Chinese officials are worried. Not about inflation... not about growth... not even about pollution per se... but security. As the South China Morning Post reports, government officials are raising concerns about the function of its vast network of surveillance cameras because of the thick smog blocking visibility for some of them. In a truly central-planned world, there is nothing more dangerous that not being able to keep an eye on the population and officials fear that threat of terrorism could be heightened on smoggy days. Improving air quality in China has been often discussed but a new military team is looking for a solution (as security trumps health it would appear) - harsher punishments on polluters are needed to help improve air quality in China, a senior Chinese official said here on Tuesday.
China Invasion 101 - Wait for a smoggy day...
To the central government, the smog that blankets the country is not just a health hazard, it's a threat to national security.
Last month visibility in Harbin dropped to below three metres because of heavy smog. On days like these, no surveillance camera can see through the thick layers of particles, say scientists and engineers.
To the authorities, this is a serious national security concern.
Existing technology, such as infrared imaging, can help cameras see through fog or smoke at a certain level, but the smog on the mainland these days is a different story. The particles are so many and so solid, they block light almost as effectively as a brick wall.
"According to our experience, as the visibility drops below three metres, even the best camera cannot see beyond a dozen metres,"
The government has come to realise the seriousness of the issue and commissioned scientists to come up with a solution.
The National Natural Science Foundation of China funded two teams, one civilian and one military, to study the issue and has told the scientists involved to find solutions within four years.
"Most studies in other countries are to do with fog. In China, most people think that fog and smog can be dealt by the same method. Our preliminary research shows that the smog particles are quite different from the small water droplets of fog in terms of optical properties," she said.
"We need to heavily revise, if not completely rewrite, algorithms in some mathematical models. We also need to do lots of computer simulation and extensive field tests."
"On the smoggiest days, we may need to use radar to ensure security in some sensitive areas," he said.
"It has to be a contingency device," Zhang said.
And the harsher penalties are coming... (via English.cn)
Harsher punishments on polluters are needed to help improve air quality in China, a senior Chinese official said here on Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a press conference less use of coal and emission reduction for automobiles were also crucial to tackle air pollution.
He said increased air pollutants caused by growing social consumption of fossil fuels were the main cause of the worsening smog, which has severely affected people's health.
Those who take irresponsible decisions that lead to severe environmental consequences need to be punished according to the law, he said.