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After COVID-19, China is Ready for Another Apocalypse

Nitrogen dioxide level in China
Image Source: European Space Agency

After China starts to open it’s cities again amidst COVID-19 lockdown, the country’s air pollution apocalypse starts to return.

According to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, 9 out of 10 cities in China have such a robust developed economy that they fail the country’s pollution tests. But what does that actually look like? Apparently, China’s pollution has almost reached apocalyptic levels.

Smoke emission from large factories
Image Source: Environmental Defense Fund | For the presentation purposes only.

According to the World Bank, 20 of the world’s most polluted cities are in China. It is also because China is the world’s largest polluter. It produces one-fourth of the world’s carbon dioxide (Co2) emissions. China burns as almost as many coals as the rest of the world combined. During November 2010 “air apocalypse” in Beijing, the pollution was literally off the charts.

Air pollution in China's northern industrial city of Baoding
Image Source: Agence France-Presse

In addition, on the scale of 0 to 500, Air Quality in Beijing tops at 755. That’s according to a report from the New York Times in 2013. It exceeded the US Embassy’s highest pollution rating. As a result, it accidentally triggered what some programmer had written in as “Crazy Bad”. Furthermore, Chinese scientists say that air pollution in some places has been so bad, it was like a nuclear winter which affects plants’ ability to grow.

Beijing and Shanghai both failed the air quality standards assessment. This was based on measurements of major pollutants.

Smog and haze in one of China's polluted cities.
Image Source: Forbes

China is home to an estimated 459 “cancer villages”. This is according to Chinese media, academics, and NGOs. Moreover, according to the Chinese government, by 2030 China will have used up all of its water.

In the 1950s there were 50,000 significant rivers in the country. And now less than half of them are left. In a report from Independent in 2007, one-third of all the native fish species in the Yellow River or Huang, are extinct. Likewise, this has been announced by the Chinese officials. Yellow River is the second largest lake in China, after the Yangtze. Consequently, most of China’s lakes and reservoirs are polluted. Even more, they are coming beyond safe for human consumption.

A polluted lake in China
Image Source: Business Insider

Algae blooms can lead to dead zones patches of water, where literally nothing can survive.

Algae blooms
Image Source: Business Insider

Across China, 90% of groundwater is severely-contaminated. In Shanghai, authorities say that only 3% of water is safe for drinking. And over half of 2,500 lakes and rivers near the city are deemed so polluted. As such, it can’t be used at anything. Not for industrial use, and not even in a fountain.

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