In an incredibly tragic move by one of the most polluted cities in the world, Beijing has taken to using giant video screens in Tiananmen Square to project images of beautiful sunrises and blue skies since none can actually be seen amid the thick grey smog in the city.
The severe smog this week is the worst China has seen since January 2013. Similar images circulated then, when the LED screens in Tiananmen Square broadcast clear blue skies during an air pollution crisis that was termed the Airpocalypse.
Last year, my friend Ellen, who lived in the city, referred to the Airpocalypse often, but I always assumed that was her dramatic term for the situation. Who knew things were so bad it became a bona fide descriptor of the situation?
Pollution is often worst in the winter since stagnant air conditions combine with the increasing carbon emissions. This week, air pollution topped 20 times the World Health Organization’s recommended exposure levels. Wait, what? 20 times?
City officials have repeatedly asked residents to wear protective masks when they are outside and avoid all physical activity outside.
Air pollution is driving expatriates, like Ellen, out of Beijing, and it’s even making it harder for companies to recruit international talent.