Beijing Is On Red Alert, Chops Car (Access) In Half

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
beijing is on red alert chops car access in half

The nice people at Marketplace, who provided the above photo, have a fun website where you can put Chinese smog on your favorite city. Thankfully, most American cities haven’t had a smog problem in the 21st century. Beijing, on the other hand, is experiencing the proverbial terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

For the first time in its history, Beijing is on “red alert” for smog. The city has proven tactics that can address the issue; in order to have blue skies for a military parade earlier this year, an “Even-Odd” policy was adopted to restrict cars entering the city to odd or even days based on their registration. “Hundreds” of factories were also shut down for up to two weeks. The result: the desired “blue sky” — which disappeared more or less the moment the restrictions were eased.

Part of the problem has to be China’s standards for diesel fuel. They implemented Europe’s 2005 standards for sulfur content in diesel fuel in 2014. Come 2017, they’ll need to be at 10 ppm, which is where Europe and America largely were by 2007. Combine this with Beijing’s infamous permanent traffic jams, and it’s no wonder that there’s a problem. Even Paris has had to deal with the effect of diesel passenger vehicles in the city. The millions of two-stroke engines, most of them in scooters, probably don’t make things any better.

If you’re in the mood for some unintentional hilarity, you can prowl through various articles on Gawker, Salon, et al and be lectured by the commenters on how things were just this bad or worse in the United States back in 1923 or whenever and how we shouldn’t expect the Chinese to have modern air quality or modern environmental regulations and how they should only be held to the standards of the Industrial Revolution. Most of these same people would blow their aortas out of their chests if you suggested that Foxconn assembled the iPhone in any conditions other than absolute clean-room perfection with a million people singing in squeaky-clean harmony. Oh well. If you want China apologia in these pages, use your Chinese-made computer to invent time travel, return to 2012, and your every wish will be fulfilled.

It’s worth noting that China’s cavalier willingness to poison its population in the name of unfettered profit is part of the reason why General Motors has used American taxpayer dollars to complete its pivot to that part of the world. It’s also part of the reason that GM can easily produce the upcoming Buick Envision in China; doing it in America would just be too much hassle. Building new factories in the United States? Don’t be silly. We have entire arms of the government devoted to making that impossible. We also have clean air. Which is nice, because you need clean air to survive. Most of us, however, also need a job to survive. Figure out how to balance those demands, and you’d be a better Presidential candidate than any of the lineup before us today.

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  • Jacob Jacob on Dec 09, 2015

    This is what happens when you convert your country into the world's biggest manufactured good factory.

    • See 1 previous
    • Turf3 Turf3 on Dec 09, 2015

      @turf3 Sorry, edit: "If China were not able to... currency manipulation, lack of US protective tariffs and US political support for elimination of US manufacturing..." Without this edit, it's not clear how the US ruling class would affect what China does. But they are the ones who make it possible, by making it easy to import cheap overseas goods without any consideration of how US workers are going to be able to buy them when all the wealth-creating activity has left the USA.

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Dec 10, 2015

    It's easy to criticize but having actually been to China, including Beijing when it was a sweltering 102 degrees and smoggy I would actually argue that the average Chinese person is FAR more eco-conscious and pollutes a lot less than your average American-especially since they can see with their own eyes just how horrible things can get (whereas in the US you'll have idiots decatting their cars to get 10HP and rolling coal). But there's so many more people and factories there and with the poor airflow around Beijing you get this kind of air quality. It's clearly a problem but I don't get why people think talking smack about Beijing actually solves anything. You think the Chinese government is going to clean things up more quickly because TTAC made a post about how polluted it is? The reason they're cleaning it up is because they all have to live there and they have to deal with the ire of the Chinese public-all the leaders of China have to spend their time in Beijing so they're the ones breathing this crap in along with the other 20 million people who live there. The fact that they'll be adopting US 2007 level pollution standards by 2017 is actually fantastic progress. Improvements don't happen overnight and it's not like 2007 was some stone age era where the US was polluted beyond belief or something. And as an aside? Beijing isn't the only damned city in China, and even with current pollution controls many cities actually have very livable air. Coastal areas with good airflow have lots of cities that have blue skies all year round. Look at the southeast coast and you'll see tons of cities like Wenzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou that already have very good air quality, and adopting circa 2007 US pollution controls would actually lead to excellent air quality much like most of the US in 2007. Either way, I'm sure China will clean their act up, they pretty much have to unless all their leaders want to breathe smog for the rest of their lives. It's actually rather lucky that Beijing also happens to be the capital city so none of the leaders can really avoid seeing the problem on a daily basis.

  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
  • MaintenanceCosts I saw my first IS500 out in the wild today (a dark-grey-on-black example) and it struck me that it was much more AMG-like than this product. (Great-looking and -sounding car.)
  • ToolGuy
  • Art Vandelay Props for trying something different. EVs should work well in this sort of race. The similar series running ICE run short distances like that