Holy Hell–I arrived back in Shanghai to grey, chunky, stinky air that would choke a moose. I knew that pollution was bad in China but never having experienced it firsthand, I thought, “How bad could it be??” Hey, I’ve been to smoggy LA and lived to tell the tale. Well, the reality is pretty f*&@ing bad because my new fashion look includes wearing a mask just like the millions of others trying to stay alive here. While my mask seems to offer some protection, it doesn’t do much to complete my ensemble so I’m thinking I may have to bedazzle it. When in Rome or something to that effect! Those who haven’t traveled outside China may not know the difference but I know blue skies are possible.
My driver was very introspective and saddened by the devastation that the pollution is having on people and property. He told me that his dream to retire to the countryside and enjoy life was ruined now and that he could no longer run barefoot in the fields because there was so much glass and trash now. The local river is polluted but that isn’t as bad as the air in his mind. He quoted to me something that a business leader in China had said –You can live with bad water because you can import that but you can’t live with bad air. Let’s hope that China takes action so the damage stops soon.
Many people think it is the cars causing the choking crappy air but it is really the smoke from coal used to heat houses/factories. Thus, the air quality is far worse in the winter. Here, we check the AQI (Air Quality Index) before going outside daily–normal in the summer is 150 or so vs. Los Angeles being at 50 as a norm but yesterday Shanghai hit new highs of 450+ here and life was seriously disrupted but one industry profited–air cleaner sales hit new highs, similar to the U.S. hysteria of buying snowblowers during a blizzard.
We love walking outside and getting to know our new home but, for now, I’m thinking that staying inside next to the Blue Air cleaner and watching a movie on HuluPlus will keep me living for just a few more days.