Smog – Natural Disaster OR Man-made?
Beijing Government is pondering whether smog is a natural or man-made disaster and have already taken various measures in recent years to tackle air pollution. However, city’s annual average PM2.5 levels, referring to the airborne microscopic particulates considered most dangerous to human health, still stood at 80.6 micrograms/cubic meter last year, eight times the safety limit recommended by the World Health Organization whereas Chinese government accepts an annual average PM2.5 level of 35 micrograms/cubic meter.
While arguing in favor of smog as a natural disaster, legislation committee had decided to include smog on the list of meteorological disasters in order to improve the city’s emergency prevention system and regional cooperation on tackling smog alike Beijing’s neighboring provinces, Tianjin and Hebei. Since the Smog is a combined result of man-made pollution and natural weather conditions, it can be classified as meteorological disaster leading city to access disaster relief resources and better coordinate emergency responses.
Pushing back against the smog-as-natural-disaster argument, Experts says that the root of smog is pollution released by Human, therefore, different than natural disasters. Redefining smog could affect environmental lawsuits by adding an unnecessary level of uncertainty and it could let polluters off the legal hook. Locals are saying that this is a move to exonerate the government of its responsibility to tackle chronic pollution thus, neither emitters nor regulators will end up taking responsibility of this mostly man-made problem.
PM2.5 caused about 51,000 deaths in China from lung cancer in 2005 contributing to direct economic losses totaling 22.5 billion Yuan (HK$26.6 billion) from 2001 to 2014.
Smog forced the cancellation or delay of flights and closure of expressways. Beijing restricted vehicle access to the city.For the first time in 2016, Beijing authorities have issued a five-day “red alert” for air pollution, the highest of a four-tiered, color-graded warning system.