I always like to follow the news on places I’ve visited before. It just so happens that China has been in the news big time recently and not in a good way. Apparently Beijing has been impacted by some of the most dangerous levels of pollution in history and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The pollution is at such hazardous levels that the Communist Governement has declared emergency measures to try to decrease the horrendous black soot in the air that is unhealthy for people to inhale. The air quality is so incredibly bad that people are advised not to venture outdoors.

Per today’s New York Times article titled Smog Blankets China’s Capital, “In the past three decades, China has adopted a growth-at-any-cost attitude to build its economy, and the resulting environmental damage is now widespread and severe”.

I was in Beijing a little over a year ago and had been shocked by the thick layer of pollution and smog blanketing and strangling the city like a murderer. Every single picture I shot while in Beijing was a huge disappointment given the pesky pollution that wouldn’t budge. It was slightly better in Shanghai yet still worrisome.

As more Chinese move up the ranks into the middle class and buy more cars, there is bound to be more problems with pollution and the damage to the environment will be unbearable. It points again to the need for all governments to come together and agree on how they should address climate change and the impact that over 7 billion people are making on this earth. Of course, Americans with their big, gas-guzzling cars need to help out too. We all do.  But I hope something is done before it is too late.

I’m leaving you with a few photos I took while in Beijing last year and processed them with a new filter app called PhotoForge which I love. I’ve also been experimenting more with Instagram as well. If you are interested in checking me out there, I am under Thirdeyemom.




  1. They are so reliant also in cheap coal that it’s not something they can easily stop burning. I saw so much of this in the various towns I visited across China a few years ago. It’s such a complex country. No solution is simple is it? These pictures are amazing.

    1. Thanks. Yes, it is scary isn’t it. Especially because the population is so large and it is booming. We’ll have to see what happens, hopefully for the better.

  2. Hi Nicole,
    It is terrible in Shanghai also. Worse I have seen in the 3 years I have been here. Long term teachers also say this is the worst they remember. In 3 weeks we have had more inside recess than out… the pollution was so thick a few days you would swear it was night. It was an eerie dull grey all day. It has improved this week with factories shutting down for Chinese New Year. I posted about it 2 weeks ago and you can see that here:
    I hope you don’t mind I added my link 🙂

      1. Hi Nicole, I got back to Canada last night and I could breath easy! Weird feeling that is hard to explain, but air was fresher for sure! I am. Sure it wasn’t just the cold either.

      2. Yes the fresh air is light and weightless 😉 Home for 12 days total. Can’t beleive a week has almost passed! Going back alone since hubby needs to stay on here for awhile. I think that is what makes it harder to think about going back and the time to go so fast.

  3. Nicole,
    I do the same thing and watch the news in places we have visited. I think China is about 50 years behind the U.S. When I was growing up in Ohio, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. We had problems with acid rain and if you see the photos of many of our major cities, (I particularly remember Nashville where you couldn’t even see the skyline as you came into the city) the smog was so thick that we finally got the EPA established and the Clean Water Act in the early 70’s. The Chinese will reach a point when they realize that environmental laws will be needed, and that may come soon. The day we arrived in Beijing it rained all day while we were at the Forbidden City. But the silver lining was that it washed the pollution out of the sky and the next several days were very nice and clear before the smog returned.

    1. Let’s hope. What concerns me though is that the population of China is so much larger than ours was and is. What will happen when more people get cars? I do remember when I was there that our Chinese guide said they strictly monitor the number of cars that can be on the road each day by license plates. I just wonder what will happen in a country of 1 billion as it continues to modernize. Let’s hope laws are in place. I can’t imagine having to breathe that air in.!

      1. Yes, but there is a large migration into the cities and the use of cars becomes limited by their road capacity. As in most heavy urban areas mass is the best way to get around. And they are way ahead of us in high speed rail so you can get from city to city.

  4. It’s very unfortunate to see not just the larger cities, but every city in China covered in a thick blanket. We’re in Ya’an with a population of 1.5 million and the air is pretty nasty. One day of rain and a little wind more than doubled our line of sight. We haven’t seen any in the past week so it’s difficult to see more than two blocks. Coal is a a contributor, but also are the lax requirements on gas/diesel engines. Hope to see some changes in emission regulations which will give our lungs a needed break.

    And I just bought a good camera…


    1. Thanks Nate for the update. Yes it is so worrisome. I especially would hate to have to breathe that air into my lungs and body on a daily basis. I hope the government does something about it but then again, how do you stop modernization without a cost? Scary situation. Keep me posted on any changes to the law as I’d be interested in knowing. I’m kind of an environmental nut. 🙂

  5. I saw this too, it reminded me of images I’ve seen of London in the 19th century when thick smog covered the city due to coal burning, perhaps that is what’s happening in China? I may moan about pollution levels here in Indonesia, but we have nothing like the smog the Chinese people are facing. I hope it doesn’t take them the decades it took in England to sort it out.

  6. The worst city I experienced when we were there in July 2012 was Xi’an. Unbelievable those poor people don’t even know what the sun looks like. I can’t imagine what the pollution is doing to the health of 1 billion + people every day. We were in Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu and Guilin, and Guilin was the only city we actually saw the sky. Sad.

    1. Yes I agree. I could never live somewhere like that with so much pollution. It is so bad for your health! We are fortunate to have clear skies!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.