I woke up earlier than normal this morning. Why? Sunlight! The first day of February dawned with good/moderate air quality. After a full week of hazardous air, this was a very welcome change. I’d nearly forgotten what a blue sky looks like! It’s also a nice, hopeful note on which to share some disturbing information.
While I’ve already written about the bad air in Beijing lately, the old saying goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The following picture does this for me. I compared the air quality I recorded in graphs in October and November of 2012 with a graph of January’s air and the results horrify me.
For 13 days in January, the daily average air quality was in the HAZARDOUS range. One of those days, the scary day of January 13th, the daily AVERAGE was beyond index (over 550). In fact, the entire MONTH’s average is in the hazardous range. Only 3 days in January had air in the moderate range and NOT ONE DAY was in the healthy range. It’s seriously scary stuff.
The question I keep asking myself is: has it always been this bad? Perhaps I am influenced by the fact that I now keep a watch on the AQI, but I really don’t remember it being this bad in years past. And even if it’s been getting worse since the Olympics, this seems quite extreme. Perhaps in my first year it was close to this bad, but even then I remember plenty of bright, clear days. We haven’t had many of those this year. Today is the first I have seen since… I don’t know. Early December? Although apparently there was a good day or two while I was away in late December.
While I am thankful for my air purifier, I am horrified by how this must be affecting an entire generation of Chinese. How many small children with sensitive, growing lungs are breathing this toxic soup in all day? It’s a high price to pay for progress.