Chinese Air Pollution Kills 4,000 People Each Day (And Why It Will Kill Many More)

Tyler Durden's picture

Every quasi-mushroom cloud has a silver lining. That was our cynical conclusion yesterday when we noticed that as part of China's tragic Tianjin mega-explosion, thousands of channel-stuffed cars parked at the Chinese port which likely would have quietly rusted away into the epic nothingness of China's unprecedented excess capacity of pretty much everything, were destroyed, thereby one-time reducing at least some of the gargantuan slack in the Chinese economy.


Which got us thinking: if natural disasters, either accidental or man made, are a tangential blessing to the Chinese economy, why stop at the Tianjin explosion? What about the biggest bogeyman facing China today - its environmental catastrophe, demonstrated best by the impenetrable, carciongenic and toxic smog resulting from the accelerated industrialization of the country, and which the citizens of Beijing, Shanghai, and increasingly more cities, have to breathe in day after day?

It has hardly been a secret that the unprecedented level of pollutants in the Chinese air would impair life expectancy and lead to extensive health problems, but even we were surprised to find out the quantification of China's air problem: according to one study, an average of 4,000 people a day are killed in China, as a result of the dense smog.

According to Bloomberg, "deaths related to the main pollutant, tiny particles known as PM2.5s that can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma, total 1.6 million a year, or 17 percent of China’s mortality level, according to the study by Berkeley Earth, an independent research group funded largely by educational grants. It was published Thursday in the online peer-reviewed journal PLOS One from the Public Library of Science."

“When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level: Every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes,” Richard Muller, scientific director of Berkeley Earth and a co-author of the paper, said in an e-mail. “It’s as if every man, woman and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour.”

To be sure, Chinese authorities have acknowledged the air pollution situation after heavy smog enveloped swathes of the nation including Beijing and Shanghai in recent years. As a result, they’ve adopted air quality standards, introduced monitoring stations and cleaner standards for transportation fuel while shutting coal plants and moving factories out of cities. So far, however, all the proactive measures seem to have little result.

“The PM2.5 concentrations far exceed standards, endangering people’s health, though air quality has improved in the first half in the 358 Chinese cities,” said Dong Liansai, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

As Bloomberg further reports, Muller and co-author Robert Rohde analyzed four months of hourly data for some 1,500 ground stations in China. They then employed a model used by the World Health Organization to calculate the disease burden.

They found that 92 percent of China’s population experienced at least 120 hours of unhealthy air during the April 5, 2014, to Aug. 5, 2015 study period. For 38 percent of the population, the average pollution level across the entire four-month period was deemed unhealthy.

Here one may wonder whether the US DOE funded Berkley researchers were pursuing some specific, anti-coal agenda, as confirmed by the following assessment:

"the Berkeley Earth researchers also examined where the pollutants were detected and concluded that the sources of PM2.5s matching those for sulfur dioxide suggests most of the pollution comes from burning coal.


“Sources of pollution are widespread but are particularly intense in a northeast corridor that extends from near Shanghai to north of Beijing,” the researchers wrote. “Extensive pollution is not surprising since particulate matter can remain airborne for days to weeks and travel thousands of kilometers.”


China gets about 64 percent of its primary energy from coal, according to National Energy Administration data. It’s closing the dirtiest plants while still planning new, cleaner ones. The country is expected to shut 60 gigawatts of plants from 2016 to 2020 though three times as many plants are scheduled to be built using newer technology, according to Sophie Lu, a Bloomberg New Energy finance analyst in Beijing.


To cut reliance on coal, the nation also wants to derive 20 percent of its energy from renewables and nuclear by 2030, almost double the current share.

But whether it is due to coal or not, is irrelevant: the truth is that China does have a problem with preserving its environment and keeping the quality of its air. Some examples shown previously:

Pollution from a factory in Yutian, 100km east of Beijing  


Smog In Beijing


 Fishermen clean up oil at an oil spill site near Dalian Port, Liaoning province


Heavily Polluted River In Jiaxing, Zhejiang


Journalist takes a sample of red polluted water in the Jianhe River in Luoyang


Heavily Polluted River

* * *

Which got us thinking: if the Tianjin explosion unclogged the car channel stuffing problem, if only for a few days, then perhaps China pollution serves a different, more ulterior purpose.

Recall that the US social security trust fund is going broke faster by the day since Americans refuse to die at the age they were expected to die when social security was first conceived 80 years ago. As a result, because of progress one of the biggest entitlement systems in the US is on the verga of default.

When it comes to pension and retirement benefits, the US, with its 330 million people, is nothing compared to China with its 1.2 billion and rising. So what is the best way to "resolve" this problem? Perhaps by introducing an external agent, one that culls the population at a pace of 4000 (and rising rapidly) per day.

