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Beijing review: the pollution

I’m a bit hesitant to write up a multi-part review of Beijing since each part will undoubtedly end up sounding completely negative and I don’t want to paint myself as one of those guys that hates everything, but I really did hate Beijing and I’ll need more than one post to properly explain why I hate the place. Look at the bright side, at least this way you get some reasoning behind the hate, rather than me just writing “Beijing sucks, don’t go there.”

So, what’s wrong with Beijing? Where do I start? How about with the pollution. It’s everywhere. A lot of days it seems like a low fog has rolled in, but you know it’s not fog. You can’t mistake the smell of burning for the smell of fog. It’s so bad that when you blow your nose, everything in the napkin is black. Now, that’s not normal, but for some reason people in Beijing don’t realize that. My friend’s university professor actually asked her class of study abroad kids if the pollution was that bad. Black snot and the constant smell of BBQ? Yeah, that’s bad.

How did it get so bad? Industrialization.

Cloud factory in Beijing

You don’t have to travel far in Beijing to see one of these smokestacks pumping smoke out daily. (I took this photo right behind the Google building in Wudaokou.) According to good old Wikipedia (which you can’t read in China, by the way), the constant coal burning, construction, and other sources of air pollution have lead to over 500,000 deaths each year. Of course with the upcoming Olympics, China is trying to clean up the place, even going as far as seeding the sky in hopes of generating more rain. But that just makes me wonder, if they let things get this bad, do they even care about their people? Would they try to clean it up if the Olympics were being held in a city elsewhere in the world?

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