To produce a clear, blue sky for a special celebration, Beijing city officials forced 5 million cars to drive on alternating days for two weeks. The result was spectacular, but, unfortunately, not long-lived.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, Beijing, China prepared for a parade – the largest in the city’s history – to take place last Thursday. There was just one problem: pollution in Beijing has become increasingly worse in recent years, clouding out the azure, blue sky and leaving the city to function in near hazardous air pollution.
In an effort to remedy the less-than-appealing environmental problem, Chinese officials decided to temporarily shut down hundreds of pollution-producing factories across the region, as well as force nearly five million cars to drive on alternating days for two weeks.
On the day of the parade, the city’s air quality index (which is a widely accepted gauge of air quality), sunk to a desirable 17 out of 500. It allowed the gorgeous blue skies to set the scene for the celebratory event. Locals, as well as curious onlookers from around the globe, had the opportunity to witness the city without a cloak of pollution – and liked what they saw.
As CNN reports, the year of 2015 has been one of the most polluted for the city’s Capitol. Recent data from the US Embassy’s Beijing Air, an air-quality monitoring app, reports that particulates in the air often fluctuate between“very unhealthy” and “hazardous.” On a few occasions this year, the numbers were so bad they were deemed “beyond index.”
As LA Times reports, locals enjoyed the healthier atmosphere but were dismayed when they awoke – less than 24 hours later – to find the familiar gray sky hugging the city. As soon as traffic resumed and factories reopened last Friday, air pollution soared once again.
“Military Parade Blue is gone; in its place is our ‘Normal Status Gray,” wrote one user online. While the LA Times cites several examples of such commentary on Chinese social media, CNN speculates that Chinese censors have actively removed similar posts from sites like Weibo.
The two-week ban allowed Beijing’s average levels of particulate matter (PM) to drop by 73.2% compared to the previous year. Imagine what a global shift towards renewable energy sources and electric vehicles could do for the planet’s environmental status.
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