Astonishing satellite image shows China covered with pollution

Illustration for article titled Astonishing satellite image shows China covered with pollution

The smog situation in China is getting even worse, with pollution levels as high as 30 times the limits set by the World Health Organization. Check out this image taken in late December, 2013 by NASA's Terra satellite. You can't barely see anything because of the crap floating in the air. It gets even worse at full size:

Illustration for article titled Astonishing satellite image shows China covered with pollution

So gross and dangerous. From NASA:

The dense, gray haze obscures almost all the land and much of the coastal waters from view south and east of the Taihang Mountains. Clearer air covers the region north of the mountains, although fingers of haze roll through most river valleys. The cities of Beijing and Hebei, both west of the Bohai Sea are complete enshrouded.


On December 24 the pollution level reached 30 times the limit set by the World Health Organization:

The concentration of PM2.5, which are fine air particulates, were reported at 421 micrograms per cubic meter at 2 p.m. near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, while levels were 795 in Xi'an and 740 in Zhengzhou. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 concentrations no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

The situation is getting dramatic thanks to the use of coal in power production and homes:

According to Michael Greenstone, a Professor of Environmental Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), [...] noted life expectancies were about 5.5 years lower in the north, owing to an increased incidence of cardiorespiratory mortality.


Fortunately, the country is working to reduce the pollution. Their plan includes the shutdown of all coal-burning plants by 2017.

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I traveled to Shanghai for 2 days on business. On the 4th floor of the hotel I was staying in I was barely able to see the ground. It's actually hard to breathe when walking around. These people are going to have some serious respiratory issues when they are older.

How sad.