The red-alert issued by Beijing was lifted today as shifting weather patterns improved air quality for the first time in weeks. Although the world’s focus was on China’s skies, a dense smog is currently rendering India’s cities unrecognizable—and it’s way more dangerous.
Beijing issued its first-ever red alert on Monday. The radical measure means that half the cars in the capital must stay off the streets, outdoor construction must stop, and schools must close. The pollution is simply too dangerous.
It may sound like a no-brainer to say that trees improve air quality. After all, we know that trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO₂), and that their leaves can trap the toxic pollutants nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), ozone, and harmful microscopic particles produced by diesel vehicles, cooking and wood burning.
No one enjoys choking on smog, but are more trees really the answer for polluted city air? It’s not as clear-cut as you might think. Air pollution is clearly a problem for health and well-being – and as more and more people across the world move to live in megacities, they could miss out on the fresh air associated…
Imagine if you could locate the healthiest route for your afternoon jog, the fresh airiest one that would keep you from breathing the pollutants that cars barf out into the atmosphere. It might change every day as these pollutants move around. But you'd be ready, because you'd be wearing an air quality sensor.
You can literally breathe easier now; new imagery from NASA's Aura satellite shows that over the past 10 years, air quality in the U.S. has improved. It's not to say that the environment isn't still generally screwed, but that's great news, especially if you live in or near a city.
Red, yellow, or green will indicate the levels of diesel or exhaust in the air, while creatively illuminating the scene at a nighttime gathering. If your balloons are mostly red, I'd suggest relocating to a less polluted locale.
Currently showing at the 2nd Skin Exhibition at San Francisco's Exploratorium is this piece of smart clothing by designer Stephanie Sandstrom. Inside it hide a bunch of sensors that measure the nearby air quality, along with drivers that can adjust the fabric. The idea is that on bad air days the dress detects the…