This Map Helps Explain China’s Pollution Problem

Population Density China

China is home to one-fifth of the world’s population, as well as one of the starkest divides between the rural and urban. As evidenced by this map, when split roughly in half, 94% of people live in the more urbane cities in the east, while a much smaller percentage of people (6%) lives in the west. Such high numbers in cities can go a long way in explaining the issues the country faces when it comes to pollution.

Spectacular Ice Sculptures from the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

While spring, summer and fall have their upsides, there’s no better time of year than winter. Overflowing mugs of eggnog and warm evenings by the fire are just the start–the season is full of family, warmth and an extra couple of days off of work. Winter also marks the start of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which officially launches each January in Harbin, China, and is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking ice sculptures.

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China’s Digital Landscape

Despite–or perhaps even because–of governmental censorship of the internet, China’s digital landscape is vast, abundant and growing. So much so that Tencent, a host site for everything from gaming to messaging, is the third largest internet entity in the world. What’s more, it has no Western counterpart.

The Incredible Chinese Pollution Problem

Imagine a place where the word “sky” doesn’t conjure the color blue but an ashy grey. No, such a place isn’t in another planet or the set of a dystopian sci-fi film. That place is present-day China, a country now living and breathing the harsh effects of dogged industrialization. In northern China, the heavy use of coal coupled with the ever-increasing population has led to an alarmingly extreme case of air pollution. It’s so extreme, in fact, that a person’s life expectancy in northern China is a full five years shorter than someone residing in southern China. As the size of the middle class continues to balloon, there is an insatiable need for cheap and easy energy. Quickly turning to oil and gasoline for fuel and coal for heat, the Chinese love affair with fossil fuels has plunged an astounding amount of people into an atmosphere ripe with danger.

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