In China’s Polluted Cities, the Smog May Be Here to Stay

World

As my colleague Emily Rauhala wrote earlier today, the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, close to the border with Russia, is suffering through some truly horrible air pollution. And given that this is mainland China — home to some of the most polluted cities in the world — that’s saying something:

State media said the PM 2.5 reading [which measures the level of harmful particulate matter in the air] ‘exceeded’ 500. A Reuters report put the figure at 1,000, or 40 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe. Photographs from the city show air so murky it would be easy to mistake Monday morning for deep, dark night.

The intensification of the smog has to do with weather — as temperatures dip in more northern cities like Harbin, the coal plants that provide most of China’s energy and heat kick into overdrive. (It doesn’t help…

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