China’s Air Pollution Resembles “Nuclear Winter”

According to scientists in China, the air pollution of the country is starting to slow down photosynthesis in plants, in addition to covering it’s most populated cities in a blanket of thick smog.  With a population of 1.35 Billion people, it is not hard to imagine that something like this occurring.  However, it is also something that can be at the very least slowed down if the population were to work together and try to make a positive impact.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China is set to (probably does now) have as many people driving cars as the United States has people- about 300 million.  If one assumes that 411 grams of CO2 are emitted traveling one mile in a car that travels at about 22 MPG, and you also assume that only half of China’s driving population travel 20 miles a day, you could calculate how many grams of CO2 are emitted into China’s air in one day: (411 grams/1 mile) x (25 miles/1 Person) x (150 million people) = 1.54 x 10^12 grams of CO2/day.  

Obviously there is much more to the problem than simply people driving cars around, but if more people decided to bike or take public transit it could very well have a larger effect on the environment or at least slow down the amount of CO2 being emitted into the air.

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4 thoughts on “China’s Air Pollution Resembles “Nuclear Winter”

  1. tiz5080

    Lots of major cities in China face the problem of haze. And I believe the major cause of haze is the emission of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from coal combustion, which provides large amount of China’s energy and its electricity, and is primarily used by coal power plants, heavy industry such as iron and steel and cement factories, and for residential heating in the winter; emissions from vehicles, particularly heavy vehicles such as trucks; and dust from construction sites. So in China’s case, CO2 is not the biggest issue, but the dust in the air. Moreover, the centralized city planning model and the density of population cause those dust cannot disperse by natural ability…

  2. Karen Kuo

    I agree with you that if more people take a bike or using public transportation to work it would reduce plenty of air pollution. However, I think that is not the major problem causing the situation in China. I grew up in Shanghai and I have lived there for more than 10 years. Any public transportation in Shanghai is always packed and carrying way more people than you can imagined. Buses, subways, bikes, and automobiles are all always packed with people. I felt the high amount of population with the really dense carrying capacity of this centralized developed space is the major issue of China.

  3. wzd5072

    I think the problem is not only about CO2. Actually, the pollution that CO2 brought us is not even that horrible. It is not a noxious gas at all. The main problem is the pollution including noxious gas and inhalable particles in the air. Indeed, cars in China made a great contribution on aggravating the air pollution level. But the contamination caused by large meaningless construction project is way larger than that caused by cars.

  4. Jayson Chang

    Very interesting topic. I visited China this past summer, and as soon as I stepped outside of the airport, I could see and even smell the contaminated air. However though, I did see a lot of people riding their bikes to work. In fact there’s actually a parking lot for bikes next to the hotel I stayed at. This situation might be different for every county. I know that places like Shanghai and Beijing have better air qualities because I also travel to those places during my visit.

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