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Now you see it, now you don’t – the Beijing skyline disappearing act

Identical views of the Beijing skyline with and without smog.

Identical views of the Beijing skyline with and without smog.

We hear all the time about how bad pollution in China has gotten, but now we can really see it. Bill Bishop took photos of the same view in Beijing, looking out towards the giant China World Trade Center III on both a clear and a smoggy day. Shockingly, on a smoggy day the thick China pollution completely masks the behemoth building.

In this telling comparison of the Beijing skyline, it is evident that air pollution in China needs to be addressed. A common measurement of air pollution is the amount of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) in a cubic meter of air. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency considers PM2.5 levels above 300 extremely unhealthy, all outdoor activity should be avoided. Beijing’s PM2.5 air pollution spends days at up to 500, and after weeks of a constant haze even Chinese state media are calling for action.

Read the full story at the Washington Post and get the inside scoop on China in Bill Bishop’s newsletter, Sinocism.

Keep an eye on your air.

  Photo credit: Bill Bishop

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  • jjrs

    Any word on the exact PM2.5 level in the second picture?

    It would be interesting to see multiple pics of the same area with the varying levels of PM2.5 listed underneath