With the airpocalypse gripping Beijing and spreading eastward (even Japan is worried about its effects), I’m reminded about how bad the air pollution was when I lived in Shenzhen. After seeing photos posted on Twitter, I knew that even those awful days I experienced didn’t come close to the horrors of this past week.

View of Central Hong Kong from Kowloon on rather bad day

View of Central Hong Kong from Kowloon on rather bad day

In the last year I lived in China, I had a HEPA air filter and multiple snake plants (I’ve been told they are natural air purifiers). I witnessed days so bad that my throat burned and eyes watered. On the worst day, the Hong Kong news noted that people should avoid outdoor activities. In contrast, the local Shenzhen news claimed it was a great day to be outside. Fortunately, the Chinese media does not state such stupidity when referring to the air pollution today. I was even told by my students that it wasn’t smog, it was fog.

I hope that new pollution regulations are enforced not just in Beijing, but throughout China. It is a beautiful country, and I would hate to see it waste away into a brown cloud.