“The Sun Also Rises” is the title of one of author Ernest Hemingway’s most famous (and one of my favorite) books. And like the title suggests, most of us wake up in the morning expecting to see the sun rise.
In most places around the world, the sun does just that every every day. There are places, of course, north of the Arctic Circle or south of Antarctica, during periods of the year, when sunrise is brief, faint or nearly non-existent; however for most of the inhabited world, like the title of the Hemingway novel, the sun rises each morning.
But, what if you woke up one morning, in your town or city, expecting the sun to rise and it wasn’t there?
Recently in Beijing, China, this ominous thought has been a reality due to a veil of pollution from carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Instead of citizens of Beijing seeing the sun rise in the sky, sunrises have been projected virtually on LED screens like the one pictured here, in Tiananmen Square, the large city square in the center of Beijing. And projected on those screens were also the words, “Protecting atmospheric environment is everyone’s responsibility.”
James Nye of the UK’s DailyMail recently reported this story. “It is no surprise that serious air pollution plagues most major Chinese cities, where environmental protection has been long sacrificed for the sake of economic development. And coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution,” he wrote. Yet, at the same time, he reported on all that China is doing to reduce its emissions. “…China is aware of this and doing more to increase its regulations and financial commitment to fight pollution.”
It was reported that even in winter when the city’s air quality is poor due to increase in coal burning and other pollution and worsened by stagnant weather patterns of winter pollution, the readings were well above 500 ppm. In recent weeks, the level and density of pollution reached as high as 671 parts per million (ppm) at a monitoring post at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on January 24, 2014. That was well above the level that the World Health Organization reports as safe and was the highest reading since January 2013. To put some perspective on how high that is, the International Panel for Climate Change recommends a safe limit of only 350 ppm.
There are two important lessons from this story. First,