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Air Quality Apps and Bottled Air Thrive On Beijing's Pollution

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the one-man's-trash dept.

China 102

itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.

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Druish princess (4, Funny)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 2 years ago | (#42757269)

She got a nose job tho so you cant really tell.

Re:Druish princess (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42757665)

Tread carefully there. You almost got modded off-topic before I caught the reference. :)

Re:Druish princess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42761011)

Reading the summary would have been too much to ask eh?

Re:Druish princess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42761969)

You are the one who should be careful if you are moderating without thinking about the content that you are moderating.

Re:Druish princess (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42769769)

So... you guys remember every single punch line from every film you've ever seen? Colour me impressed.

(Not.)

Re:Druish princess (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#42757731)

Well, you wouldn't want that schnauz to obstruct a fresh can of Perri-air now wouldn't we?!

The Lorax? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757325)

Has anyone see The Lorax? It sounds like the entrepreneur pulled the idea of selling air from the movie..

Wherever there's a hurricane... (3, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 2 years ago | (#42757375)

there are roofers. Rest assured grasshopper, where there is misery, someone is still reaping a bounty.

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#42757403)

roofers are fine, much of this stuff is like people selling a magic rock that will keep the next hurricane away.

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#42757463)

My magic hurricane rock has been working great ever since I moved to Colorado!

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757467)

But there aren't any hurricanes NOW, so my magic rock MUST be working!

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42757653)

Bosh! Eating lax is the tried-and-true method here in Scandinavia.

I've been eating it on average 3 times a week since I moved here in '07, haven't seen a single hurricane around here yet.

(Seems to work best under the broiler, with some fresh garlic and rosemary.)

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758569)

Maybe it works for you, but it didn't before you got there when Hurricane Maria killed someone in Norway in 2005.

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (0)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#42757697)

That's like how we haven't had another 9/11 since the first one! The TSA must be working! There can't possibly be other reasons!

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#42758531)

What are you talking about? We've had like eleven September 11ths since then! And we'll have another one again this year!

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42759469)

What are YOU talking about? I've had plenty of September 11ths before 2001, I don't even know how many we had since the 'first one'.

Re:Wherever there's a hurricane... (2)

arglebargle_xiv (2212710) | about 2 years ago | (#42757813)

Wherever there's a hurricane there are roofers.

You call that a quote? This is a quote:

Look at all these little things! So busy now! Notice how each one is useful. A lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people, who will be able to feed their children tonight, so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain of life. You see, father, by causing a little destruction, I am in fact encouraging life.

Related projects (3, Informative)

jago25_98 (566531) | about 2 years ago | (#42757397)

One way to measure quality - Sensordone, air quality and other sensors via bluetooth keyring thingy kickstarter project:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/453951341/sensordrone-the-6th-sense-of-your-smartphoneand-be [kickstarter.com]

Related: Air cleaning plants (previously from slashdot)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_air-filtering_plants [wikipedia.org] (testing: http://cur.lv/redirect.php?code=fwrm [cur.lv] )

Re:Related projects (2)

Grave (8234) | about 2 years ago | (#42757439)

And those sensors will largely be made in the same plants in China that are creating this mess, thus feeding back into their own need to exist. Brilliant!

Re:Related projects (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42757575)

The more smog in the sky, the more people will buy.

Re:Related projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42761403)

I don't know about that. I hear O'Hare Air has some connections to Dark Helmet. Something about blockading and raiding the manufacturer of my preferred brand of air.

CAPTCHA: regimes

Re:Related projects (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42766101)

Yeah, they should have had him hack the door to the outside with the code "1234".

Re:Related projects (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#42758253)

What they really need is Martian Sawgrass.
Say -- is it getting cranky in here?

Re:Related projects (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#42757541)

Well, I've got one of these plugged into my Samsung Galaxy Note 2:

http://www.conrad.com/ce/en/product/101316/Voltcraft-CO-20-USB-Air-Quality-Sensor [conrad.com]

I wrote some USB host code to read the stick, and send alarms with MQTT to an IBM Intelligent Operations Center.

