The Year of the Horse is here! Bring on the Fireworks! Bring on the SMOG!

Friday, January 31, 2014 7:26
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LAst night, while enjoying a hot pot with friends and doing my best to ignore the CCTV New Year extravaganza, I was taking screen shots from my CN Air quality app to see if it would be possible to show the impact of fireworks on China’s air quality.

As you can see, over the course of the night things got measurably worse.  Large areas of the country that started off the night in fairly good shape ( less than 100), quickly moved into 100-150 territory, and areas that were already in the orange ended up in purple (325+) and black (500+).  Which for us was striking given the fact that construction sites and factories have been idle for the last 7-10 days, and a large portion of the trucks have been taken off the road

Which left us wondering what the source was.  Sure, fireworks had a role later in the night, but with Shanghai starting off the day at 400, things were already pretty bad.

One theory we thought about, which may (or may not) hold water.

Moving 300 million people from factories and offices in urban environments, where power producers are subject to higher standards and enforcement, to homes in China’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th tier cities, where standards and enforcement are more lax, resulted in higher overall emissions than had they remained in the city.

That, while for as energy intensive as construction sites and factories are, 300 million urbanites in the countryside is actually far worse for the environment.  But that is just a theory….

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