Would you like the Philippines to be as smog-ridden as China? I definitely hope not and it may be improbable, but there still is a possibility that the air in the Philippines may become as polluted as that of China, if nothing is done to avert it this early. Just recently, China ordered local weather stations to stop issuing smog alerts, raising suspicions the government is attempting to suppress information about the country’s air pollution as public anger over the issue grows.
The reports were met with stinging criticism from online commentators who have long doubted the credibility of China’s official data on air pollution.
The notice set off a series of emergency measures, ranging from taking cars off the road to closing heavily polluting factories. Authorities there have long hesitated to issue the notices, over fears that they will harm economic performance, even when pollution levels are literally off the charts.
In late 2015, China issued its first ever red alert in response to public anger over the government’s reluctance to take action, after a wave of suffocating smog hit the country’s northeast. Bad air is a source of enduring public anger in China, which has seen fast economic growth in recent decades, but at the cost of widespread environmental problems.
In recent weeks, parents in particular have expressed outrage over the heavy air pollution that regularly affect hundreds of millions of people and which has led to high levels of lung cancer, demanding that schools be equipped with air purifiers.
Beijing and other cities across northern and central China were shrouded in thick smog earlier this month, prompting authorities to delay dozens of flights and close highways.
A few days later, 25 cities in China issued “red alerts” for smog, which triggered orders to close factories, schools and construction sites.
In central China, authorities even ordered students from kindergarten through high school to stay home because of the smog. More than 300 flights out of the northern city of Tianjin were canceled almost daily due to poor visibility.
China has long faced some of the worst air pollution in the world, blamed on its reliance on coal for energy and factory production, as well as a surplus of older, less efficient cars on its roads.
Although many people took to social media to express their anger about the thick smog that choked Beijing for over a week around the New Year, they found that their articles were quickly deleted, a move that only increased their frustration.
Because of heavy air pollution, China is canceling plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, seeking to rein in investment in the sector, while moving the country away from one of the dirtiest forms of electricity generation.
Electricity generated from coal is the biggest source of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming, and pollution from such plants contributes to the heavy air pollution that has blanketed large parts of China.
Still, China’s state-owned power companies remain politically powerful. Grid operators often favor power generated from coal plants over that made by wind and solar, and despite the cuts, China is still building far more capacity than it needs.
Pollution is one aspect of the broader topic of environmental issues in China. Various forms of pollution have increased as China has industrialized, but which has caused widespread environmental and health problems.
According to their Ministry of Health, industrial pollution has made lung cancer China’s leading cause of death. Every year, ambient air pollution alone killed hundreds of thousands of citizens there.
The heavy air pollution in China has spread internationally with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide falling as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan; and according to the Journal of Geophysical Research, the pollution even reaches as far as Los Angeles in the USA.
A draft of a 2007 World Bank report stated that up to 760,000 people died prematurely each year in China because of air and water pollution. High levels of air pollution in China’s cities caused to 350,000-400,000 premature deaths. Another 300,000 died because of indoor air of poor quality. Chinese officials asked that some of these results not be published in order to avoid social unrest.
While the Philippines has not reached that high level of air pollution yet, it still is possible that it could become like that, if nothing is done by the national and local governments about it.
By this time, the use of coal-powered electrical generating facilities here should already be lessened, if not totally banned, and moves must already be made to shift to other forms of electricity generation like the use of solar farms.
At the same time, moves must also be made to further develop and improve existing technology in solar-powered electrical generation, to make it less expensive and more accessible to the public.
I would not like the Philippines to have as much heavy air pollution as that of China, and I’m very sure, none of you would like that either.