Maybe I need to move to China, or something.

Re:Related projects (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about 2 years ago | (#42759547)

That's briliant - since it's cheaper than the link I gave I'd be happy to buy one from you with the Android support

Yanno (5, Interesting)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#42757457)

Here in ermer'ka, we don't have to chew the air because of the EPA. All the deregulation folks trying to close down the EPA should have to spend a month in Beijing, learning what it's like living without one. Just sayin'.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757589)

And if oil companies weren't providing you with power, you wouldn't be able to write self-righteous posts on the internet.

Re:Yanno (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#42757673)

And if I had a pony, I would not let you ride it. So there.

Re:Yanno (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42758173)

But he is an ass, so he doesn't need to ride your pony.

So there...

Re:Yanno (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757685)

If it were not for the oil companies, we'd be getting power elsewhere.

Re:Yanno (4, Informative)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#42757705)

And if oil companies weren't providing you with power, you wouldn't be able to write self-righteous posts on the internet.

Given that petrolium is about 1% of the fuel for generating electricity in the US [wikipedia.org] there is a good chance that oil companies aren't providing him with any power at all.

Of course coal is filthy and provides 44.9% of the power; but oil companies are the whipping-boy, so carry on!

Re:Yanno (1)

rebot777 (765163) | about 2 years ago | (#42758035)

Maybe he's matching that up with the 1% of his household power consumption going to power his computer and wifi.

Re:Yanno (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#42758181)

And natural gas supplies a lot of the rest which, to a first approximation, comes from said 'oil' companies, or their twisted cousins.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42759761)

What about the fuel used to mine uranium/coal? Or the plastics that are used in construction for solar, wind, and hydroelectric power?

Re:Yanno (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#42757819)

And if those oil companies weren't regulated, he also wouldn't be able to write self-righteous posts on the internet because he'd be too busy choking or being dead by now.

Re:Yanno (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#42758093)

Or too stupid to know any better because of the lead in the gasoline.

Re:Yanno (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42761171)

Lead makes you aggressive, not stupid. I thought.

Re:Yanno (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42761155)

I wasn't aware that an oil company ran my local nuclear plant.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42762339)

but the oil needed to bring ALL that infrastructure into place.... oil makes diesel which powers the trucks that brought the cement and plutonium to your nuclear plant... I don't think there's enough oxcarts in the world to bring you the material you'd need in a timely manner...

Re:Yanno (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#42757707)

Except for a lot of the reason why there's a lot of pollution in Beijing isn't because there's no EPA, but rather because of the property structure in China. In most countries, if you want to build X, you can build it wherever you can buy the land to build X. In China that isn't the case, all the land belongs to the government and all non-urban land is reserved for farming.

Because of this, you've got China which has a lot of land and space for people (they're nowhere near the top of the list of population density) where everyone's crammed into cities like sardines if they want to work a non-agricultural job. And since the government owns the land, businesses can't move out of the cities. Because of this you've got a massive amount of smog because all the businesses are concentrated in such a small area.

Re:Yanno (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#42758307)

Maybe, but Japan looks exactly the same and they don't have the same legal structure. I think it is a culture thing.

The lack of regulation issue is real. In the US the average person uses oil or gas to heat their home, and both are reasonably clean from an emissions standpoint (I'm guessing the fuels are regulated). In China most homes use this compressed coal dust stuff for fuel and it is sooty as all get out, likely inefficient, but also dirt cheap.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42762609)

Japan is also an island...

Re:Yanno (4, Informative)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#42758547)

China has plenty of small villages, that's where most of the population lives. That isn't the reason for the smog, it's the power plants. What you're implying is that cities are necessarily dirty and that's just not the case. Plenty of people in New York and the air is perfectly breathable. Shanghai recently spent a lot on setting up filtration for its coal-fire power plants and the air quality improved a fair amount. Still has a long way to go, but that's clearly where the problem is.

Re:Yanno (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42759477)

The power plants are not the reason for the smog. It is the millions of people burning coal in stoves for home heating. Why do you think this problem is occurring IN THE WINTER?

