Last week, the capital for China-Beijing was covered by fog
Photo from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/01/chinese-vacuum-cleaner-artist-turning-beijings-smog-into-bricks
UK is the first industrialized country in the world, and London is among the first cities which encounter the haze problem in the world. In the 1950s, the world-shaking “London smog incident” makes London a world-renowned “City of Fog”. Now, London almost gets rid of the title of “The City of Fog”, and we can learn from much of its experience.
In the 19th century, as the source of the industrial revolution and the industrial center, London entered into a rapid industrial development stage. Huge consumption of fossil fuels, especially the increasing consumption of coals, intensified the atmospheric consumption of London. Factories produced large quantities of waste gases which formed into the thick grayish yellow frog. The air pollution situation of London became increasingly severe. For over 100 years from early 19th century to middle 20th century, London had many air pollution cases in winter, among which, the most early record can be traced back to 1813. Later, in 1873, 1880, 1882, 1891, 1892 and 1952, air pollution also occurred for many times, among which, the most typical is the serious air pollution happened in December 1952.
From December 4 to December 9 in 1952, London was enveloped by wide-ranged and highly-concentrated haze. As historical data recorded, over the four days from December 5 to December 8, the death toll of London reached 4,000, among which, the death rate of people aged 48 and above is three times as much as that of the ordinary times, and the death rate of people aged 1 and below is twice as much as that of the ordinary times. Moreover, the morbidity of respiratory system diseases such as pneumonia, lung cancer and influenza also increased remarkably. In the following two months, this incident caused a death toll of 12,000 in total. This is the world-shaking “London smog incident”. Air pollution not only harms human health, but also corrodes the buildings severely. It also causes soil depletion and water degradation, makes birds to migrate to other places, and influences the growth of plants.
The direct reason for London smog incident is the sulfur dioxide and dust pollution caused by burning coals. Large quantities of thick smoke emitted by coal burning factories, waste gases caused by engine oils emitted by cars, and polluted clouds blown from continental Europe all contribute to the worsening air quality of London. At that time, London had a huge industrial waste emission. Every day, 1,000 tons of thick smoke came out of chimneys, which contained 2,000 tons of CO2, 140 tons of hydrochloric acid, and 14 tons of fluoride. More seriously, the coal burning dust contained iron sesquioxide, which can catalyze another coal burning pollutant sulfur dioxide and produce sulfur trioxide. Then sulfur trioxide would react with water absorbed on the surface of the dust to produce sulfuric acid fog drops. After mixing with water vapor, 800 tons of sulfuric acid was thus produced. Family coal burning also exacerbated the air pollution. Before the era of central heating, in the cold winter of London, thousands of households can only keep warm through burning coals. Due to postwar economic depression, the government exported high-quality coals abroad, while the Londoners used fault coals, which intensified the pollution. When air was not circulated, the seriously polluted yellow smoke was “stuck over London”, thus forming the thick fog. Breathed into the respiratory system, these sulfuric acid fog drops would cause strong stimulation, thus causing the weak to have diseases or even die. The indirect reason for the London smog incident is the accumulation of air pollutants caused by thermal inversion layer which started from December 4.
Later in 1956, 1957 and 1962, as many as 12 serious smog incidents happened in London continuously. In the mid 1970s, the number of “fog days” in London gradually decreased, which further decreased in 1980. Currently, with London’s toxic smog disappearing from scene, London has become an ecological city of the world.
Most of the people I interviewed just said: China is poor, because they have had environment, and why they not fix that problem right now?
Actually, they can fix fog but they don’t want to. The most important part of there economy is realty, China has more than 1.4 billion people right now that means more than 1billion real estate will be sold in China, so more forest becomes housing, so no plants can help cleanse the air, and also more Chinese businesses like to use chemicals to make energy, because that is the fastest way to make money, but that destroys the environment. If they close the factories, where will the money come from? I think they won’t fix fog until most of Chinese people’s are dead from respiratory disease and lung disease.
Photo from http://www.weibo.com/justicelv