Winter is Coming in Beijing

I am getting old, turning 40 years old in the upcoming year. People know that a man at this age will face to health problem sooner or later, and it especially doesn’t help maintaining certain bad habits such as smoking or drinking.

In order to combat the inevitability of old age, half a year ago, I decided to start running every night after dinner. Every evening, I head to a stadium about 50m away from my apartment and run slowly for 30 minutes. Since beginning this habit, I have felt my body getting more and more active.

However, recently I’ve had to stop taking part in such exercise from time to time due to serious pollution in the city.

View of the pollution in Beijing

View from the CPG offices in Beijing on a day when the AQI is 240

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing left a message on its Weibo account (The Chinese version of Twitter) one day in September, that the pollution in the city was far beyond standards, so much so that it couldn’t even be measured. Such a message receives great attention and led to a debate between local government authorities and normal citizens living in the city. The reason for this local agitation is that on this same day the Beijing government’s report at showed only “slight pollution”. Later-on, some experts explained that the difference was generated due to different testing methods used by the two departments.

Air purifying office plants

New plants in the CPG office to try and help keep the air clean

Since this time, our American colleagues in our Beijing office have decided to close the office windows unless the AQI is less than 100 (AQI is the pollution index issued by U.S. Embassy). In addition our office has purchased many plants that apparently work to purify and clean air in the office.

I don’t know the details of standard and testing methods, I only know that I had to cancel my plan for running in the last several days. I also similarly could not open my window throughout the whole week.

Winter is coming, heating season is coming. Thousands of coal burning boilers will start to resume operations, and I can only assume that this means an even higher increase in air pollution.

The criticism is often voiced that this is a negative consequence of economic development that has been operating at a high speed over the last 30 years. If this is the case, it is unfortunate that there has to be such a trade off between progress and healthy standard of life.

If you have any thoughts or experiences in the matter, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Mike Zhang- CPG Business Intelligence Manager

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