By Erik Crouch
Chart by Bloomberg
Find a smoker, press your nose to their mouth, and wait for the exhale. If you’ve been living in Beijing, the air that comes will be some of the cleanest you’ve experienced in nearly a month. According to the above chart, designed by Bloomberg, Beijing’s PM2.5 ratings since early January are significantly worse than those of U.S. airport smoking lounges, the glass-encased second-hand-smoke-factories infamous for their terrible air quality.
As Airpocalypse chugs along, the data only gets worse. Respiratory-related hospital visits have increased by 20 percent, and the Beijing city government has forced the emergency closure of many factories in an attempt to manage the city’s plummeting air quality. Even China Daily—not exactly an anti-establishment paper—recently featured an article headlined, “Academic claims air pollution is more frightening than SARS virus,” citing how “no one can escape from the air pollution and indoor pollution.”
Beijing’s thick, dark, and particle-filled air has sparked demands for better public-health legislation, as noted by the AFP:
Real estate tycoon and Internet blogger Pan Shiyi — who has 14 million followers on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter — has started a campaign for clean air legislation.
It had attracted more than 46,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
You can’t censor a dark cloud of PM2.5, and even hardline CCP-backers need air. Airpocalypse is rapidly become a political issue, and dissatisfaction will likely only increase until Beijing’s air returns to acceptable levels.