Re:Yanno (1)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 2 years ago | (#42760609)

And people never use more electricity during the winter?

Re:Yanno (1)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#42760947)

People burning coal is ALSO a reason, I did neglect that, but coal for heating can't explain the air quality in Hong Kong, for example, which is subtropical.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42760531)

I spent a year in New York once and found the air quality to be absolutely awful. There was a greasy soot that would accumulate and was invasive. It may be because it was before cars had pollution controls or perhaps industry was not regulated properly but bad air was just part of the horror called New York. If America had an award for an anti natural abomination New York surely would win every year.

Re:Yanno (1)

Politburo (640618) | about 2 years ago | (#42761811)

You're probably talking about sometime in the 60s.. one of these pollution events was referenced in an episode of Mad Men, and they were one of the big drivers for the early Clean Air Acts.

Re:Yanno (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42758747)

Odd. It's pretty much the same in my country, just settling where you wanna simply isn't (you pretty much need a building permit for ... well, I'm not sure about your dog house, but...) but we have one of the cleanest cities. Seriously, when I went to L.A. I was surprised you can breathe that stuff they claim is "air".

Trust me. It's pollution standards.

False Dichotomy is False (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758785)

False Dichotomy is False

That is all. Reboot. Rethink. Retry.

Re:Yanno (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#42757935)

Here in ermer'ka, we don't have to chew the air because of the EPA.

No chewing required. For the most part we just swallow whatever industries put in the air because of what they put in [nytimes.com] politicians' [bloomberg.com] piggy [washingtonpost.com] banks [politico.com] . It goes down easier when you don't have to chew... which is probably why you didn't notice.

Re:Yanno (5, Interesting)

moondawg14 (1058442) | about 2 years ago | (#42758055)

As is very often the case with China, the issue is much more complex than that. China does have emissions regulations, but the selectively enforce them. Most Chinese companies don't have the technology to create compliant products(automobiles and trucks, in this case) Nor do consumers have the money to purchase compliant products. So, rather than spend $$$$ on developing compliant products, companies will spend $$ to get the right person to sign off on their non-compliant product. This has a double-benefit of making Chinese products MUCH cheaper than foreign products (most foreign companies will not make a non-compliant product) and putting more Chinese manufacturing workers to work.

Here in China, we use 80/20 as a rule of thumb: 80% of the products in a given market will be "fake." In my case, we find that about 80% of the competitors in the engine markets are selling non-compliant engines. One example: One of our competitors was selling an aftertreatment "catalyst" at retail for less than our material cost. So, we bought one and cut it open. Iron. No platinum or other catalysts. Well, pretty hard to compete on price when the other guy doesn't have to follow the rules.

After living here for a year, I can tell you that "Money is King" in China. Nearly every single person is constantly on the hunt for where they're going to get their next infusion of cash. Putting enough money in the right hands can get you nearly anything, ANYTHING that you want. Until that cycle is somehow broken, China is going to continue to run headlong into the future with little concern for the long-term well-being of its environment and citizens.

Re:Yanno (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#42758325)

I can believe the whole 80% is fake thing - I don't think it is just China either - likely an Asian cultural thing or something.

I was considering buying a dashboard camera and I can't really bring myself to do it. Most of the products don't even have make/model info - they're just imports and what you get when you open the box could be anything. The reviews reference things like chipsets because that is really the only identifying info - it is a bunch of tiny manufacturers all copying each other's designs and who knows which one makes the best implementation since they don't even put persistent brand names on the stuff. Locally they probably have some other way to assess quality besides brand names and such - maybe the stall on that corner of the market tends to sell the junk that lasts longer.

