In the first article, Louisa Lim describes a shocking reality of living in Beijing. Everyday, she checks an app on her phone that's linked to the air pollution monitor at the U.S. Embassy to find out what the Air Quality Index is, and it's not uncommon for it to be at a level considered dangerous to human health. Experts have estimated that consistent exposure to the pollution in Beijing could take up to 6 years off of someone's life.
"Whenever the levels hit "very unhealthy," we keep the kids indoors and refuse to let them take part in outdoor activities, no matter how much whining might ensue. When to wear a pollution mask, when to stay indoors, it's all become crucial knowledge, even for our 4-year-old." - Louisa Lim
(Beijing on a smoggy day vs. a clear day)
In 2009, Chinese officials claimed that the Air Quality Index readings were causing undesirable "social consequences" and "confusion" among the public, and went as far as to ask the Embassy to limit the access to the data to only American citizens. Fortunately, that didn't end up happening, but the existence of these levels has placed a lot of pressure on the government to take some kind of environmental action.
"Today in China clean air, clean water, safe foods, kind hearts and the truth have all become luxury items"- tweet from a Chinese twitter user
After giving some thought to the amount of time her children spend indoors, Louisa Lim decided to have an expert do an indoor Air Quality Index reading. She had been expecting the results to be bad, but they were even worse than she imagined. Inside her living room, the air quality was five times higher than the level considered safe by the U.S. EPA. After doing this story, Louisa was so concerned about her family's health that she spent approximately $3000 on air purifiers, a cost that is out of reach for most Chinese citizens.
The second article is a feature on wealthy Chinese citizens spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on homes in Sanya on Hainan, a tropical island in the South China Sea. The biggest reason that people are suddenly moving here is because it has some of the cleanest air in China.
The fact is, clean air has already become a luxury good in China. But will other countries heed the warnings and change environmental policies before it's too late?
C) Bullet Answers
1) Global/National/Local Impact: Pollution around the globe could become a major issue if it continues to get worse. Citizens may start to leave China, looking to move to other countries for a healthier life. If other countries let their pollution levels get as bad as China's, people from all over might start moving in search of clean air, potentially leaving some countries as polluted wastelands. Now is the time for governments to take environmental issues seriously and take action. On a personal level, I'll be making sure that I pay attention to candidates' stances on environmental issues when voting in the upcoming election.
2) Impact Over Time: Within the next 2 months to 2 years, hopefully people will become more aware and educate themselves about environmental issues and vote for government officials who are serious about making changes that will have positive impacts on pollution/global warming/etc.
In 20 years, I definitely think that the environment will be a much greater topic in the government, and there will probably be some countries, especially in Asia, that need to evacuate due to extremely dangerous pollution levels.
3) Positive Outcomes: Changing views on the importance of doing everything that we can when it comes to reducing pollution, along with getting air purifiers to low income citizens of China and other areas of heavy pollution.
4) Negative Outcomes: Shortened lifespans, countries becoming polluted wastelands, and overpopulation in countries that have clean air
5) Region of the Futue: Bio Tech/Human Tech
Are you concerned about changes of our air quality in the U.S. over the next 10 years?
Would you leave the U.S. if air quality became a concern?
Do you think that expensive air purifiers will become a necessary purchase for homeowners in future generations?