Today's Chinese Air-Emergency Info Source

There's no longer any surprise in noting that China has grave environmental problems. For the record, I am sticking with my claim that the simultaneous degradation of air quality, water quality, water supply, food safety, soil quality, and other environment-related variables is the main challenge to China's continued development. And of course the global effects of China's rise to wealth -- through atmospheric emissions, pressure on natural resources, acceleration of deforestation and over-fishing, market demand for ivory and other body parts of endangered species -- are urgent issue to be resolved with the rest of the world. 

The news to me for the day is a site that pulls together relevant pollution readings for cities all across China. Here, for instance, is the almost unbelievably hellish current reading shown for the city of Tangshan, which is in Hebei province near Beijing and has been best known as the site of a disastrous earthquake in 1976:


How I am judging hellishness: Two days ago in Beijing, the AQI readings were in the 350ish "hazardous" zone. That was considered very bad when we were living in Beijing in 2009 and 2011. It's also the level at which I usually can feel the pollution, in the form of a chronic headache and a layer-of-something in my throat and lungs. Earlier this year, during the  "Airpocalypse" in northern China, the readings in Beijing and other cities were previously unimagined 700s or above. At face value this Tangshan chart shows something over 1000. 

My main purpose for now is to highlight the AQICN site; if you go here, for the Beijing readings, you'll see links to other provinces and cities, and an explanation of what is being measured. Thanks to @pdxuser and Mark MacKinnon for pointing it out.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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