Re:Yanno (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#42758777)

Well it's not just China, really, though being able to cut the air with a knife in Beijing is kind of an extreme example. I did a "Train-your-replacement" outsourcing gig with a company a decade or so ago and went to Romania a couple times as part of that. Timisoara, Romania reminded me a lot of Miami city without emissions controls. Inside buildings, everyone smoked. EVERYONE. Outside buildings, the car exhaust fumes were about equally as bad. By the end of a week there, my lungs hurt and I couldn't wait to get on the plane for some fresh air. Then they announce it's a smoking flight to London. Argh! We take breathable air and drinkable tap water for granted here in the USA. Try visiting someplace "civilized" that has neither, before whining too loudly about the regulations we have in place to make sure rivers don't catch on fire... again... Or try visiting someplace "not civilized" that not only has neither, and also has malaria mosquitoes! Hey, that could be the new slogan for Beijing -- "At least we don't have malaria mosquitoes!"

Re:Yanno (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42758389)

It's spelled "xmerica".

In no way does the pollution in Beijing excuse the environmental extremists in the EPA. So, there are only two options, with no in between? Only the Sith deal in absolutes.

Re:Yanno (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42758391)

Yes, touchpads and clumsy typing make a good point look ridiculous because Slashdot still lacks an "edit" function.

Re:Yanno (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#42758473)

Yes, well, the preview function more than adequately makes up for it. Editing posted comments is the last thing we need.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42762511)

Where are these environmental extremists in the EPA? You say there is no inbetween, but you label the EPA as extremists. Yeah, only the Sith deal in absolutes... Darth Yanno.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42762637)

Oops, Darth DNS-and-BIND, my apologies.

Re:Yanno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758649)

Here in ermer'ka, we don't have to chew the air because of the EPA. All the deregulation folks trying to close down the EPA should have to spend a month in Beijing, learning what it's like living without one. Just sayin'.

That's right -- they don't have an EPA [wikipedia.org] -- they have a Ministry of Environmental Protection. [wikipedia.org] Obviously having an EPA instead of an MEP makes all the difference. Nothing to do with relative levels of corruption (moderate vs. ludicrous) or with differences in societal ordering (pseudo-democratic oligarchy vs. quasi-democratic plutarchy).

Re:Yanno (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42758755)

we don't have to chew the air because of the EPA

If you dare, look at the air quality trendlines both before and after the EPA's creation. Societies go through stages of economic development.

unregulated capitalism... (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#42761107)

Ironic how China is so heavily centralized and regulated and they are suffering from this problem. It seems like such high levels of regulation would provide them the opportunity to be one of the cleanest countries.

Re:Yanno rather an opportunity ( irony ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42761535)

Pretty soon with the EPA shut down a new opportunity for companies will emerge : Selling clean breathable air.
Think about it . So much money to be made is an occasion that can't be passed by !
The heck with the clean air act, let's make money !

Selling fresh air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757475)

Here's what you do, you bottle the polluted air, and store it, then get alien technology through to post office to solve the pollution problem, then sell it as vintage air.

Re:Selling fresh air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42757765)

Anybody have a 2010 Beijing? 2008 Mexico City?

Ah, the sulfides, you can really taste the aroma!

Mega Maid (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 2 years ago | (#42757623)

Suck. Suck. Suck.. SUCK

Air Quality Apps? (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about 2 years ago | (#42757659)

Is this above Top Quality Apps?

right ... (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about 2 years ago | (#42757709)

'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Umm... so the app was downloaded 30 times total? Talking about bad wording there ....

Idiotic... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42757725)

Obviously, selling bottled air is a 'good idea' if you can get people to buy it; but what possible sense does that make as a strategy for coping with pollution?

As a glance at the scuba gear aisle shows, the equipment needed to actually bottle useful amounts of air isn't trivial. You need a fairly sturdy(and thus heavy) tank to safely achieve pressures high enough to avoid ridiculous volume requirements, and then you need a regulator stage so the pressure doesn't blow your alveoli to hell.

Unless the pollutants are some truly alarming stuff, rather than just soot and miscellaneous VOCs, you'll get a lot more mileage out of lighter and less bulky filters.

Re:Idiotic... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#42757769)

The Chinese are notorious for paying stupid amounts of money on the latest fads of industrial goods. Given they're walking into a new era of consumerism from post communism, this shouldn't surprise you. This phase will pass. Actually, it waxes and wanes throughout any industrialized society. But these past 10 years, the Chinese are most definitely waxing into uncharted levels.

