Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Beijing’s reputation for smog may be lifting. In 2013, the city’s pollution was so bad that people called it an “air-pocalypse.” Readings for PM2.5, a tiny pollution particle that can adversely impact human health, hit 900 micrograms per square meter, 90 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended daily levels.
Why This Matters: Air pollution is a killer and one of the leading causes of early death in people. Worse yet, poor air quality causes 1 million deaths in China each year. Cleaning up Beijing’s air means that the city’s 21 million residents are able to live healthier lives. Cleaner air and blue skies might also continue to drive China’s environmental strategy—recent research suggests that “the low-carbon energy policies, traditionally regarded as a primary result of climate mitigation, are likely driven more by the efforts on air quality attainment in China.”
Clearer Skies Could Mean Warmer Temps: Most of China’s clean air policies have focused on reducing aerosols and pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2). While this is good for people’s respiratory health, it might have the inadvertent impact of increasing temperatures by 0.1 degree Celsius. Sulfate aerosol emissions are terrible for the lungs, but they also can absorb and reflect solar radiation. From 2006-2017, sulfur dioxide levels in China fell by 70 percent, reducing their cooling effect.
“The success of Chinese policies to further reduce aerosol emissions may bring additional net warming, and this ‘unmasked’ warming would in turn compound the challenge and urgency of international climate mitigation efforts,” the study authors write. “This unmasked warming may require more efforts to mitigate climate change. . . Policymakers could consider implementing measures that simul- taneously help to reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. For example, future policies in China could facilitate the introduction of more renewable energy to the country’s coal-dominated energy system.”
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer An Indonesian district court ruled yesterday that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has neglected Jakarta’s residents right to clean air. In a unanimous ruling in favor of the 32 residents who brought the case, the Central Jakarta District Court ordered Widodo, and six other top officials deemed negligent, to improve […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Decreasing air pollution increases people’s life expectancy by an average of 2.2 years, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that by bringing pollution across the globe down to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, a collective 17 billion years could be added to the planet’s population’s […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer As the Caldor Fire burns through the El Dorado National Forest, the area around Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada, has developed the worst air quality in the county. On Monday, the Air Quality Index hit 694 in Tahoe City. An AQI above 300 is considered hazardous and can cause serious health issues. The […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.