Air Quality

[Photo] Lost in the World

As I have noted throughout this week, the air quality in Beijing has been poor the past couple days. The AQI usually is high during the morning rush hour period and then it cools down during noon and the AQI kicks backup again around 4pm. But what happens when pollution and working late night happens? This happens:

Photo taken at Guomao Central Business District at 1am.

I have been snapping photos around Beijing all week of this pollution so stay tuned for a photo essay from this entire week. Oh, by the way the Track “Lost in the World” by Kanye West has been on repeat for me all week.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.

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[Quick Update] Beijing AQI reaches 500

I just checked the AQI in Beijing and believe it or not we have reached the maximum 500 mark. AQI is a scale devised by the US-based Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With an AQI of 500 it states “Health warnings of emergency conditions”. What do we do now? For more information of interpreting the AQI in a Beijing context please visit the My Health Beijing Blog.

Image taken from http://iphone.bjair.info/

 


[Air Quality] Today at 3pm vs Two weeks ago at 3pm

Every morning when I wake up in Beijing, the very first thing I do is to open the blinds to see how the air quality is outside. Two seconds later I’m either in an extremely good mood or I close the blinds immediately and fall back to sleep for a couple more minutes or so. On a lucky week, Beijing does get its share of blue sky’s but when its really polluted, I can’t walk outside without a mask.  The Air Quality Index does a pretty good job measuring the air quality in Beijing as I have noted in my previous post. For reference, Air Quality Index (AQI) of 470 on a scale of 500 looks like this:

On the other hand,  two weeks ago at the same time at a AQI of 100 looked like this:

As you can see, it’s quite a difference. The lesson here is to be thankful when you have a blue sky and don’t take it for granted. I think these visual comparisons make it easy to understand and I’ll be coming up with more comparisons in the future.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Natural Resources] Baotou, Inner Mongolia the ‘Capital of Rare Earths’

This whole week I’ve been talking about Inner Mongolia so it’s only right that I end this week with another post on this topic. The very last leg of my trip before returning to Beijing was spent in the city of Baotou (包头).  This city with a population of 1.7 million might not be that well-known but it’s a city with great significance to the global economy. Recently, there’s been much talk on how China is cutting its exports of rare earth to the industrial states. This is a problem for states like Japan and the US since many of the hi-tech manufacturing rely on China’s rare earth. According to International Business Times, “China supplies 97 percent of the world’s rare earths, used in computers and clean energy technology such as wind turbines and electric cars”.
China is saying that they are cutting the exports of rare earths to enhance their domestic green energy but from what I saw in Baotou, the Capital of Rare Earths, I think China still has a long way to go in accomplishing that. Baotou in Mongolian means ‘Place with deer'(which I saw none) but besides the central much nicer part of the city, Baotou was really polluted. This was by far the most polluted city I have seen in China. Now, when you see local Chinese residents wearing masks, you know it’s really polluted. Mines and workers. Those were the two main characters in Baotou. I don’t think the workers know or care about any of the stuff going on in the international scale but to me, I could see that they have no choice but to keep producing and selling to make a living.
Baotou has won some recognition as it has made distinct efforts to transition to an environmental friendly city. But as I saw, the outskirts of this city could still use some work. But judging from how much cleaner the central part of the city is we can conclude that there is some progress that has already been made. Here are some snapshots near Baotou’s mines.

From Baotou to the rest of the world.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Photos] Streets of Shanghai

Before I start talking about this group of photos I chose to post, the air in Beijing today was amazing the AQI dropped from high 400s to about double digits today which was really nice. The rain came from no where yesterday. I enjoyed some really good steak yesterday for a monthly Charity event(I will be posting more about this later).
But for today’s post I wanted to post some street pics from Shanghai. During the Expo, or should I say after 2 years since I left Shanghai, this city has changed a lot. Compared to Beijing most roads are nicely built and it was very comfortable to live. One can easily feel that Shanghai was the doors to the west during the Expo. All the street food vendors were gone and my beloved Nanjingxilu Street Food Street was also taken down. Some of the largest pirated DVD shop streets were gone as well. To top it all, the air quality in Shanghai was really good. Most people tell me that this is due to the fact that Shanghai has been burning Australian high quality coal instead of the ones from Shangxi province, which makes a large difference in a city this big. Ill be putting up Expo photos, tomorrow.

Picture #1: I wanted to focus on the design of the tiles for this shot. It was taken in Times Square in Shanghai by People's Square. This is where are the big spenders come to shop and so you can see a lot of fashionable people. This was a cloudy day but I think I got my message through this shot.

Picture #2: Walking west from Times Square towards Xintiandi area you'll see Shanghai's newest Apple store. It's hard to believe that there's only a handful of Apple Stores in China. i also wanted my attention to go towards the Police officer navigating the busy intersection as cars pass by.

Picture #3: Taken at the Expo Village in Pudong. The workers and student ambassadors from all over the world were given nice housing during the Expo. I think shanghai Architecture and the designs inputed into the modern apartments are really interesting. This was a photo that I had to take.

Picture #4: Is much lively as it was taken at People's Park. During national holiday, there was a lot of people in the park just chilling, playing games, or even parents looking to match up their sons and daughters with potential candidates. It was interesting to see elders ride the swings as well.

Creative Commons Licence
Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at gokatayama.com.


[Air Quality] Beijing Air Quality Index

Just checked the Air Quality Index in Beijing cuz it just looks terrible outside. I can’t see more than 200meters away from my office. The lucky number today was 294.. that’s 6 away from 300, which makes us enter the hazardous stage. In the Hazardous stage, Healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms and may trigger other illnesses. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise. Healthy individuals should avoid out-door activities. I was kidding yesterday that we might in fact hit 300 today but I had no idea this would really happen.


(Info from AQI)


[Air Quality] It’s Official, China’s Air Quality is getting worse

The Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report does a pretty good job reporting on current events in China but today’s headlines was something that I just had to blog about. Yes, we all know that China’s air isn’t the best in the world but it’s now a fact according to this article, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection acknowledged last month that China’s air pollution levels rose in the first quarter of 2010 for the first time since 2007. Also even better news came out, “The first half of 2010 had the worst air quality since 2005.” I’m starting to think that using a mask might be a necesity.  But to understand how bad the air over here I think it’s better to quantify what exactly I’m talking about. My friend introduced me to the “US Embassy’s Air Particle Index”. Measured from 0-300:

0-50 Good
51-100 Moderate (Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion)
101-150 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion)
151-200 Unhealthy (People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion)
201-300 Very Unhealthy (People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion)

So the lucky number in Beijing today is 233. Oh wait a minute, it just jumped up to 239.
The US government has their own twitter feed that is updated daily with Beijing air quality index.
Yup, China’s goint through alot right now, the worst  flood in decades and another heat wave with this pollution problem, China’s got a handful.

But trust me, China is trying.
It’ll be interesting to see if we can hit the big 300 mark by the end of this week. Not.