Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is this the last gasp of winter? I woke to see my village covered with snow this morning. It was pretty, actually, and since it is technically the last day of winter, I guess we need to give the winter one last chance to express itself. It has been a cold winter. But the real problem this winter has been the temperature inversions that have kept the pollution from escaping,this driving up the particulate level and making Beijing really unlivable. I used to laugh at the western media and their descriptions of the air in Beijing. Most of the time, Beijing is really nice in the winter. Beijing has dry cold winters that are sunny most of the time. It's a lot like Denver. Or Prescott, Arizona. But this winter is the worst I have seen. I have talked to old China hands who told me that the air was actually much worse in the eighties, when they used to burn a lot more coal. There is less private burning of coal now, but I there has been much more industrial burning of coal in recent years, and China is not known for clean burning. I am afraid there is just too much corruption for any clean air regulations to be really effective. It would take something like the Olympics to get them to really get serious about cleaning up the air. In China, the government complains about a pollution monitoring system set up by the US embassy. Why would the Chinese government complain about "illegal" monitoring of pollution by the Americans? Obviously, because it makes it much harder for them to fudge the numbers. Chinese people don't trust their own government's numbers, and turn to the US embassy to get the real measure. The Chinese government is understandably irked by that, but it's their own fault. I just can't escape the feeling that somebody is giving someone money under the table to look the other way while they pour filth into the atmosphere.

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