Friday, August 06, 2010

Air Pollution in China !!

An article published in The Economist on August 5th, "Pollution in China" is very intriguing, especially the image published below.

The picture presents the percentage of clean air days in Beijing, accounted in terms of air quality index.

Residents of Beijing, who hoped the clear skies they enjoyed during the 2008 Olympic Games would persist, have also resumed their grumbling. Smog is back with a vengeance. A stimulus-encouraged car-buying spree has further clogged city streets. Provinces around Beijing account for much of China’s recent record levels of (air-fouling) steel and coke production.

Definitely, during the Olympic Games, the city experienced the best of the clean air days, for a number of reasons, including stringent regulations for multiple sectors to ensure the same (see UNEP Assessment report), but since then it has deteriorated gradually.

The impact of air pollution on the human health and the ecosystem is increasingly being linked to the growing transport sector.

Another article in the Economist, praised the efforts of China in promoting the electric motor cycles, which provide 30-50 kilometers for a fraction of the cost of the fuel spent in the regular motorcycle. The charging takes 5-8 hours, depending on the battery power, but the travel is safer and faster than the regular bicycles, and the environment is clean.

In 2008, 21 million electric bicycles were sold in China. Were there any subsides involved? Chinese makers are also in the business plug-in hybrids, expecting to sell at least 400,000 in 2009.

Henry Li, the head of BYD Auto's export and trade division (China) says, "We are not trying to save the world, we are making money. Our strategy aims to give value to shareholders. If we can help the planet at the same time, all the better" and well positioned to be the World's Leader in electric cars (NY Times).

Yes, we need to find ways to power these vehicles. Power plants are an option (in spite of Dr. Hansen saying no to them). As far as the air pollution is concerned, emissions of PM, SO2, NOx, and the likes are easy to control at a power plant than emitted at the ground level and into our noses on a road (and causing more health damage). The pollution out of a power plant stack disperses farther than the emissions out of a car or a bus.

There is silver bullet to cure air pollution.. more awareness is required on the sources and mitigation at the source is the best solution !!

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