This Week in the World: Smothered by Smog

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By Ruby Rizvi, News Editor

Since the Industrial Revolution, pollution of the air, water, and streets of cities has been a problem. As time progressed so did the problem, with more and more factories, cities, and plants being built.

Many years later, despite the numerous methods of renewable energy, pollution is still a widespread problem, especially in China.

Towards the end of February, Chai Jing, a former TV news presenter, released a documentary exposing the extent of the recent smog issue in China. The video went viral almost instantly, attracting the attention of major news outlets such as CNN and ABC news. The video showcased the blanket of hazy air that blanketed the city of Beijing that was so severe, city-dwellers were walking around with masks on their faces to prevent themselves from inhaling too many toxins.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, China has a population of over 1.3 billion people, accounting for about a fourth of Asia’s total population.

Along with it being the number one producer of goods made and sold in the world, it’s no surprise that the country is plagued with pollution. Markets such as those of technology, apparel, and recreational goods outsource the production of their goods to China.

Although these industries bring in revenue and boost the economy, they are also major contributors to the pollution of China’s air.

“The fact that these people have to live their lives pretending that it’s actually safe for them to breathe the air over there isn’t fair. Something has to be done. This isn’t a humane condition to live in.” Armstrong freshman Kyle Swint said.

Swint is a passionate environmentalist and advocate at Armstrong. He discussed the recent events in Savannah regarding the polluting of the Ogeechee River by King America Finishing a textile company here in Georgia, and how pollution isn’t just some foreign issue to be brushed off. “I think that this is not only a China issue, but a world issue,” Swint said.

Soon after the video went viral and began showing up on news sources across China, the Chinese government decided it was time to shut it down. Officials from the Chinese government began pulling down the video from Chinese websites and restricting news outlets from discussing it.

“I think it’s disturbing that valuable information about the severity of the issue is being shielded from them,” sophomore English communications major and communications director for Go Green Armstrong Emily Smith said. “It just goes to show how good we have it here as far as our ability to access information goes.”

The heavy cloud of smog dissipated on Sunday, however many are still concerned about not only the state of the environment but the health of the Chinese people.

“It’s going to be hard to target the large companies that have factories and plants in China, because they are basically the backbone of the country’s economy,” Swint said. “I think maybe if they start small, like less cars, more walking, maybe find ways to make more small things electric, they could tackle the problem from the bottom up.”