Sunday, March 26, 2017

China's Smog Woes Compounded by New Wind Patterns Caused by Climate Change

Smog in Beijing. Click for photo credit.
The New York Times published an interesting article by Javier Hernández on China's continuing smog woes. I am sure all of the readers of On the Brink have heard about the debilitating smogs in Beijing that occur when pollution gets trapped in the city. China's top down managers even temporarily closed major industries and power plants during the Olympics several years ago to try to put a pleasant, non-polluted face on the sporting event. Of course the smog returned when the industry and coal burning power plants were allowed to resume normal operations.

Over the last several years, China moved aggressively to reduce pollution and the use of coal burning power plants. Pollution output decreased and the government has been praised for its strong actions.

But it appears as if it wasn't enough. The smog continues.

But why?

It seems as if wind patterns have changed. Not only have they changed, but in places like Beijing, the wind speed has decreased. Pollution is not gone with the wind. While reductions in pollution have occurred, the lack of a cleansing wind makes it seem as if nothing has changed.

Of course a decrease in wind speed in one spot does not indicate that winds are decreasing globally. In contrast, according to this article, it is expected that jet stream wind speeds will increase significantly--along with aircraft turbulence.

The Times article is a good reminder that temperature is not the only variable that is changing as a result of global climate change.

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