Now, if you have no morals or ethics, an American can makes "shit piles" of money (a large metric) by selling snake oil to China.

Re:Idiotic... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42757877)

Speaking of making money by selling snake oil to China... An, um, friend wants to know if there is a ludicrous backstory that works as well on Chinese customers as the old "Oh, this is a traditional Chinese remedy, rebalances your Qi with the wisdom of the orient" one does on Americans...

Re:Idiotic... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#42758083)

No backstory. At least none that I know of. But what really sells a product is the packaging. In china, it's quite common to find more money spent on developing the packaging than the product itself. I've even read a few comments on car product packaging over at the Chinese version of Newegg (www.newegg.cn). While yes, product packaging is great form of marketing, rarely do I hear or read any comments of it here in the USA. It's strictly for impulse purchasing. But apparently to the Chinese, it's well worth talking about. I haven't a clue if the same phenomenon occurs in Japan, or Korea however.

Re:Idiotic... (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 years ago | (#42758339)

I know that Pharma companies spend a lot more money making their pills look shiny white for sale in Japan. Apparently whether it works isn't nearly as important as the aesthetics of the pills - just about everybody in Japan takes pills and they're quite fussy about how they look. I know somebody at a Pharma company that had to spend a bunch of money on color analysis equipment. In the US the quality test was basically that it looked white and didn't have obvious visual defects (chips, flecks, etc) - they cared far more about the chemical purity and how it dissolved which is far more important from the standpoint of how the pill interacts with the body. For Japan the specs were incredibly tight as to exactly what shade of white the pill was.

Re:Idiotic... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#42758767)

I generally think that the whole "presentation" thing is big in most far east countries. Maybe someone with more experience with far east culture could fill in, but what I learned about gifts and presents in Japan, you should spend some time pondering the packaging, don't just wrap it up in some kind of paper for the sake of wrapping it up.

Re:Idiotic... (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42758129)

That'd be "USDA Approved" (since no one trusts domestic quality control). Check taobao.com with keyword USDA. So now there are tens of thousands of sellers claiming their cosmetics/vitamins/supplements/snacks/etc are USDA approved, but who knows if they're telling the truth...

Re:Idiotic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758409)

Speaking of making money by selling snake oil to China... An, um, friend wants to know if there is a ludicrous backstory that works as well on Chinese customers as the old "Oh, this is a traditional Chinese remedy, rebalances your Qi with the wisdom of the orient" one does on Americans...

"This is a traditional Chinese remedy" actually works really well in China, too. There's a huge market for indigenous snake oil.

Re:Idiotic... (4, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#42757851)

Obviously, selling bottled air is a 'good idea' if you can get people to buy it; but what possible sense does that make as a strategy for coping with pollution?

The canned fresh air is a bit of dark humor. The guy selling it is a wealthy philanthropist making a political statement.

Re:Idiotic... (3, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#42757933)

And with 'flavors' [stuff.co.nz] like "pristine Tibet" and "post-industrial Taiwan", perhaps slightly subversive humor as well.

Re:Idiotic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42759555)

do they have just the regular Peri-air or did Mel Brooks trademark that?

Re:Idiotic... (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#42757957)

The canned fresh air is a bit of dark humor. The guy selling it is a wealthy philanthropist making a political statement.

Exactly. According to the article, it comes in three flavors:

  • Pristine Tibet
  • Post-Industrial Taiwan
  • Revolutionary Yan'an (the Communist Party's early base era)

The Party doesn't like dark humor. I give him about three weeks before he is coincidentally convicted of some sort of crime against the state.

Re:Idiotic... (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#42764325)

The bottled air is a "joke" or "political statement" depending on who you ask. These are literally pop-top aluminum cans. Nothing like scuba gear; or anything actually designed to "cope" with pollution.

selling bottled air? (2)

dudpixel (1429789) | about 2 years ago | (#42757751)

Time to pay a visit to the once-ler...

