I Was Wrong – But Not That Wrong

Here on the Global Gal/Going Native blog, I will readily admit I have made a mistake or error in some posting. I’m certainly human. Today I must correct some information that I had posted quite a while ago because I do not want to mislead anyone! I may not be an official journalist with a press pass, but I do aim to be honest and fair.

Shijiazhuang, I feel I’ve sullied your image, and I want to apologize. When I said that Shijiazhuang, China – my beloved former home – was the second most polluted city in China, I was WRONG. But I was not that wrong! Today, while reading Foreign Policy Magazine’s blog, I discovered that the city of Linfen is the most polluted city in China, and one of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world. The list is horrendous. How can we do this to our planet?

It turns out that Shijiazhuang is the seventh most polluted city in China. (See this China Daily report.) That still concerns me, and if you are in the shiz or headed there anytime soon, it should concern you too! Now my next question is: Why would anyone build a flight school in the seventh most polluted city in China when there are thousands if not millions of cities in China???? For those of you interested in the doings at Panam Aviation Academy, after 2 years of everyone at the school continually complaining about the pollution and poor visibility, the Chinese management finally relocated a big part of the school to Inner Monglia, where the skies are fairly clear. That is all I am going to say about Panam because I really have nothing good to say about the school at all and I do not want to waste any of my precious time or brain energy thinking or writing about it.

I have read in several places on the net and heard from long term expats in the Shiz that over the last few years the air quality has improved, so I may not have been wrong before to say that Shijiazhuang was the second most polluted city. It may have been a few years ago. If the air quality truly is improving, they probably only need another 50 years or so until there are blue skies everyday! (Too bad that will be too late for Beijing 2008, when the Shiz airport is set to be an alternative landing spot!)

Where does all the pollution in Linfen and the Shiz come from? Mostly from coal-burning power plants. Particles from coal burning are really big. My parents live about a mile from a coal power plant in Texas. Thank god they use environmental protections there, but I still think we should lessen our dependence on these kinds of power producers. Linfen and Shijiazhuang are both located within the heart of the coal burning industrial center of China.

So where did top 10 most polluted list come from? A US based environmental charity, the Blacksmith Institute. Their comments on Linfen and pollution in China:

“When asked to comment on the environmental conditions of Linfen, one environmental expert quipped, If you have a grudge against someone, let this guy become a permanent citizen of Linfen! Why? For punishment!” Shanxi Province is considered to be the heart of China’s enormous and expanding coal industry, providing about two thirds of the nation’s energy. Within it, Linfen has been identified as one of Shanxi’s most polluted cities with residents claiming that they literally choke on coal dust in the evenings, according to a BBC report.

China’s urgent need for coal has led to the development of hundreds of often illegal and unregulated coal mines, steel factories and tar refineries which have diverted water and  parched the land making farming in the province nearly impossible. Water is so tightly rationed that even the provincial capital receives water for only a few hours each day.”

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