Is the Smog Blinding You From the Greater Issue?
by Julia G. on January 29, 2017 - 12:46pm
The Guardian has been providing factual newspaper articles since 1821. One of the correspondents for this newspaper is Tom Phillips who is stationed in Beijing and continues to provide readers with articles addressing international matters. Out of the many works that are written by Mr. Phillips, the one piece in particular that intrigued me the most was: "Beijing Smog: Pollution Red Alert Declared in China Capital and 21 Other Cities" which was published to The Guardian on December 17, 2016.
In the city of Beijing, populated by 21 million people, a red alert was set in place to protect the citizens from the toxic smog that corrupted their metropolis. The smog, which is a form of air pollution, was so severe that it prompted a citywide lock down confining residents to their homes for five days. Those who had no choice but to go outside were urged to use protective masks. The safety of the population's health was one of the city's main concerns during this crisis. For instance, schools were forced to close in order to protect the children. In addition, in order to prevent pollution induced activities, the citizens were prohibited from using vehicles that were not fuel-efficient. Furthermore, road construction was suspended until the smog was lifted, and factories responsible for producing a lot of pollution were instructed either to reduce their production or to shut down their activity all together. The city officials were very strict in terms of this pollution-induced disaster. Those who used their barbeques or started a fire outside were reprimanded, as the officials believed that those types of activities are responsible for the smog. However, an advocate of the Greenpeace environmental group claims that barbeques are not the cause but coal-fired power stations are responsible for the heavy pollution. There were toxic particles such as PM2.5 in the smog that derive from coal which threaten the lives of the population as it causes respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, as well as heart diseases. Although citizens stopped using their high-emission vehicles, and high polluting factories' production was stopped, it only lasted for five days. The red alert was only a temporary fix in the problem China faces against pollution. The greater solution in this case is to decrease coal consumption, as it is the most used fossil fuel in the world. Indeed, China is the country that consumes the largest amount of coal. Therefore, this nation should strongly consider finding alternative sources of energy. Citizens from all over the world should not let the smog hinder their ability to see the greater issue at hand.
Environmental issues are quite important seeing as though there are over seven billion human beings living on Earth. Every year there are between 300, 000 to one million deaths caused by air pollution. Not only is the environment being harmed, but the lives of the global population. Whether the problem is happening 20 kilometers or 10 000 kilometers away from you, it is affecting the future of the world we live in and that our kids will live in. Regardless of where our nation falls on the political spectrum, there is always something an individual can do to help fight environmental issues. Every vote; every bottle we choose to recycle; or every dollar donated to an environmental organization will count. Collectively, if every country commits itself to the multiple international treaties regarding the environment, the possibility for change, and the effects such acts would have, would be nothing short of miraculous.