Kenya Foy
January 04, 2017 9:29 am
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

So, there’s casual smog and then there’s the scary movie, post-apocalyptic kind of smog, like the smog cloud covering Beijing that was captured in this time-lapse video. In the brief clip, a camera view from a skyscraper shows traffic moving along steadily on the freeway below, the sun shining brightly overhead. But within a matter of 20 minutes, a thick, polluted haze engulfs the city, making it the perfect setting for snapping a smog selfie, which is sadly something that the residents of New Delhi, India have taken to doing after its government declared an “emergency situation” in the nation’s capital due to the overwhelming smog.

If you’re at all familiar with Beijing, then you know that the city’s smog issue is also pretty severe and this video captured by Twitter user Chase Pope gives us a glimpse of what local residents are facing.

According to The New York Times, the smog in Beijing prompted officials to declare a red alert for the city on December 16 that resulted in hundreds of canceled flights, schools closing, freeway shutdowns and a ban on the use of high-emissions vehicles.

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Recently, the country’s Ministry of Environmental Protection released a statement placing 24 Chinese cities on red alert, but addressing the problem has been met with its fair share of complications.

For example, NPR‘s Anthony Kuhn’s report on the air pollution in China found that “state media have also reported that some local environmental authorities are tampering with air quality monitors to make pollution look lighter than it actually is.”

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While air pollution (especially of this magnitude) is obviously frightening for Chinese residents, it should be equally alarming for everyone else because it’s a global issue that impacts the entire planet.

In September, the World Health Organization revealed that 92 percent of the world’s population breathes air that falls below the WHO standards and also cited China as having the “highest number of deaths attributable to air quality” in 2012.

Those are sobering statistics, but we’re hopeful that Chinese government officials will develop a plan to reduce the pollution and allow their citizens to lead safer, healthier lives.

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