Blue Skies in Beijing? YEAAA Right

The other week, I decided to present my news report based on the air pollution in China, namely, the efforts being made to combat this major environmental issue. For many years now, devastating levels of toxic pollutants including PM2.5, O3, NO2, and SO2 have consumed China. PM2.5 is a contaminated air particle so small that it can only be detected with an electron microscope. O3 is a resulting pollutant in our atmosphere that is formed when previous pollutants react under the sunlight. NO2 is Nitrogen dioxide and this is a group of gaseous air pollutants most commonly formed as a result of fossil fuel combustion and carbon emissions. NO2 mixing with other air pollutants results in acid rain. Lastly, SO2 is Sulfur dioxide, and this too is produced from the burning of fossil fuels. In addition, SO2 is produced from the smelting of mineral ores that contain sulphur. Like NO2, it is a major component of acid rain. . In 2013, China’s State Council implemented the Action Plan for Air Pollution and Control – which included three goals focusing on the air pollution in China. The goals included PM2.5 reduction, setting a limit on coal consumption, and mandated renewable energy growth. In a way to measure the effectiveness of this plan, a group called Greenpeace East Asia decided to collect data on the pollutant levels in China’s cities and provinces. The article that first drew my attention to this current event discussed the decreasing levels of pollutants in Beijing, a major city in China. Hoping to read something actually cheerful in the realm of environmentalism, I read into the article: “A Blue Sky in Beijing? It’s Not A Fluke, Says Greenpeace” from The New York Times. According to author Steven Myers, “In Beijing, pollution fell 53 percent. Greenpeace estimated that lower pollution levels resulted in 160,000 fewer premature deaths across China in 2017” (Myers, 2018).  Even though pollutant levels have decreased since 2014 in the populous city of Beijing, one should not think that the problem is over. On the contrary, polluting coal and metal industries have only increased their output, causing more pollutants being released! This is happening in places other than Beijing, like the providence of Anhui. Since 2014, O3 has increased from roughly 40 ug/m3 to approximately 70 ug/m3 in Anhui alone. In addition, NO2 is on the rise as well (Greenpeace East Asia, 2018).


Learning this, I understood a little bit more about the complexity of the environmental crisis that China faces. It’s next to impossible for the State Council to make strides with their Action Plan for Air Pollution and Control if the fossil fuel burning and metal industries undermine their attempts! It’s easy to become frustrated when you know so well how awful these corporations and industries are affecting air quality – this means even children are affected – but if it means they can make money…

I have attached the link to the short film by Jia Zhangke, bringing awareness to the daily lives of those in China living in air pollution. When we educate ourselves we can more effectively make a difference.


“We don’t have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment” – Dennis Weaver




Myers, Steven. “A Blue Sky In Beijing? It’s Not A Fluke, Says Greenpeace.” The New York Times 2018. Web. 26 Jan. 2018.

“PM2.5 In Beijing Down 54%, But Nationwide Air Quality Improvements Slow As Coal Use Increases.” Greenpeace East Asia. N.p., 2018. Web. 26 Jan. 2018.

Zhangke, Jia. Smog Journeys. East Asia: Greenpeace East Asia, 2015. film.



3 thoughts on “Blue Skies in Beijing? YEAAA Right

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog! The visuals and the ways in which you went in depth with each description put into perspective the truth behind the current state in Beijing. The visuals reinforce the importance of this issue. They are depressing in nature the dim reality needs to be seen.

  2. I think the visuals you used in this post really further drive the urgency of this issue. It’s awful what people will sacrifice or harm in order to make money. I hope something can be done to improve this situation, I’m just not sure what that is.

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