News / Asia

    Smog Stokes China Pollution Debate

    Large parts of China were blanketed by smog this week as choking pollution loomed well above levels considered healthy. The long stretch of polluted days has intensified the debate in cities such as Beijing over just what can be done to clear the air.

    For many in China, pollution in January was miserable.  Tiny hazardous pollutant particles in the air, or PM 2.5, reached unhealthy levels for long stretches. During the last week of the month, smog hung over cities and towns from Liaoning in the north to as far south as Guangdong.

    Polluting industries, construction and the widespread use of coal for heat were blamed. Authorities said the weather made the situation worse. But increased attention is also being directed at cars, especially in cities such as Beijing where the number of automobiles has grown explosively in recent years.

    In Beijing, the government already restricts drivers of private automobiles from using their cars at least one day every week, but some say that is not enough.

    Xu Yuan, 31, who works in retail says it’s reasonable for the government to consider more restrictions.

    Xu says that while this might make it less convenient for some people when they go out, more restrictions would be better on the whole for the environment.

    Those who drive, however, have a different view.

    Partial solution

    A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
    x
    A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
    A woman wearing a mask walks on a heavy haze day during winter in Beijing January 29, 2013.
    One man surnamed Wang says restrictions on car use are only part of the solution.

    Wang says factories around Beijing and construction in the city are also part of the problem. He says that while cars are perhaps the easiest part of the equation to handle, more should be done to address the issue of industrial pollution.

    Wang Bing also relies heavily on his car for transportation. He says that having even more restrictions would be tough because car driving for many is a habit.

    Wang says not only would restrictions make transportation more difficult, they would make people feel like they do not have legs because cars have become people’s legs.

    To try and rein in China’s smog, the government has begun requiring a 30 percent cutback in the use of public vehicles on days when pollution levels are bad.

    Violations

    Beijing journalists found that despite the requirement, many violated orders to not drive public vehicles when the pollution was peaking. According to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily, while some 8,000 vehicles were supposed to be banned from use, nearly 900 drivers ignored those orders.

    Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at the Beijing University School of Public Health, says there are some basic measures that could help limit pollution from cars.

    Pan says that authorities could seek to lower emissions from cars by raising standards, and that raising the quality of fuel could help.

    Fuel quality

    Some argue that low-quality fuel in China, containing high amounts of sulfur, is part of the country’s pollution problem. But improving the quality of fuel carries downsides in China, where cheap energy remains a priority.

    Pan says that if efforts were made to improve the quality of fuel, prices would most likely go up and that is something that would take some time for the public to accept.

    Analysts say that in addition to addressing the issue of fuel quality and inspection standards for cars, doing more to address the problem of traffic congestion in cities such as Beijing is also crucial. They note that when cars are backed up in traffic jams and moving at a slower pace they create five to 10 times more pollution.

    RELATED VIDEO: China Experiments with Carbon Trading

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: balij from: USA
    February 03, 2013 3:17 AM
    I recently read an Article about How some china entrepreneurs are cashing in on air pollution and I was very surprised , More about that article is on

    http://wallstnews.blogspot.com/p/asia-edge.html

    by: jason from: IL
    February 01, 2013 2:29 PM
    I will buy a car powered by electricity in China.

    by: Jonah from: US
    February 01, 2013 12:15 PM
    This would be a good time to move toward hydrogen fuel cell technology...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.