The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts reports:
Since the US embassy in Beijing began tweeting hourly pollution reports last year, I – along with many other smog watchers – have been horrified at the frequency of “bad” and “hazardous” readings.
But this week, the depth and murkiness of the haze was so appalling that the automated system briefly entered the realm of black comedy with a “crazy bad” analysis of our air.
The outlandish description appeared on the @beijingair Twitter account late yesterday when levels of PM2.5 tiny particulate matter surged past 500, about 20 times higher than the guideline issued by the World Health Organisation.
The “crazy bad” terminology – which was at odds with the normally sober and scientific language of the Twitter account – appeared to have been a joke embedded in the embassy’s monitoring program and triggered by a reading that was off the normal scale.
US officials quickly deleted “crazy bad” and replaced it with the term “beyond index”, but not before the original message was widely retweeted by shocked Beijingers.