Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


That's what they call it now. The pollution has really been bad these days.

Beijing actually has very nice winters most of the time. Beijing is a windy city, and the prevailing wind is from the northwest, so if you live in a village up in the western hills, as I do, you would see nice clear air anytime there is any kind of breeze. So much of the time, the air is quite nice. But that doesn't mean the air is not being polluted. It is being polluted every day. And cleaned every day. Until there is a temerature inversion, or some such phenomenon that shuts down that process. Then all the filth being poured into the air just stays there.

It used to amuse me when I saw pictures in the international media showing how polluted Beijing was. It seemed like they would only show pictures of smog and pollution, because that is what they considered newsworthy. But after living here for awhile, I began to realize that I end up doing the same thing in a different way. If I am going to put a picture on my blog, I would naturally put the picture that looks the nicest, which means that people who read my blog might get a picture of Beijing that was unrealistically optimistic. Especially in the summer. Winters are generally quite nice, but the summer is really bad. The humidity seems to trap the pollution. But I don't worry about it too much, because I usually go to the western part of China in the summer time.

But this winter has been different. Especially the past couple weeks. The air has been cold and still, inviting the pollution to build up to the point of being really awful. The picture above shows how stark the contrast can be. Both pictures are acurate. The question is, which will be most common in the future. Grab the slider on the picture with your mouse, and drag it back and forth to see how much the two Beijings differ.

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