Chinese air is getting better, according to state representatives. However, the news isn’t unanimously good, according to those same reports. While the air pollution levels are lowering on coastal cities, it was found that the non-coastal cities were getting more polluted in terms of air quality. This is a problem that only gives the appearance that things are improving. The comparison shows that in the coastal cities the 2014 figures for the first quarter revealed a pollution level of 102.9 micrograms. Comparatively, that figure dropped to just 92.4 micrograms this year.
The good news though seems to stop there. It was revealed that the pollution cloud that sat over these cities previously, which totaled more than 300 cities, just moved further west. This western move caused the other cities, or the non-coastal cities to see significant increases in the air pollution that was said to be seeing a reduction. These are the kinds of misleading statistics that misshape our climate discussion.
Zhang Kai, of the Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia said, Our analysis shows that the government’s strict pollution control measures are working, at least enough to record a modest improvement over last year in certain cities such as Beijing. However, this is the only silver lining in a situation in which 90% of cities still record levels of pollution that far exceed China’s own air quality standards.” That’s a problem that really can’t be coated over by minor successes, or little victories. The larger problem isn’t just still persistent, but still getting worse.
He went on to point out that, “Armed with this information, the government must now ensure that pollution is not simply relocated to other regions and that the same strict measures enacted in cities like Beijing are actually enforced across the country.” It’s important to not just initiate change, but also see the change through, especially when it comes to Earth. We don’t have any room for error, and at this point every little bit does count. Especially on a scale that is anything but small.