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Friday, October 25, 2013

Blanket Of Smog In Chinese City Renews Coal Debate

The cloud of smog that smothered Harbin, China, as seen from space. (NOAA)

The cloud of smog that smothered Harbin, China, as seen from space. (NOAA)

Cool winds are bringing relief to nearly 10 million residents of the northern Chinese city of Harbin, where thick smog caused schools, airports and businesses to shutter their doors earlier this week. Residents were ordered to remain indoors. At the pollution’s worst, visibility was only 65 feet.

The smog coincided with the first day residents fired up their heating systems in a city known for its cold temperatures and ice festivals.

The city’s dependence on coal has created ongoing problems: in 2010 Harbin spent over $1 million to retrofit some residential buildings with new windows, roofing and insulation. But those measures were inadequate to hold the pollution at bay.

China is responsible for half the world’s consumption of coal.

Scientist Russell Dickerson joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to discuss the issue.

Guest

  • Russell Dickerson, professor in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Maryland.

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