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Sickening Images Of China Plagued By "Extremely Hazardous" Record Smog As Winter Heating Season Arrives

"Today’s haze is pretty severe and choking - when I walked out the door I thought someone’s house was on fire," exclaimed one resident as AFP reports a huge swathe of China is engulfed by acrid smog Monday after levels of dangerous particulates reached around 56 times World Health Organization maximums, in what environmental campaigners said were the highest figures ever recorded in the country.

 

Spot the 'Winter' difference...

 

As The Guardian details,

Residents of north-eastern China donned gas masks and locked themselves indoors on Sunday after their homes were enveloped by some of the worst levels of smog on record.

 

Levels of PM2.5, a tiny airborne particulate linked to cancer and heart disease, soared in Liaoning province as northern China began burning coal to heat homes at the start of the winter.

 

 

“The air stings and makes my eyes and throat feel sore when I’m outdoors,” one woman, who had ventured out to buy a face mask, was quoted as saying. “As for what exactly we should do, I don’t know,” she added.

 

 

The Associated Press said Sunday’s smog represented one of the worst episodes of air pollution recorded in China since authorities began releasing air quality data in 2013.

 

 

There was indignation on social media as China confronted its latest “airpocalypse”.

 

 

“The government knows how severe the smog problem is, so why haven’t they tackled it?” one critic wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

 

 

“What’s the point of having an environmental protection department? The precondition for developing the economy is not damaging the environment. Our leaders are all well educated. Can’t they understand this simple truth?”

 

 

Others reacted with resignation. “Other than reporting it, what can the government do?”

 

 

Shenyang, a major industrial centre since the days of Mao Zedong, has been attempting to clean up its act in recent years by relocating factories and starting to use natural gas instead of coal to heat homes.

 

 

But on Monday doctors in Shenyang were dealing with the consequences of the latest bout of toxic pollution to hit their city.

 

Yang Shenjia, who works at the Liaoning Jinqiu Hospital, said there had been a sudden influx of patients suffering from breathing complaints over the past two days. “The respiratory department’s inpatient wards are full,” the doctor told Xinhua.

 

*  *  *

Finally, and perhaps the most ironic of all, is the juxtaposition of the images above of a coal-smoke-plagued China with 'official' data that coal usage is collapsing amid China's "successful" reforms of the Coal industry in line with the newly signed Climate Change agreements with President Obama...

Coal consumption is poised for its biggest decline in history, driven by China’s battle against pollution, economic reforms and its efforts to promote renewable energy.

 

Global use of the most polluting fuel fell 2.3 percent to 4.6 percent in the first nine months of 2015 from the same period last year, according to a report released Monday by the environmental group Greenpeace. That’s a decline of as much as 180 million tons of standard coal, 40 million tons more than Japan used in the same period.

 

The report confirms that worldwide efforts to fight global warming are having a significant impact on the coal industry, the biggest source of carbon emissions.

Call us old-fashioned but color us skeptical that any of that is true given the record levels of coal pollution that is choking reality out of Chinese lives.