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China Earth Science

China's Anti-Pollution Initiative Produces Stellar Results (popularmechanics.com) 84

hackingbear writes: China has declared war on its pollution -- one of the worst on the planet -- and now appears to be winning. Popular Mechanics reports: "Over the past four years, pollution in China's major cities has decreased by an average of 32 percent, with some cities seeing an even bigger drop, according to professor Michael Greenstone of the Energy Policy Institute. This decline comes after several aggressive policies implemented by the Chinese government, including prohibiting the building of new coal plants, forcing existing plants to reduce their emissions, lowering the amount of automobile traffic, and closing down some steel mills and coal mines. Some cities, like Beijing, have achieved even greater reductions in air pollution. Beijing has seen a 35 percent drop in particulates, while the city of Shijiazhuang saw a 39 percent drop. China has prioritized pollution reduction in these cities, with the government spending over $120 billion in Beijing alone."
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China's Anti-Pollution Initiative Produces Stellar Results

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  • anecdotal (Score:5, Informative)

    by rvr ( 15565 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:10PM (#56256349) Homepage

    As someone living here, I have to say that I do see more blue sky and less haze than I used to.
    My phone displays the Air Quality Index and today it is bad - mid 200s. There used to be 400 days but they do *seem* fewer. Tomorrow is 12 and friday is 39.
    Because the government is all powerful, they shut down 1000s of polluting businesses in Beijing and put in place requirements that made it hard for them to return to business unless they cleaned up their emissions. Of course there are complaints, but Chinese like Americans complain about government, but the Chinese mostly move on as recourse is limited and they know it.
    I am limiting my stay here (one year) because of the pollution, but I may waver in that. That is, waver tomorrow, but not today.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Let's not break out the Champagne just yet. Soil pollution is a much bigger problem than air pollution. Getting the infamous "Beijing blue sky", where the government orders companies to shut down to impress foreign dignitaries with splendid blue skies, is achieved in a few days, getting the soil clean will take decades. And if you check aqicn.org, China, in the Winter, is still mostly red and purple, with their pollution blowing over to Korea and Japan, while most of the 1st world is green or yellow colored

      • Probably some low hanging fruit as well. WRT pollution I think they have a lot of low hanging fruit.

        • by rvr ( 15565 )

          I will add that I see lots of trees planted. 1000's of newly planted (within last few years) trees of all sizes. It's in District Tongzhou where I live, in urban areas. There is also word that China will redeploy 50K soldiers to plant trees this year. So low hanging fruit yes, but also serious efforts as far as I can see.
          It's about my only wish for China - is to clean the air, everyone will benefit.

    • I am of the same opinion, although I do not live there. The pollution issue has definitely improved, and hopefully, it will continue to do so.

      Also, I found that the Chinese people were very nice and welcoming. More people should visit, but will want to avoid rush hours, especially on the subway.
    • Do you think there is merit to this story? http://www.globaltimes.cn/cont... [globaltimes.cn]

      "Two Northwest China officials were punished after their plan to reduce air pollution readings by spraying water cannons near monitoring equipment backfired and left a government building encrusted in ice."

    • I live here too.
    • It makes sense that pollution in the capital would be cleaned up first and foremost.

      After all, those who benefit the most from China's economy would want to be far removed from the negative effects of a poorly regulated industrial society.

  • A lot of people, including the New York Times, admire China's system and say that it's better than what we have in America. [nytimes.com] China is achieving great results with enlightened leadership and this cut in pollution is a shining success story. America couldn't have done it, there would be lawsuits and regulatory capture in the EPA and other important federal agencies. Who's to say the Times is wrong?

    There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have

    • by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:55PM (#56256515)

      The New York Times likes to put over-the-top columns on the op-ed page from both sides of the aisle. It's disingenuous for you to claim that the column you cited is indicative of the opinions of those who run the company. They frequently have two columns on the same page that contradict one another. Does that mean that the New York Times has paradoxical opinions? No. It means it's an op-ed page.

      Even if you take that article to represent the paper's opinion, you misconstrue the author's point. He's not praising China's political structure as much as he's criticizing the ineffectualness of America's system. Considering that your post is so tongue-in-cheek, it would seem that you ought to recognize the same tone in the article you cite.

      You're trolling and trying to turn a non-political story into a political discussion.

      • The New York Times likes to put over-the-top columns on the op-ed page from both sides of the aisle.

        Claiming that there are only two sides is part of the problem.

        It's disingenuous for you to claim that the column you cited is indicative of the opinions of those who run the company.

        The piece was written by Thomas Friedman. He has been the Times' foreign affairs columnist since 1995. He won three Pulitzer Prizes. To say that he doesn't represent his employer well is disingenuous.

        he's criticizing th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When the leaders are good, the people rejoice. When the leaders are bad, the people suffer.

      Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that the leaders are good.

    • The New York times published a provoking editorial. They do this kind of stuff. It's what makes them a new source rather than a propaganda machine. The NYT is not advocating that we have Chinese-style government with press freedoms curtailed and journalists killed/jailed! The column does rightly criticize how hard it is to get thing done in the US. All systems have advantages and disadvantages and people/corporations learn how to game whatever system is in place. Also, water is wet.
    • China is achieving great results with enlightened leadership and this cut in pollution is a shining success story.

      Yep, I just can't wait for the next Trump Tweet announcing that he has declared himself, "President-For-Life", in the Idi Amin sense of the term. That would certainly fly well with the Hillary Clinton crew.

