Beijing Smog: Before And After Pictures

Tyler Durden's picture

We could tell readers' that earlier today, just like two weeks ago when Beijing was blanketed by the worst smog on record, the official reading of Beijing air quality moved from "hazardous (at a 24 hour exposure at this level)" to the laughable "Beyond Index" reading (which maybe means Beijing needs a bigger index)...

... or we could just show these two pictures of Beijing before and after the smog: both taken at the same time, at the same place, with the only difference being the latest onslaught of what is now becoming a weekly occurrence of the worst breathing conditions recorded in any industrialized country. 


For those who want to learn more, here is the SCMP:

Key index from US Embassy shoots above 350 and authorities maintain 'yellow' smog warning amid growing calls for action against pollutants.


Air pollution went from bad to worse in Beijing, after residents of the capital and surrounding areas again found themselves inundated in thick smog, leading to broader calls for a solution.


On Tuesday morning, the US embassy’s air quality index (AQI) reading for Beijing stood at 495 and “hazardous” at 11am, after having reached 517, or “beyond index”, at 6am.


The index rates anything over 150 as “unhealthy”, over 300 as “hazardous”, while a reading above the upper limit of 500 is regarded as “beyond index”.


Meanwhile, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre gave the figure at 10am as 393, indicating the air in the capital was “severely polluted”.


The centre says pollution across Beijing is expected to persist because there is little wind to disperse pollutants. It advises city residents to stay indoors as much as possible.


Yesterday municipal weather authorities retained the "yellow" smog warning as visibility remained below 3,000 metres.


Air quality index readings in much of downtown Beijing, as measured by the local environmental watchdog and the US embassy, shot above 350 yesterday - a significant increase from Sunday.


The US embassy's air quality readings, published hourly on its Twitter feed, showed the level of PM2.5 rose drastically throughout the day to 496 at 4pm- far above the "hazardous" level of 300 micrograms per cubic metre.


The Beijing Municipal Environmental Centre, which is under the city's Environmental Protection Bureau, rated air quality in most of the city as being seriously polluted, as PM2.5 readings fluctuated between 340 and 360.


When the level of PM2.5 in the air surpasses 100, it is deemed unhealthy for people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children, and those groups should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion, particularly outdoors, according to advice given by the US Embassy.


The smog also appeared to have spread farther to southeastern regions, with flight disruptions being reported yesterday morning at 10 mainland airports, including in Hebei's Shijiazhuang and Henan's Zhengzhou .


Visibility at the Shijiazhuang airport was reduced to around 100 metres, forcing the cancellation of at least seven flights, and in Zhengzhou more than 10,000 passengers were stranded by 11.30am, as up to 150 flights were either cancelled or delayed, China National Radio reports.

The good news for China is that unlike Japan it will not have to worry about such a petty concern as an aging population: all it needs to do is tell the plebs that the air is good and everyone should enjoy the lovely yellow day and poof: there go a few trillion in underfunded future pensions and entitlement benefits.

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buzzsaw99's picture

Good. Let it hang over China instead of dispersing it to the world.

idea_hamster's picture

"[All China] needs to do is tell the plebs that the air is good and everyone should enjoy the lovely yellow day and poof: there go a few trillion in underfunded future pensions and entitlement benefits."

What?! Mislead the people about air quality?  What a horriffic idea.  I'm sure only a dreadful Communist regime would do such a thing.

true brain's picture

All is as planned. Chincom new propaganda: "T'is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven. "

But then again, this also applies to Spain, Greek, Italy, and the US of No-longer-America.

SafelyGraze's picture

time to redefine "hazardous"


Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Is make Chernobyl to look pleasantly. Maybe new species is evolve in Beijing, too!?

Bananamerican's picture

Broad-shouldered, unregulated, free market, crony capitalism....
Money for nuthin and chinks for free....

Pure Evil's picture

Maybe they can make a new chinese dish from all the yellow sputnam being hacked up the locals.

BTFDemocracy's picture

The air quality at Chernobyl is likely way more healthy today than in Beijing.

I bet if you got a choice of running laps around the reactor/powerplant all day, or run around those pictured buildings in Beijing... you'd be glad to be in Chernobyl.

malikai's picture

"When the emperor passes, the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts."

Big Slick's picture

Silent but deadly

(BTW, we're more polite in my family and call them 'Geithners' or 'Quantitative easing')

thisandthat's picture

Why can't I vote on this comment alone?

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

Because the post starts with a quote.


Using Firefox,

mark the area around the up/down arrows. Right click for "view source".  Copy the up/down link, the 'a href="/long/text/value"'

Paste the link after and you voted.

thisandthat's picture

Seems over complicated for a simple vote, but thanks anyway - have an upvote yourself!

blu's picture

The "indent" format posters like to use to pull quotes breaks the up arrow.

thisandthat's picture

Yeah, plenty code seems broken with zh: strike trough text, url entry form, typing after quoting, this voting thing, tracking comments/replies - heck you can't even use https!

jayman21's picture

+1 for the link.  Up arrow is broke.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

lmao ... perfect illustration for this article.

I am more equal than others's picture

Recently got back from Chongqing and its actually worse there.  Stayed in the financial district and never saw the sun for four days.  Went under the mountains to the west, clear and sunny. 

SilverDOG's picture






Unless you are in the southern hemisphere, you are breathing it as well. 


rotagen's picture

Sign found on Chinglish web site:  "NO SMORKING"

... government hates competition?



