You Won’t Believe How Bad Pollution In China Has Become

August 27, 2014

With a newly-minted elite and an economic growth rate of over 10%, the environment has taken a backseat in China, the world’s most populous country. Growing pollution has led to unusable waterways, increased incidence of birth defects, and some of the dirtiest air on earth. It’s so nasty that there’s now a word for it: “smogpocalypse”.

With that said, China is not oblivious to its ecological impacts, and according to the Harvard Business Review “is taking this challenge much more seriously than others… doing things differently, making longer-term, sustained commitments that are much larger.” In 2010, China ranked as the world’s leading investor in low-carbon energy technology, which makes sense given national political leaders’ tendency to view clean energy as a great economic opportunity.

The following photographs prove that economic growth indeed comes at a cost, and one whose long-term effects remain unclear:

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Boy Swimming In Algal Blooms

A boy swims in dense algal blooms in Qingdao, which are caused by excessive agricultural runoff and lead to 'dead zones' that become inhospitable for both flora and fauna.

Pollution In China Jianhe River

A journalist takes a sample of the Jianhe River, which has become red from chemical plants illegally dumping untreated waste water directly into a local stream.

Industrial Pollution

Scientists recently warned that air pollution in China has become so severe that it could lead to the equivalent of a nuclear winter across the country.

Algae Lake Hefei China

Pressure on local resources has created a country-wide issue with clean water. Here, a lake in Hefei contains a sizable surface layer of pollutants and algae.

Oil Spill In China

In 2010, a blast in an oil storage facility in Dalian led to over 400 million gallons of oil being spilled. For comparison's sake, that's over four times the size of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Pollution In China Smog

On January 12, 2013, air quality index levels in Beijing were so hazardous that they were beyond existing measurement.

Water Pollution In China

Residents look at the heavily polluted river that cuts through the city of Zhugao in Sichuan province.

Pollution in China Oil Spill

As China's demand for energy has soared, the incidence of oil spills and gas-related pollution will only increase

Pollution In China Beijing Air Pollution

Air pollution has become so problematic that school and work closures due to smog are a regular occurrence in major cities.

Swimming In A Polluted Lake

Trash collection and disposal is more of a luxury than a fact of life. In rural areas, local bodies of water act as the de facto location for garbage disposal.

Pollution In China Industrial Waste

China burns around half the world's coal, reaching 3.8 billion tons in 2011

Pollution In China Photographs

According to Greenpeace, Beijing experienced 2,589 deaths and a loss of US$328 million in 2012 because of PM2.5 pollution.

China Environment Kid Playing With Electronics

Over the last decade, China has become a global dumping ground for the world's discarded electronics. Above, a boy sits in a pile of waste at a scrapping ground.

Buildings Covered In Smog

From Wired: By 2030, China’s carbon dioxide emissions could equal the entire world’s CO2 production today, if the country’s carbon usage keeps pace with its economic growth.

Man In Oil Slude In Liaonin Province

A fisherman wades through the oil spill in Dalian.

Jiaxing City

Three quarters of Chinese cite environmental problems as a national security threat, according to a 2009 study by the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the MacArthur Foundation

Smog In Beijing

According to the World Bank, China is home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.

Dead Fish From Pollution

A local man collects fish that have died from exposure to water pollution.

Green Water

Two thirds of China’s cities don’t meet the country’s own air emissions standards.

China Pollution

From The New York Times: Only 1% of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is deemed safe by European Union standards.

Fuyuan China

A young boy drinks water from a stream filled with refuse in Fuyuan, China.

Fishing In Polluted Water

Every year, 750,000 Chinese die prematurely from pollution.

Dead Fish

In 2007, Chinese officials announced that over one third of fish species native to the Yellow River are now extinct because of damming or pollution.

Barges In Polluted River

According to the Asia Water Project, 90% of China’s urban groundwater is contaminated.

Chinese Pollution Fish

By its own governmental projections, China will have exploited all of the country’s available water supplies by 2030

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We also recommend that you check out these videos by Vice about the severity of pollution in China:

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The Suffocating Smog Of Beijing In Photographs

May 9, 2013

While China’s 20-million and counting metropolis of Beijing is still in the midst of an economic and industrial boom, it’s certainly seen brighter days. This spring, a toxic cocktail consisting of car exhaust fumes, factory and coal-heating smoke engulfed much of the city in a thick smog, causing many residents much grief in going about their daily affairs. Says one mining company executive, “I think people in China have forgotten what the sky looks like. They’ve forgotten what normal is.”

It doesn’t look like “normal” will include the color blue for a while, either. As industrialization surges ahead and many newly-rich Chinese increase demand for their own automobiles, the only thing certain about Beijing’s future is that it will be hazy.

The Mounting Environmental Crisis In China

March 27, 2013

Global concerns have grown steadily over China’s increasingly perilous environmental problems. A country with as many people as every Western power combined, China has muscled itself into international relevance by becoming the world’s biggest exporter. But its meteoric economic rise has sunk China chin-deep into an environmental crisis that is not only the result of its recent prosperity, but appears built into it. Little evidence suggests that it will get better before it gets worse.

The Environmental Crisis In China: Unbreathable Air

Like America, China’s primary source of power comes from coal and both countries’ dependence on the hard stuff is politically and economically entrenched. China’s coal use is far and away its biggest problem when it comes to the environment, and moving on to cleaner resources will be about as difficult as switching methadone for Motrin. Government energy experts estimate that China’s primary energy source will be coal for at least the next three decades. At the same time, a million cars are added to Chinese roads every year, adding to the greenhouses gases warming the planet.

Just last month, the American Embassy in Beijing made headlines when the city’s evening Air Quality Index (AQI) measured a suffocating 775. The international scale stops at 500. To put that into perspective, at the same time Beijing reached an AQI of 775, New York City’s AQI was 19. Most American cities never top 100, with the worst offenders never breaking 200.

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An Illuminating Look At Light Pollution

February 6, 2013

Light Pollution United States

Who would have thought that Thomas Edison’s successful light bulb would lead to increased worker fatigue, aid in the disruption and destruction of ecosystems and become a primary source of radiating energy waste? As the map above clearly shows, light pollution is most severe in urban areas–though its effects, damaging to nocturnal wildlife and the earth’s atmosphere, can be felt throughout the world.

The Red River

September 21, 2011

Taken in Sudbury, Ontario, this stunning photograph captures the Red River of Canada:

Red River Photograph

This phenomena is the result of a nearby nickel factory, where the excess iron seeps into the water and produces the deep red color.

The World’s 6 Most Bizarre Landscapes

May 8, 2011

Most of the time Mother Nature can be pretty boring: a hill here, a tree grove there, the occasional berry patch. Every once in a while the natural processes at work can meet at bizarre angles, forming landscapes that bewilder and beguile — Mother Nature’s believe-it-or-nots. With no further ado, we present the six most bizarre landscapes:

The World’s Most Bizarre Landscapes: Rio Tinto River, Spain

Rio Tinto River Bizarre Landscapes

The blood-red waters of the Rio Tinto River run through the mountainous terrain of Andalusia. The highly acidic, poisonous river – tainted by iron dissolved in the water – is the culmination of thousands of years of human mining.

Cappadocia, Turkey

World's Most Bizarre Landscapes Cappadocia Turkey Photograph

The sprawling region of Cappadocia is a unique maze of natural and man-made marvels. It was formed thousands of years ago by erupting volcanoes blanketing the valley, and fierce winds and rain shaping the surrounding rocks. Over time, inhabitants carved caves, houses and churches into the rocks, establishing the culturally, visually and historically rich region Cappadocia is today.

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