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Chinese PM admits sandstorms are sign of 'ecological destruction'

Beijingers unfurled their face-scarves and wiped the coating of yellow dust off their homes yesterday after days of sandstorms which deposited on to the capital 300,000 tons of sand from the Gobi desert and dust from the thousands of building sites around the city.

By the time the sandstorms whipped Beijing, they had picked up a large dose of heavy metals and carcinogens which, over the past week, caused a suffocating layer of foul air to hang over China's capital.

The head of China's environment watchdog warned yesterday that worsening water and air pollution could soon become a political issue and translate into social tension, riot and protests. [...] His views were echoed by Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister. "The succession of dust storms is a warning to us. Ecological destruction and environmental pollution are creating massive economic losses and gravely threatening people's lives and health," he said earlier this week.

The premier said China had no problem meeting economic goals but was faltering on environmental targets. China's sulphur dioxide emissions last year were 27 per cent higher than in 2000, despite the goal set by the government to reduce emissions by 10 per cent over that time.

The World Bank says 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China and so far this year the capital has recorded just 56 days with blue skies - 16 fewer than for the same time last year. Environmental damage has sparked widespread anger and many citizens have taken to the streets to protest.

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4 Responses:

  1. bokane says:

    No kidding, man -- I live in Beijing, and it's taking years off of my life.

    The latest sandstorm was particularly strange: usually sandstorms are, you know, storms, with wind and battering and the like. The latest one just happened: I was pulling an all-nighter that night, and didn't notice any wind whatsoever. The next morning, when I went out, there was an eighth of an inch of very fine brown dust over everything.

    In this case, if the wind had kept blowing, Beijing would've been fine - or at least, fine beyond the standard air pollution, water pollution, ruined water table, etc. What happened, though, was that the wind just stopped when it hit Beijing, so it was like a massive celestial dump truck hauling 330,000 tons of foul loess silt upended onto the city.

    No wonder so many people here smoke. At least that way you're breathing through a filter.

    • heliocide says:

      I'm starting a year at Beijing University through study abroad in the fall. This sounds like it's going to be pretty challenging. Can you reccomend any ways of dealing with the pollution / environmental disaster besides walking around in a bubble?

  2. styroteqe says:

    People are still illegally importing decrepit computer equipment from the West and burning it in South China. Smashing CRTs for the copper elements. It all sits atop happy pools of tech-oil.

  3. babynutcase says:

    Forbidden tetraethyl lead continue to import in Russia
    ..."The Russian government banned the production of tetraethyl lead on the territory of the country. At the same time firms continue to buy it from China and Rumania and bring to Russia. ...

    This shit is like the worst.