Archive – November 2005
November 05 2005 (03:12:00) US/Pacific ( 1 view )
Last week, Thomas Friedman wrote and article about pollution being China’s most pressing problem. He declared pollution to be the greatest challenge that faces China. Another NYT columnist echoed this view, calling Beijing the air pollution capital of the world. It is shocking for Americans getting off the plane to see and breath the air. Walking home from work, I wonder how I remain alive and how there is enough oxygen left in Beijing for 15 million inhabitants and 4 million migrant laborers. One of these articles described the air I breath as “very dangerous”. Chinese studies show that 400,000 people in the country die prematurely from respiratory illnesses every year. I can only hope that many of those were also smokers, and ordinary breathers of the air are in less danger.
I looked out the window and the smog is still there. Beijing doctors recommend that people don’t leave their houses on days like this. The locals claim that this is not pollution but mist. The mist must have always smelt like car exhaust in Beijing. Of course, I understand that this is an issue of face and I should be more sensitive. The omnipresent sulfurous air is probably a subject that one shouldn’t even raise. Acknowledging the post-apocalyptic conditions in Chinese cities might cause people to doubt the merits of the economic miracle, the new greatest of China.
Chinese weather forecasts say that Northern China is experiencing heavy levels of mist these days. Online foreign weather forecasts say that today is bright and sunny in Beijing. I don’t know what this discrepancy means. What is that stuff outside of my window that obscures the view of the tall buildings on Changan Avenue.
On many days I have been thankful for the view that my fifth floor apartment grants me, but waking up to the gray expanse poisons my attitude for the day. Hangzhou was polluted, but it never bothered me so much. I never had such a commanding view of the deadened air in Hangzhou.
The air seems okay in the rooms themselves, but out on the patio there is a foul smell. I must keep that door closed. Outside the window there is a bird flying. Either it is a remote-controlled propaganda robot, or the locals are right about the mist.
November 04 2005 (16:26:00) US/Pacific ( 1 view )
I will be an obese corpse before no time with this air, with this alcohol, with
these pervasive sugars and meats. If it could all be erased, then
I would be happy.
And what can I do? Where can I go? More imporantly, how can I breath? I suffocate on “GDP growth at all costs”.
They say comrades Hu and Wen recognize these problems. We enter an era
now of “scientific growth”. Every opinion will be legitimate now
if it is “scientific”.
Let the age of science commence!
And may we stop our choking! Please let me exit my room without
inhaling seven packs of cigarettes in one breath…Please let me stop
pretending that while I am inside sleeping my lungs have been
saved. Some of you must understand this new insanity I
feel. I have felt so many different kinds, so many of them
unjustied, so many of them so teenage.
But will any of you deny the fear of suffocation? It is a standard
nightmare. One can’t breath. Nothing is more common for
dreams than flying and suffocating.
I am a complainer. It is too much, and it drives people away from
me. I know, I drew a line between me and them. I carved out
an exile. Now I smile. But being depressive already and
five days of flith in my lungs, and an irascible insanity is
I look out every morning, and I hope that my
windows are too dirty or fogged up. That is not the case.
The moment I wake up I see the gray field. I have prayed for five
days to see a speck of blue. I need for it to happen.
I look across a field of gray with concrete blocks peering out. I look down at the cars emerging from the mist.
Nightfall is a relief. It comes fast but without drama. The grayness of the day yields seamlessly to the darkness of the night. And the blackness somehow tells me the carbon monoxide and sulfur have
vanished. At night, from the nineteenth floor overlooking the Gate of Heavenly Peace obscured by smog for nearly a month, I see only car headlights. In the day, I curse the cars for their crime against my lungs. They are vulgar little insects emerging from the haze they have created. They are hateful, but barely visible. In the night, the car headlights reassure me. The trail of their headlights extends all the way to the gate that I never see. They become beacons that deceive me into thinking that the pollution evaporates with nightfall.
When I finally leave my work unit, I experience the falseness of this hope. My first breath upon exiting the Henderson Centre convinces me that 15 million Beijingers will be dead tomorrow morning. In this windy city of the manmade desert, there has been no wind for five days. How many days of no wind will it take for everyone to die?
The funny thing about all of this pollution, is that my skin is better than ever. Maybe there is some anti-aging agent in low-grade crude or sulfur. Maybe I should thank Capital Steel for my beautiful youth.
Maybe the perservatives in the food help a bit?
Posted by wang on 12/22/2005 09:47:15 PM