Scientists are worried that China’s laser-deflecting, cancer-causing smog clouds may slow photosynthesis and damage the nation’s food supply, mimicking the conditions of a post-apocalyptic nuclear winter.
As if soil pollution, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals weren’t already doing enough damage to the nation’s crops, the fine particles are wiping out China’s greenhouses; during especially bad air days, particle levels on greenhouse surfaces can get high enough to block out 50% of all light.
The Guardian talked to He Dongxian, a professor at China Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, and the results were not encouraging:
[He grew] one group of chilli and tomato seeds under artificial lab light, and another under a suburban Beijing greenhouse. In the lab, the seeds sprouted in 20 days; in the greenhouse, they took more than two months. “They will be lucky to live at all.”
Beijing residents who have been reading the latest smog headlines (or just looking out of their windows) probably think they’ll be lucky to live at all too.