Because while the number of deaths resulting from China's smog is astounding, something else very surprising is how little progress has been achieved in the battle to clean up China's air in the past several years, especially since any long-lasting clean up would also lead to a permanent reduction in the industrial output of China's manufacturing heartland and lead to, drumroll, a violent drop in GDP, a drop which as the current episode demonstrates, would lead to a collapse in the Chinese stock market, an even greater pop in the housing and credit bubble, and far more violent devaluation of the local currency with the attendant negative global economic impact. Not to mention lead to an extension in the longevity of China's population, which the local actuaries have just one word for: crisis.

Which is why despite all the rhetoric, and all the "reform" don't expect China's pollution problem to get better. In fact, expect it to deteriorate substantially because in the immortal words of that other famous communist, "When there's a person, there's a problem. When there's no person, there's no problem" and China's pollution is taking care of 4000 problem each and every day...

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gwar5's picture

At that rate it will take 3000 years before they are all dead, assuming none of them have any children between now and then. 

Mintcoin's picture

More like 2 billion. ..the population numbers are fudged like every other statistic.

de3de8's picture

TPTB criminal enterprise for all to witness. The unintended consequences of NAFTA. Maybe not unintended as just greed at the expense of human lives smoke screened as progress and a better standard of living. But no worries Odumber is mitigating the China pollution by imposing crippling standards here for minuscule marginal improvements in air pollution. Why do we allow imports from any country that does not have at least some acceptable level of responsible pollution and safety standards? Greed, all I can come up with along with a healthy dose of callous disregard.

Fahque Imuhnutjahb's picture



I had a comment on this thread, that evidently, has been deleted.  Not sure why, it wasn't exceptionally inflammatory---and what if it was, I thought this was "Fight Club" so let me take my deserved down arrow lumps.

This particular comment had one down vote as of me retiring for the evening, but now it's gone.  So, I'm gonna assume a technical malfunction on one end or the other, and nothing more, but I'm gonna re-post it,

probably not verbatim, but close


Seems like when I was a kid there was a saying that the Chinese could walk a single file line of eighteen year old males into the ocean, and at the reproduction rate of that time, the line would never stop.

Now it looks like they're going to test this hypothetical, but substituting pollution for the ocean.

TongueStun's picture
TongueStun (not verified) Fahque Imuhnutjahb Aug 15, 2015 9:41 AM

It's a good thing Democrats are lying about polluton being a global issue, otherwise it would be wrong to double electric bills for Americans, while letting China generate cheap electricity using American coal.

ebworthen's picture

Nukes, don't forget the nukes.

That would take care of billions on either side.

India and Pakistan have nukes; that has kept me awake at night more than once.

greyghost's picture

has anyone googled Berkeley Earth? wtf is zero hedge doing tied in with global cooling fruit cakes like these? until these and other rats completely disavow the cooked research exposed by the e-mails a few years ago I will not believe another word written by these charlatans. did you all catch the reference to soc. sec. in this hit piece? dead humans everywhere....eugenics anybody....ughhhh

edit: berkeley boys at work

1.funded primarily by "unrestricted" educational grants[your dollars at work]                                                                                                                          2.we continue to lower the barriers to entry into climate science!!!!!!! GOOD GOD does this mean any moron can have their data published at berkeley earth regardless as to  any scientific merit????????

richard muller and his wife elizabeth also own Muller and Associates......these two are so far down the rabbit hole of grants, corporate and goverment funding they haven't seen day light for years.....NEVER NEVER NEVER WILL THESE TWO EVER SEE OR FIND A SOLUTION FOR ANYTHING THEY STUDY....EVER

Manthong's picture

It’s no secret that the inner few rings of the circle favor a substantial population cull.

Georgia Guidestones anyone?

Grimaldus's picture

The Chinese are known for murdering their own citizens. For thousands of years, one despotic regime after another so they have quite the history of it. How many tens of millions murdered by Mao during his great leap forward?

The current Chinese government is full of the same kind of killers determined to spread the death around and now they are emboldened by power to spread death to other countries. Sadly, history shows us that millions more will die at the hands of Chinese despots.

Progressive leftists kill. Thats what they do.

Here in the USA, the progressive murderers hero, Obirdbrain's mentor, Bill Ayers, still wants 25 million Americans dead so he can create his "utopia".


The murdering progressive stupid, it burns.