      Who's to say the Times is wrong?

      "I am!" . . .

      . . . "Spartacus!"

      The NYT is paywalled, which is just plain wrong. They should look at The Economist ( https://www.economist.com/ [economist.com] ) as a shining example. They have a free section for headline news, but a paid, subscription service for folk who want to dive deeper.

      Our one-party democracy is worse.

      The US has a two-party

    • by Anonymous Coward

      China will continue to plow ahead. They plan to start 8 new nuclear reactor construction projects this year. They know this is essential for success in reducing emissions.

      The problem with the democratic systems is that the path forward can be clouded by FUD and misinformation. The general public's ignorance and greatly skewed risk perception of nuclear power, along with the misleading impression that wind and solar can solve all our generation problems, are going to be the central reasons why most western d

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @10:22PM (#56256397)

    A win is a win, and of course a drastic reduction in pollution for China is a great thing.
    But all the sources sounds extremely one sided, like propaganda or something.
    32% decrease OF WHAT?

    Because you know, there is a big difference between reducing 32% of normal pollution that's expected on any major urban center, and reducing 32% of a smog so dense and deadly that it looks like you are around a volcano that just erupted.

    Yes, an improvement is still an improvement, but for those curious not about the reduction but about the current state, here's a more informative map:
    http://berkeleyearth.org/air-q... [berkeleyearth.org]

    So the thing is, yes, 32% reduction is awesome, but it's still nowhere near good enough. It's not even close even to major urban centers in the rest of the world.
    To get to the same level of some other countries, China would probably need something more towards 70 or 80% reduction.

    And yes, I know that China's air polution problem is largely the fault of basically the entire global industrialized society - the polution is there because most major countries with the biggest economies in the world just shifted the entire industrial production, with all it's polution problems, straight to China, where we all knew regulation was lax, and welfare basically doesn't exist. So this isn't an attack against China.

    But perhaps let's not celebrate too much when we still have such a long way to go...
    I'm only saying this because perhaps some people don't realize how bad it really is there. It is not a joke when people say that kids, seniors and people with some health conditions could straight up die and suffocate in a normal hot day in some chinese cities without warning, while they could live pretty well in other parts of the world.
    There were days when people walking around on big city streets there got home looking like they just emerged out of a coal mine - exposed skin brown or black with layers of particulate matter.
    India is another country that will have to do a whole ton of work and invest a whole ton of money to get their pollution levels back to a tolerable state. And both countries needs help on this, because in the end it affects all of us.

    • 32% decrease OF WHAT?

      Because you know, there is a big difference between reducing 32% of normal pollution that's expected on any major urban center, and reducing 32% of a smog so dense and deadly that it looks like you are around a volcano that just erupted.

      It's the latter. A few years ago in Beijing I could not stop coughing and thought there was an industrial accident in the area. Now, air was much better than I expected, sorta almost fresh with just a slight acidic scent.

    • the polution is there because most major countries with the biggest economies in the world just shifted the entire industrial production, with all it's polution problems, straight to China
      That is nonsense. No idea why /. is full with claims like that.

  • I've read this comic already. Superman throws the waste into the Sun, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats want the benefits of Chinese style totalitarianism with democracy while Republicans want the Chinese style totalitarianism without the benefits.

  • by IonOtter ( 629215 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2018 @11:36PM (#56256651) Homepage

    We've already been through this, here in the US and Europe. They don't have to repeat all of our mistakes, and our multiple environmental and regulatory agencies make everything freely accessible to anyone who wants them.

    So it should be no surprise when they make rapid advances in cleaning up things, once they get the word from on high.

    No, what IS a surprise, is the fact that the word came down from on high.

    It's almost as if the wealthy and powerful within China realized, "Oh, shit! I don't have anywhere I can run to, if this all goes to Hell in a handbasket! We better make sure that doesn't happen!"

    This is a realization which the rich and powerful of the US and Europe have yet to arrive at.

    • This is a realization which the rich and powerful of the US and Europe have yet to arrive at.

      Of course not, because they all still think they'll be able to flee to China.

      • The pollution in the USA was never even close to that in China today. THis is mainly due to climate differences.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          The pollution in the USA was never even close to that in China today. THis is mainly due to climate differences.

          Actually its due to the US going through the same phase with a much lower population density. Europe, notably the British started industrialisng in the 1700's, the US started in the 1800's. China started in the 1950's, industrailisation meant industries that spouted huge amounts of pollution, for example, people in China were encouraged to have metalworks in their back yards (which produced copious amounts of low quality pig iron). The US and Europe did similar things but with the population densities being

        • You must be very young, padawan.
          Why don't you ask one who has a clue?

    • by Whibla ( 210729 )

      It's almost as if the wealthy and powerful within China realized, "Oh, shit! I don't have anywhere I can run to, if this all goes to Hell in a handbasket! We better make sure that doesn't happen!"

      This is a realization which the rich and powerful of the US and Europe have yet to arrive at.

      I'm pretty sure someone linked to this story [theguardian.com] yesterday.

  • Going from effectively zero pollution controls to basically any pollution controls should show a big improvement.

    If they institute some genuinely strict controls, they ought to really be able to make a major impact.

  • The US EPA and NOAA have found that NOX and O3 pollutants come from Asia, especially China and India. https://www.npr.org/sections/t... [npr.org]

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