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In the News: No Air to Go



Joined: 2/8/2013
Posts: 4
Wonderwelle
As my younger brother and I bike through our suburban neighborhood an enormous truck chugs by, leaving in its wake the foul odor of smog and potent gasoline. We’re submerged in the stench for a moment before my brother comments quietly, “This reminds me of Taiwan.” His words strike a chord in me, because subconsciously I had thought the exact same thing.

My family has only been to Taipei, a bustling inner city on the island of Taiwan, which we frequent once ever other year or so. Taipei itself is thoroughly permeated by a thick layer of smog caused by the dense population and the burning of fossil fuels. Coming from a history of asthma, I’d stare at the pedestrians with their face masks and wonder what it’d be like to have to endure these conditions day in and day out.

The situation intensified hundredfold is the current pollution crisis in Beijing, China. Cynically labeled the “airpocalypse,” is characterized by the immense amount of lung-penetrating particles that linger in the Beijing air and far surpass the amount deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization. The Chinese government has already begun to take action, including shutting down hazardous factories and disposing of idle cars, yet the grayed atmosphere refuses to be dispersed. Campaigns for awareness are circulating heatedly, yet ultimately the problem only proceeds to worsen.

Already school recesses are being discarded in fear of dangerous smog harming the young children, but even that is not enough. Thousands of patients are being admitted into the Beijing Children’s Hospital daily with symptoms caused by the pollution and even newborns are developing respiratory diseases. A prediction has been made that in the near future the Beijing population is expected to be speckled in possession of gas masks and oxygen tanks as common accessories.

This issue does more than just inconvenience and pollute – it represses and harms. It is not a mere thing that can be dissipated in time to come; it is indelible and irrevocable, a scar and stain that, if allowed to expand, can turn the city of Beijing into an uninhabitable wasteland and can choke neighboring nations with its deathly tendrils. The way it’s advancing now, unhindered and unstopped, can only point towards a remorseful outcome.

As the situation begins to come to light, however, young people around the world have three things they are capable of rising. We can raise awareness and ignite a knowledge that alerts the entire world to this problem. We can raise funds to support reforms and projects intended to clear the air of Beijing. And most importantly, we can raise morale and push forward, knowing that together we can tackle and overcome this manmade disaster.

My brother and I, we’re blessed enough to be able to bike mask-free in the crisp air. The truck smog passes and we proceed. As my brother chatters on, I can only hope that one day the children of Beijing will once more be able to see the sun.
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