China’s government warned people in north and central parts of the country to stay indoors today as heavy smog blanketed the region.
The level of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, was as much as 287 micrograms per cubic meter at 4 p.m. in Shijiazhuang in the northern province of Hebei, neighboring Beijing, according to data from the China National Environmental Monitoring Center. That level of smog, the highest on a government scale from one to six, triggers warnings for people to avoid outdoor activities.
The smog levels today step up pressure on the government to make good on pledges to reduce coal consumption, shut steel plants and control the number of cars on the road to ease pollution. A growing number of Chinese cities have announced emergency measures to fight smog amid rising social unrest over the health effects of a spoiled environment.
Levels of PM2.5 hit 612 in Jinan today before easing to 346 in the afternoon, according to the government. The World Health Organization recommends 24-hour exposure to PM2.5 concentrations no higher than 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
Maybe China-cheerleader Tom Friedman can enlighten us and explain how, after digging down deep, this is actually good news for China and its economy.