A Load a Cold Air
People around the world rang in 2017 with bubbly drinks, sparkler lights, and fireworks. Beijing’s New Year Day’s was off the charts. Literally. At 3 pm on January 1, 2017, the Air Quality Index (number that quantifies air pollution) was beyond a measurable value for particulate matter. Aka there was a ridiculous amount of pollution.
That photo wasn’t taken 40 years ago nor does it have an Instagram filter on it. That sick pic was taken on January 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm — the day after the city released its first red alert for severe fog due to pollution.
It’s no surprise that Beijing has an air pollution problem. It’s been the quintessential modern example for smog right before Los Angeles in the 60’s and London in the 50’s. The issue with Beijing is that despite the regulations put into place, not only does much of the power to the city come from burning coal, but smog from the surrounding providences also travels into Beijing, like this cute little vid.
Pop Quiz! Is air pollution worse in the summer or winter? Considering this quiz is coming to you in January and most likely aren’t ‘down unda,’ you can surmise that the pollution is worse in the winter. As people spend more time inside due to inclement weather, they need more energy to power lights and heat. Moreover, something called an inversion layer takes place.
Usually, warmer air is below the cooler air in the atmosphere. An inversion layer happens when dense cool air gets trapped below less dense warmer air. So while the cool air feels like this
as the pollution builds up, the warm acts like a lid and takes a seat on the cooler air.
Eventually, a low pressure system moves into place and knocks everything back to normal. So while Beijing may be fine in a day or two, and the city’s pollution problem is supposedly getting better, the health effects that remain with the people breathing in that air aren’t as temporary. How’s that for a load of cold air?