Bay Area Guy's picture

With the exception of Beijing, I've never been to a country that's as universally filthy as China.  I've had the misfortune of going to Shanghai.  That place is overcrowded, dirty and the people are ultra-rude.  Tianjin, where the people are friendly but on a walk with my wife and a couple of other relatives alongside the river, we witnessed a lot of people just standing there peeing into the river.  Xiamen, by the sea, so the air was a little better, but the streets were filthy and the people.....rude; We had to form a flying wedge around my 87 year old mother-in-law (who is Singaporean) to keep her from being pushed over.  Guanzhou, which is terribly polluted.  Jiangmen, about a two hour bus ride from Guanzhou.  The highlight of that city was seeing a father tell his son to take a shit right in the middle of a busy sidewalk.  I told my wife there was no way in hell I'd ever go back to China, but she beat me to the punch saying she refuses to even consider going back there.

Oh, and again, other than Beijing, the hygiene at the restaurants in these cities was deplorable.

Plenty of cleaner, friendlier places in Asia to visit.

i_call_you_my_base's picture

On a trip to beijing the plane couldn't land because the pollution was so bad. We eventually made it the following day and it smelled like burning plastic for a week.

mijev's picture

I spent a lot of time in China and although I had a lot of fun I couldn't live there. My pick so far is Malaysia and I've been here since May. First world living at 3rd world prices. Penang is fantastic but slightly more expensive than other places; KL has everything but the traffic sucks, and now I'm in Johor Bahru right next to Singapore. I like it here in JB but it wouldn't suit everyone. Rent for a new, furnished one bed plus study in a beautiful complex is now $450 a month and probably I could have negotiated lower. I'll stay for a few more months and see how things work out. Penang is a no brainer but the best areas the rent is at least a third more than what I'm paying here. Food is fantastic everywhere and very cheap. Only bad thing is that the beaches aren't up to the same standard as Thailand and they have lots of nasty jellyfish. So I'll stick with the infinity pool. A tourist visa only lasts three months and so I just have a friend drive me over the singapore border and back which took less than an hour on a sunday lunchtime even with four customs stops.

Bay Area Guy's picture

JB is okay. Just no real bus system that I've been able to find. Have you ever considered the Malaysia My Second Home program?

mijev's picture

I have looked at the MM2H program and even started filling out the forms but I think the only reason to go for it would be if I commit to living here and intend to buy a house/condo. I already have a few passports so I'm not in need of a second residence. I think prices will fall here and in singapore over the next couple of years and I also think the government may decide to lift the RM1M minimum purchase for foreigners (you can already negotiate with the local sultan on that anyway). I haven't spent any time in thailand in recent years and prices for condos seem to be much cheaper there but also thailand is more 3rd world from what I can see. For now I'm happy to rent and give me time to work out my options.

hoyeru's picture
hoyeru (not verified) Aug 14, 2015 8:07 PM

Are the required daily "let's find SOMETHING bad to say about China" article starting up again so USA's Corporate Owned Media doesn't have to talk about the polluted Colorado river, the explosion in Texas and the 2 recent oil spills in Southern California?

Yep, it is!

GoldSilverBitcoinBug's picture

Chinese hater, he is.

I have a whole different view of him especially that I have friends and a Girlfriend out there...

goldhedge's picture

All part of JTRIG Ops.

Sages wife's picture

Absorb the Texas news and then ask yourself, "Is there ANY chance that these events are coincidental?"

ebworthen's picture

I guess we exported more than productive capacity and career employment...

Sages wife's picture

You bet! They're gonna get democracy and free trade, one way or another.

petolo's picture

Fuck plastics and synthetics. Our masters have been pushing this lethal shit for 50 years and is killing us, our children and our Earth. what's wrong with paper, natural textiles, glass and BYOC ( bring your own container).  I used to sell illegal raw milk in 4 liter jugs and my customers always brought them clean and  shiny for a refill. Everyone was happy.

mijev's picture

I read somewhere (unconfrmed) that fixing pollution is much more expensive than paying carbon credits so they use the latter option. If that's true then that would expose the global warming movement as total bs.

spoonful's picture

 . . . according to one study, an average of 4,000 people a day are killed in China, as a result of the dense smog.

The consequences of China adopting the capiatlist model coming home to roost.   

ersatz007's picture

The reason it hasn't been fixed is because real capitalism doesn't exist in China. See, if it did then people would be able to vote with their pocket books and wallets by supporting the companies that are environmentally friendly. Easy peasy - presto chango.

bunnyswanson's picture

Yup - Deforestation at age of Gobi and industry during 1950s/Great Leap Forward. 10 min - Burned everything including the furniture to melt steel.

Super Hans's picture

Whatever, I smoke MB Reds. I smoke  5 times a day.


