that is 200-300 (considered "very unhealthy" by the U.S. EPA air quality index) or even 300-400 (already in the "hazardous" zone), but when last week Saturday the index rocketed to a 682 "beyond index" score, even I had to do a double-take.

"Beyond Index" !  (This is a screenshot from my iPhone.) 

Luckily, today is already so much better. Only 435, so at least we are back on the index:

And here is a picture of what this kind of pollution looks like. The photo below is Beijing Riviera around 11:30 am today. Despite the nice Chinese New Year decorations (the year of the snake is about to start in two weeks) our neighborhood looks kind of dreary.

Even though this very informative article by the World Resources Institute explains that Beijing's air pollution isn't so much a result of the rapid increase in cars on the Beijing roads, I would like to report that I saw a very suspicious driver on the streets this week. (Child protection services: I don't know who the boy is, but I think his parents are otherwise very responsible.)

In het Nederlands: Het nieuws had Nederland ook al wel bereikt denk ik: de afgelopen weken hebben we weer een goede hoeveelheid smog mogen inademen. (Zie bijvoorbeeld dit artikel: "Beijing, lucht meer vervuild dan meetbaar". Ik kan niet genoeg zeggen dat we in een jaar toch ook wel ontzettend veel mooie dagen hebben, maar deze vuile nevel is natuurlijk geen pleziertje. Onze wijk is mooi versierd voor het Chinese Nieuwjaar dat binnenkort begint, maar door de luchtverontreiniging ziet het er allemaal toch wat troosteloos uit!

1 comment:

  1. So as a practical matter do you all wear masks? When I lived in Jakarta, pollution was bad but nothing like Beijing, which has both man-made pollution (cars, power plants) but also the huge amount of dust from the loess plateau west of the city. So what do you do?

    Anyway, hi and hope you are well. We are going through the transition to becoming part of something called Engility and it is painful (sigh).