Forse Nibiru esiste davvero: c'è un altro pianeta nel sistema solare
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Airpocalypse: inquinamento apocalittico in Cina
L'eccessiva concentrazione di PM 2.5 nell'aria ha portato a 257mila morti premature nel 2013 nelle 31 grandi città prese in esame dal sondaggio, e in sei di queste, più di 114 persone su centomila sono morte prematuramente a causa dell'inquinamento atmosferico.
Il tasso di mortalità medio dovuto allo smog nelle città monitorate è stato dello 0,09%, a un livello più alto del tasso di mortalità per il fumo, allo 0,07% nel 2012, ma il bilancio avrebbe potuto essere ancora più negativo, spiegano gli autori, se tutte le città più inquinate fossero state considerate nello studio.
Meglio della media, invece, si è classificata Pechino. Nella capitale, che secondo una recente classifica non è più tra le dieci città più inquinate della Cina, le morti premature dovute allo smog sono 79 su centomila.
La "guerra all'inquinamento" dichiarata dal governo cinese lo scorso anno non sta ancora producendo i risultati sperati, nonostante le forti sanzioni per chi non rispetta i nuovi canoni e la riduzione del carbone nel paniere energetico nazionale, certificata dagli ultimi dati ufficiali.
In base a un ultimo rilevamento compiuto dal Ministero della Protezione Ambientale cinese, quasi il 90% delle grandi città cinesi non ha rispettato gli standard per l'inquinamento nel 2014, con solo otto città' su 74 monitorate che sono riuscite a non superare le soglie fissate dal governo.
Pechino non è tra le più inquinate, ma è circondata da sette delle ultime dieci città della classifica, i centri dello Hebei che ospitano le più grandi acciaierie del Paese e altre categorie industriali ad alto rilascio di emissioni inquinanti.
Nell'area Pechino-Tianjin-Hebei, la concertazione media di polveri sottili nell'atmosfera è stata di 93 microgrammi per metro cubo, molto al di sopra dello standard fissato dal governo, a 35 microgrammi per metro cubo, un livello che il governo si prefissa di raggiungere a livello nazionale entro il 2030, data entro la quale è' previsto il raggiungimento del picco delle emissioni prima della discesa. (AGI)
China’s notorious smog can feel like a physical manifestation of the country’s political repression: suffocating, censored and potentially lethal.
On many days, the sun is hidden behind a pale, brown veil of coal dust and other pollutants that is visible from space and smells like a chemical spill on fire. The United States Embassy’s air quality readings — widely viewed as more accurate than China’s official data — are censored on local smartphones. Air pollution has been linked to a spike in cancer rates in Beijing, a city made almost “uninhabitable for human beings” by smog, according to a study published last year by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
The American Embassy’s air quality index, or A.Q.I., uses standards set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to measure pollutants on a scale that starts at zero, or “good,” and tops out at 500. Anything higher, as was recorded in Beijing in mid-January, is officially referred to as “beyond index.”
Expats call these bouts of horrifying pollution an “airpocalypse.” Not only does the term convey the epic dystopian reality of China’s smog, it offers a welcome bit of gallows humor amid an otherwise hopelessly depressing situation.
During his five years living in Shanghai, Tom Suharto, an American who works in advertising, grew frustrated that Chinese A.Q.I. mobile apps failed to reflect the emotional side effects of smog.
“I noticed that the language used to describe the air in apps was nothing like the language people actually used to describe the air with each other,” he wrote in an email from Portland, Ore., where he now lives.
To remedy that situation, he built Airpocalypse, a sleek, color-coded app for 16 Chinese cities that provides weather conditions, shows A.Q.I. measurements from official American and Chinese sources and, perhaps most important, “shares your excitement” on clear days and “feels your pain” on smoggy ones, according to its website. “I wanted to make a more human and culturally in-tune experience that empathized with the user,” Mr. Suharto said.
While foreign diplomats and China’s state-controlled media must handle the issue of air pollution delicately, for fear of angering the Chinese government, Airpocalypse takes a more honest approach.
“The air in China sucks,” the website declares. “We hate it too.”
The app speaks to Mr. Suharto’s anger over how the country’s air pollution limited his daily activities and made him feel like a bad parent. “I hated that I felt guilty raising a child in China,” he said.
The goal of the app, available on Apple devices, is to help users “survive and thrive in heavily polluted China.” It appears to be succeeding. Since its start in May 2014, Airpocalypse has been downloaded more than 3,500 times and is nearing 900 daily users — quite a feat for a passion project with no advertising.
Word of mouth has spread about the app’s darkly comic captions, which change with the air quality. “Rad,” it might say during clear skies, or “drink it up.”
As the pollution gets worse, Airpocalypse gets snarkier: “it could be so much worse,” or “meh,” are some of the descriptions that replace the Environmental Protection Agency’s “moderate” measurements.
Rather than use the official “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” descriptions, the app commiserates like an understanding friend would. “Kinda gross,” it reads, or “yuck.”
The app, Mr. Suharto explained, “was a way to get some revenge and let out my frustration” about China’s poor air quality. To create the captions, he did some polling of his friends for their thoughts, “but basically I just tried to tap into how the air made me feel.”
Residents in China have turned to face masks and air purifiers to protect their lungs, but there is little they can do to soothe the fury and disgust that arises over having to wear an asbestos-removal respirator mask just to walk the dog. Airpocalypse shares their suffering.
During “hazardous” bouts of pollution, the app asks the seemingly perennial question, “seriously China?”
And when China’s air goes “beyond index,” as happened — again — in Beijing recently, the app offers either practical information — “mask no longer optional” — or a wistful fantasy born of utter despair: “Break glass, escape China.”
In addition to the snarky captions, Airpocalypse features an array of humorous advice to prepare users for the elements as well as to help them safeguard their health and psychological well-being. Tapping on the ski mask icon reveals “warmth trumps fashion.” When the air is clear, a smiley face declares “masks are out of style.” If the pollution is heavy, a Nintendo Gameboy icon suggests “distract yourself from smog.” During the most harmful periods, icons depict a gas mask or a futuristic astronaut helmet that bears the exhortation “steal one from Daft Punk,” referring to the French electronic music duo known for their signature sci-fi-esque headgear.
Airpocalypse is a whimsical addition to a slew of new products like wearable air pollution sensors and air purifiers designed to tackle China’s smog crisis. “Technology will definitely have a lot to say in the fight against air pollution,” Mr. Suharto said.
But unlike so many tools that focus on treating physiological issues, his app also tries to heal the soul.