For four days last week, a heavy layer of smog blanketed Beijing, making buildings disappear, tourist sights look a bit more mystical, and internationally famous football stars cough.
According to official statistics, the PM2.5 level surpassed 400 micrograms per cubic meter and reached 500 in some areas. A reading below 25 is considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO). Visibility was less than 500 meters. Beijing responded by raising its alert level a hue from yellow to orange, the second highest level. You really don’t want to imagine what the city would have to look like to make them raise it to red—probably nothing.
The smog turned The Beijing Tower in the Olympic Forest Park (referred to as “a huge nail” by locals) into flying saucers driving around lost in the haze.
Meanwhile, the People’s Daily building was cleared for take-off to combat this alien menace.
Back on the ground, Lionel Messi was in town on Friday to take part in the America’s Super Derby. According to ECNS, Messi favored his hotel room during his short stay when he was not practicing. When he was practicing he was seen “covering his mouth with both hands and crouching down to take a rest.”
A cold wind dispersed the pollution on Saturday evening, even dropping the air pollution down to levels WHO finds acceptable. But, authorities estimate that the dust and smog will return again on October 17th and 18th.
If you are planning to visit Beijing it’s best to try during a time when there’s an international summit in town, like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that will take place between November 7th-15th. Though, Caixin questions why making the sky look clear for important foreigners is more important than the health of the city’s schoolchildren—who, you know, live there.
At least it is fun for the tourists.
The five-year-plan Beijing announced last year to tackle the city’s pollution problems seems to be off to a shaky start, but it’s early yet. Obviously, the crackdown outdoor barbeques needs to get more extreme.
by Alex Linder
[Images via Sohu & China News]