Here is a photo contrasting a blue-sky day and a smoggy day in Beijing. The two photos are not photoshopped except that they were stitched together after being cropped to present a contrast. For most days of the year, however, Beijing looks more like the right half than the left. But Beijing authorities have another version of the story. Translated by CDT from BTV, or Beijing Television Station:
So far, Beijing has recorded 199 blue-sky days. Although the report doesn’t spell out exactly what criteria will be measured to announce a day blue or not, it does say that October has gotten 13 grade A or B days as of Oct. 14. But to the naked eeye, many of the what they call B-days are very smoggy by Western standards.
In front of the camera, people hailed the many blue days they have seen in Beijing, compared with years ago. A major reason being the city has almost phased out burning coal; instead it relies a lot more on natural gas or diesel for heating.
According to the TV report, the number of blue days in a year has gone up remarkably, from 100 in 1998 to 185 in 2001, 203 days in 2002 and 241 in 2006. This year, the government expects to score up 67% blue-sky days all year.
Some more numbers from the propaganda: Beijing has invested 97 billion yuan in protecting its environment in the five years between 2001 and 2006. Results: A 7.9% drop in sulfur dioxide from 190,600 tons in 2005 down to 175,500 tons in 2006; a 5.2% drop in chemical oxygen demand (COD) in those years, while last year the national emissions of sulfur dioxide and COD have gone up 2.4% and 1.9% respectively. [Full Text in Chinese, more photos from Xinhua and moobol]
Stay tuned for a special, multimedia project from Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations on Beijing’s air quality.