Beijing declares 274 days of 'blue sky' in 2011
Growing concerns that air pollution in China is being under-reported
Chinese citizens are growing increasingly skeptical over their nation's
reporting of air pollution. China is home to 21 of the world's 100 most
polluted cities. Beijing environmental authorities insist that the
capital had already reached its annual "blue sky days" target for 2011,
and say that the air quality this year was better than the Olympic year
Increasing public pressure in Beijing has led to announcements last month that officials are revising air quality evaluation standards.
"Beijing has seen an overall decline in the concentration of various pollutants in 2011," Zhuang Zhidong, deputy director of Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said.
While conceding that the capital also experienced "several days of poor air quality as a result of bad weather conditions," the bureau blamed such factors such as weaker winds and a rise in humidity for failing to disperse atmospheric pollutants.
"Is today April Fool's Day?" asked one Weibo-user, on one of China's unofficial blogs. "I suggest that Beijing's environmental authorities wear sunglasses with a blue lens, so that every day is a blue sky day!"
"The BJEPB has lost credibility with the Chinese people," the Beijing-based environmental consultant Steven Q. Andrews tells IPS over email. "Ozone and fine particulate are monitored by the government but not publicly reported. Significant concerns have also been raised regarding the accuracy of BJEPB monitoring.
"For example, previously the BJEPB shut down monitoring stations set up to measure roadway pollution and claimed that air quality had improved as a result even though the concentrations of various pollutants would have increased if the monitoring locations had remained consistent.
"By not reporting fine particulate the government is able to claim that air quality has improved in the capital, even when the severity of air pollution and the health impacts have been increasing," he adds.
Beijing's population was in uproar over large discrepancies between the BJEPB's official air quality readings and the U.S. embassy's monitor readings last month.
According to a report by Andrews published on the environmental Web site China Dialogue, officials in Beijing over the last two years have announced that there has been good, or excellent, air quality in the capital almost 80 percent of the time. By contrast, the U.S. embassy measured that over 80 percent of days have had unhealthy levels of pollution.
Increasing public pressure has led to announcements last month that officials are revising air quality evaluation standards.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: China, air pollution, reporting, blue sky days
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