As someone living in China (2)

Glorat (414139) | about 2 years ago | (#42757825)

My new bookmarked website is http://www.aqicn.info/ [aqicn.info] which recently popped up. It's very pretty and they built a little widget that goes on my android phone home screen. I'm grateful people have taken time to build this type of information as I've been paranoid about the pollution whilst living here. Only 2 years ago, pollution was a topic not even discussed by the locals and the best one had to go on was a twitter feed from the US consulate giving the PM2.5 levels.

And the best thing is that people are building these sites and apps for free.

Re:As someone living in China (1)

ylsul (94641) | about 2 years ago | (#42758041)

Its surprising. I was in Beijing in the summer of 2008, and I thought the pollution was pretty bad then. I was so relieved (breathing-wise) when I left Beijing for Tokyo. You could immediately tell that the quality of the air was better.

The truth comes out (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42757839)

NASA satellite photos show a thick grey haze has rendered the densely populated plains of North China invisible from outer space.

Aha! So that was the plan all along.

Is it me? (1)

stox (131684) | about 2 years ago | (#42758031)

Or do mosty of the images of Beijing, these days, look like they were lifted straight from Blade Runner?

Re:Is it me? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#42759239)

Needs more zeppelins, like everything else.

Original Environmental Action (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758037)

Before 'Green' became a marketing word, the original environmental action in the sixties was to clean up the air, the land and the water in the Western World. The pollution back then was obscene. Black smoke poured out of factories. Lake Erie was the synonym for 'really polluted.

Burning Coal emits Mercury, Thorium and Sulfur. Mercury gets concentrated in the Fish. Sulfur falls out as acid rain.

As to the Thorium, I spotted this in an web article, but could not find much out more about it and was not entirely satisfied that the information was 100 percent good. But here goes anyways. Coal contains Thorium and other radioactive materials that are released into the air when it is burnt. They do not purify coal before the burn it. Coal is a mixture of all sorts of stuff, most of flammable, but some of it other stuff. The scaremonger writing the piece claimed that coal plants spewed more radiactivity into the environment than a nuclear plant. Who knows for sure. I could not google enough up.

They quietly shutdown all the coal plants around here. Almost like Shhh, don't say 'Thorium' or 'Class Action'. Sorta like they got rid of Leaded Gasoline, which according to the talk around the campfire is the reason for the long, slow, steady reduction in crime.

As somewhat of a gearhead, there was always a lot of harangue about 'California' emission controls. I thought they were being overly anal. But looking at the air quality in Bejing is the universe telling me, Ahah! That what happens if you are not anal about everything that affects air quality.

I hear about the Chinese Economic Miracle. But when I see the youtube videos of the 'Fog' in Bejing, the price they paid was too high. You could be the richest man in Bejing, but your quality of life, as a living creature, is horrible. This is not some abstract human rights issue. This is breathing filth into your lungs with every breath.

And replace the coal plants with what? Nuclear? Oy. Brain Hurts.

But still, the Chinese must start down the road to clean air and clean water with a single step. They have the world's worst problem and must become world leaders at solving this problem.

The population is the largest in the world. The civilization is thousands of years old. They have cared for their environment all this time, and in turn, their environment has cared for them.

There are almost tears on my keyboard. It is all so sad. I pray for the people of Beijing. I did not know the problem was so bad, but now I do. I write. I talk. I send about links. That is about all I can do.

China, take those trillions of Worthless Fiat American Paper Dollars and buy your civilization clean air. The people of China are the most important asset of China. There is no election coming up. The planet is not going anywhere. There is no need for short term, quick buck expedient thinking.

Oh. It is just so sad. I pray for Beijing.

It is far older then that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42758621)

The London sewers where a "green" project (Great Stink 1858). The clear air act was a "green" project (1952). The introduction of the motor car was "green" (cars don't shit on the street like horses).

And these things happened because non-regulation made for a terrible mess. Life expectancy shot up after these projects were completed. Foggy London was really Smoggy London and while the air might now not be country side clean, you can see in Beijing just how bad it could have gotten. Hell, according to some sources, it was just as bad in London before legislation changed things.