Dr. Engali's picture

Long air respirators.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Now, does the Kyoto Protocol take into account the price of PGMs used up in industrial catalyzation of exhaust gases from fossil fuel combustion?  I think I see some kind of association here.

Kayman's picture

What a great opportunity for Al Gore to take his Arab money and clean up the air in his pal Bill's donation central.

Hobbleknee's picture

I'm not saying the air quality is good there, but that looks more like fog than smog to me.  Smog is usually more brown.

Big Slick's picture

Smog may look brown from a distance, but at close range it looks like dark fog (like in the photos).  GoogleImage 'smog' and you'll see what I mean.  I would love to see pictures of Beijing taken from afar.

geotrader's picture

Been there and witnessed it.  The photos are very accurate.

Pure Evil's picture

Maybe they could start a new fad in America. Bottle the smog in little glass/plastic vials and sell it to the idiots in this country. Sorta like a pet rock, you could be the first on your block to be the proud owner of Beijing Smog.

blu's picture

I don't know why they are calling it "smog" since it is mostly fine particulates from exhaust and smoke stacks. Fairly lethal actually once you breathe enough of it.

Agent P's picture

Short Chinese people...well, on average at least.

A Lunatic's picture

It's called an inversion, and they are quite common, especially in winter months.

malikai's picture

In Beijing it's usually caused by a High. The mountains to the west trap and cause inversion-like behavior though. Stagnant air, little to no wind at ground level and up to a couple thousand feet, etc.

I'm in Beijing right now and it sucks. I got some pictures too. They're horrible.

The interesting thing about all this is that unlike large cities in the US, where you have 2GW plants 20mi outside the city, here in BJ, you have a couple dozen 500MW plants right smack dab in the city. Meanwhile, there's practically no heavy industry in and around Beijing, so you can't blame it on steel mills.

The city is damned by geography, when it comes right down to it.

BobPaulson's picture

In Beijing you can also smell that coal smell I remember as a kid in the old industrial heartlands of North American and Europe. I had forgotten what that smells like until I went there. It comes from the sulphur and particulates typical in old style coal combustion.

EscapeKey's picture


Shitters_Full's picture

FORWARD is an anagram of CLEAN COAL.  Try to deny it and J-Nap and I will introduce you to our shiny new Personal Defense Weapons, bitchez.

malikai's picture

It's true. It smells like styrene to me for some reason - probably because of the time I spent in Houston some time ago.

I've been thinking about the lack of scrubbers issue around here and I'm not sure how they would deal with it. If you use a scrubber, you need a large bit of space for your ash settling pond, which there is none of around here with these plants in the middle of the city. And even if you have an ash pond, you still have the issue of what to do with the ash once it's "dry". Even back home we're not so good at dealing with fly ash as shown with what happened at that TVA plant on the emory river in 2010.

WillyGroper's picture

I thot they spread it on golf courses.

blu's picture

The Chinese make breakfast cereal and pet food out of it.

imapopulistnow's picture

In Beijing it's usually caused by a High.

Must be smok'in some serious weed....

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

imapopulistnow said:

In Beijing it's usually caused by a High.

Must be smok'in some serious weed....

...or AnAnonymous is tokin' up bigtime at the Peoples Liberation Opium Parlour.

CheapBastard's picture

Same with Tuscon, Arizona and Phoenix. I used to wonder why people were movng there "for their arthritis" since that's not deadly, only painful. The serious pollution in Phoenix and Tuscon is deadly...well a slow dirty death:


Metropolitan Tucson is surrounded by mountains, predisposing the area to frequent temperature inversions.  During this time the valley fills with colder air containing higher concentrations of air pollutants, as compared with mountain slopes above the temperature inversion layer.  Air pollution in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) is considerably higher than that in Tucson.


There are many more polluted cities in the Southwest that formerly were "clean." Austin and Dallas are two good examples of medium sized cities that now have "pollution alerts" ...more due to crowding, congestion and auto traffic then inversionI don't think a shortage of food will be out problem in the  future (a la Malthus). I think it's going to be pollution--radiation, pesticide saturated foods, filthy air, etc. as someone on ZH wrote the other day.

Curt W's picture

Salt Lake City is probably the worst for getting prolonged inversions.

My brother has not seen the sun in 20 days, last tuesday the high was 22 and the low was 19.   The inversion is so thick there is no warming during the day or cooling at night.

aerojet's picture

If you're in your 60s or 70s, the arthritis factor is a lot more important than the slow death by pollution factor.  You're not going to live long enough to be affected by the pollution if you're already that old!

blu's picture

Pollution makes all the other health issues a lot worse. There is some evidence that particulate pollution from diesel and cigarettes can cause arthritis.

Just one such summary:

There are many more. But nobody cares, you can still drive with either arthritis or cancer.

Jena's picture

It's the overall inflammatory factor.  Control the inflammation, reduce chronic reactionary conditions.  Particulate matter causes the body to respond with inflammation.

a growing concern's picture

Denver's pretty bad too. Straight from the airport you're greeted by a nice brown cloud hanging over the city in the distance. One can only hope that NWO types have severe respiratory difficulties.

Jayacts's picture

In LA, we've nearly lost all our blue skies. After a good rain, the planes come out to spray and within a two days, we are just sitting in a grey cloud.