The Hangzhou Hobbit: The Desolation by Smog

December 9, 2013

Hangzhou’s Pollution Level on December 7, 2013

Sadly it is not a newly-discovered tale by Tolkien. I wish it was, but it’s not. What it is: Hangzhou has recently been overwhelmed with air pollution.

In all the years I’ve been here I’ve never seen such a vast all-encompassing cloud of death smothering the life out of a city as I have been privy to this week. I’ve always heard the horror stories about Beijing and its death-clouds, but I’d never experienced it first-hand.

Walking outside is like being on Saturn: just an atmosphere of noxious gasses and a line of sight no loner than your nose. Even the colors of the sky are tainted by the toxic emmisions floating around in the air.

An eerie evening

From what I’ve read online, this isn’t just attacking Hangzhou. It’s also hit other cities, and from what I’ve seen it’s hit Shanghai incredibly worse than it’s hit us. And that’s saying something, because Hangzhou seems like the Doctor Who episode where the alien Sontarans try to kill humanity with toxic gasses to create a cloning planet.

Hangzhou’s Smog

I fear that if the Doctor doesn’t show up in China soon, it may be too late.

So if you must go out into the wasteland of Hangzhou or elsewhere, take a few steps to keep safe:

1) Buy yourself a breathing mask. The Chinese use these religiously even on days when I think the air is fine. Pick one up and save your lungs.

2) Cover up as much as you can. Wear glasses, goggles, a hat, gloves, a scarf etc. It’s winter so you have an excuse to do that anyway.

3) Brush your teeth and wash your face/hands when you get home if you are out for a prolonged period of time. I blew my nose last night after riding my e-bike home for only 15 minutes and it was full of dirt.



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