Super Hans's picture

I smoked 1 times per day until she left, then I started smoking more.


Super Hans's picture

I'll smoke  whernver I want!  

I have an average sized cock, aimed to please,


Super Hans's picture

G0 aheade and shootv in the head.


Chuck Knoblauch's picture

The Pope should go to China and address their communist party leaders.

Tell them about climate change, not Americans.


Super Hans's picture

I'ts not the size of the tol ol, it's how you work it!


fattail's picture

Now I see how they can produce everything so cheap.  It's not just wages that are cheaper in china.  Environmental costs must be the cheapest in the world, judging by the amount of pollution they are allowed to pump into t the environment.  I'm sure it helps having grotesque levels of centrally planned endemic corruption  with greasy palms to accept our multinational corporate bribes.  Let them keep it.  It ain't worth it.

roddy6667's picture

Alarmist junk science. The residents of China's polluted big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong live longer than Americans.In the past decade, as Beijing's air got worse and worse, the lifespan rose 2 years. The rural people live much shorter lives in the cleaner air. In fact, HK'ers are some of the healthiest people on the planet. The women live longer than anybody, and the men are a close second to Japanese men.

Once again, Junk Science has a hard collision with the facts. Computer models, extrapolations, inferences, etc, are just guesses. These guesses usually reinforce the personal beliefs of the person doing the "study."

kareninca's picture

They couldn't possibly be making up longevity stats, could they?  Nah, impossible.  Only good, clean data out of China; no-one is motivated to lie there.

BTW, Japan's longevity stats are BS.  A few years ago the govenment sent bureaucrats around to congratulate the country's centenurians, and it turned out a lot of them were actually already dead but the families hadn't reported it so that they could keep collecting the pension.

Apostate2's picture

Hong Kong is not China. Your first false equivalence. Life expectancy stats have been fudged in the PRC since 1949. In fact these records were not collected so there is no baseline, unlike HK. If you put your faith in PRC longevity stats, you are deluding yourself. Of course, unless you have a vested interest in posting nonsence here.

roddy6667's picture

If you don't like something or it doesn't fit into your worldview, it must be fake. I never equated HK with China. It is just one city. I guess you agree with the American government of the economy being in recovery and that America is #1 in everything.

fowlerja's picture

4000 Chinese a day times 365 days/year equals 1,460,000 people per year. Yikes..and what about the other medical problems people are experiencing...time for the US EPA to help out..oh..I forgot..they have a river to clean up first...and it was called "yellow"..

James's picture

Got no time for explanations

Got no time to lose

Tomorrow night you"ll find me sleeping underneath the moon

At Yellow River

Montani Semper Liberi's picture

A blast from the forgotten past!

First time I've seen the video for that song, as MTV didn't exist in 1970. Some hardcore looking hippie dudes right there!

oooBooo's picture

We are told China is polluted because of a lack of regulations. It's a commie government, it's not a regulation problem. People have to live in that filth because the polluters are connected to the government and the government is unaccountable to the people. That's how the USA got polluted. When people got angry enough about it the EPA was created which of course is just a different form of crony capitalist regulation, but at least most was cleaned up. Pollution comes from government and connected businesses. People who are not accountable to their neighbors because the state can tell the neighbors to go pound sand.



lasvegaspersona's picture

Key words 'related to'...

So much of the data to support  various 'causes' is BS. No, polution is not healthy and yes, people die of lung disease BUT... if you add up all of the outrageous deaths blamed on various 'bad things we should do something about' you get numbers much higher than the actual numbers of deaths. I'm betting these same 4000 deaths are also blamed on ('related to' ) smoking, eating bad food, stress and poverty. Satisticians can work wonders for your 'cause'.

AchtungAffen's picture

"Chinese Air Pollution Kills 4,000 People Each Day (And Why It Will Kill Many More)"

"Coal industry fires 4000 people each day (And why it will fire many more)"

Kill people or fire people ZH? Nevermind, everything is obomba to fault...

Matt's picture

4,000 per DAY, not YEAR. There are 365 days in a year, leading to a total of about 1,460,000 deaths per year. Less than a thousand years for 100%. 

Panic Mode's picture

4000 a day??? Is that figure coming from scumbag EPA.

Vlad the Inhaler's picture

If America could just get rid of that pesky EPA, we could be kicking Red China's ASS when it comes to air pollution deaths. 

Arnold's picture

As opposed to putting an ice pick in your ear, which, no matter how much you beg, I will not do for you.

petolo's picture

Fuck plastics and synthrics. Our masters have been pushing this shit for 50+ years and it is killing us, our children and Earth. Glass, paper, natural textiles and BYOC (Bring Your Own Contaner).