And we need to keep those laws clearly because despite Beijing knowing perfectly well from examples that air quality is going to go tits up if you keep pumping pollution into the air and despite working examples of how to clean it up, they aren't.

A lot of libertarians should study these things, it goes to show that mankind needs lots of laws because without laws and enforcement of those laws, shit happens.

Re:It is far older then that (1)

Onymous Hero (910664) | about 2 years ago | (#42759313)

A lot of libertarians should study these things, it goes to show that mankind needs lots of laws because without laws and enforcement of those laws, shit happens.

And don't forget a nice well-padded bureaucracy to administer all these laws!

Re:Original Environmental Action (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about 2 years ago | (#42761855)

And replace the coal plants with what? Nuclear? Oy. Brain Hurts.

You do know that nuclear plants don't burn the fuel right? The only thing that goes into the air from a nuclear plant is steam (H2O, water).

Re:Original Environmental Action (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#42765411)

As to the Thorium, I spotted this in an web article, but could not find much out more about it and was not entirely satisfied that the information was 100 percent good. But here goes anyways. Coal contains Thorium and other radioactive materials that are released into the air when it is burnt. They do not purify coal before the burn it. Coal is a mixture of all sorts of stuff, most of flammable, but some of it other stuff. The scaremonger writing the piece claimed that coal plants spewed more radiactivity into the environment than a nuclear plant. Who knows for sure. I could not google enough up.

Factiods I remember:
1. A coal plant releases more radioactive material than a nuclear plant produces
2. There's more potential energy in the radioactive materials in coal than you can get from burning the coal itself

Okay, here goes: Coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste [scientificamerican.com] . Uranium and Thorium content of coal [sciencemag.org] . CO2 production of a coal plant [c2es.org] ,
500MW = 3 million tons of CO2/year. The carbon is 27% [lenntech.com] of that, and coal is 'almost' pure carbon. Call it 1.7M tons of coal consumed per year for a 1GW plant. Of course, this site says 2M tons of coal [opendemocracy.net] . At 1 part per million Uranium and 2 parts per million Thorium, that's ~5-6 tons of radioactive material released per year, 1% of it up the flue(EPA limit). It says that you need about 162 tons of Uranium to fuel a conventional reactor a year.
However, conventional reactors are only about 1% efficient at their fuel burn - if you go to breeder reactors, that could, theoretically at least, drop to 1.62 tons of nuclear material needed per year per GW. Outside of accidents, the nuclear waste isn't released.

Realistically speaking, you could get more electricity out of the coal via nuclear power if you were using breeders. Thorium reactors would be required, but at least they are naturally breeder-type.

So I'd tend to say that my 'coal plants release more radioactive materials than nuclear plants produce' is true - only limited amounts, less than 1%, are actually being converted into more highly radioactive material. It's producing 2 tons of radioactive material*, vs 'release' of 5-6.
Your 'emits more than a nuclear plant' is also very much true.
My last statement - 'more energy in the heavy metal traces' depends on using highly efficient processes and somehow having an energy-cheap way to collect the relatively diffuse uranium and thorium.

*I'm ignoring waste that isn't annual, like the reactor vessel, at the moment, though it's probably only a ton or so more.

I hear about the Chinese Economic Miracle. But when I see the youtube videos of the 'Fog' in Bejing, the price they paid was too high. You could be the richest man in Bejing, but your quality of life, as a living creature, is horrible. This is not some abstract human rights issue. This is breathing filth into your lungs with every breath.

I figure that if you give them another 10 years or so, they're going to start taking their own environmental rules much more seriously, precisely because of this.

commercial break (1)

dhudson0001 (726951) | about 2 years ago | (#42758343)

I almost sat through the 25 second commercial just to watch the the guy selling air cans. That is how interested I was. Was.

Now it's not cool (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42758429)

Hey, I used this app way before it was cool! Now, it's mainstream, and it's just lame now. Sucks! Nah, just kidding. I was surprised and delighted that there was a China air quality app, and installed it straightaway. There is even a handy widget that shows the current conditions. The guy really did a good job on the program.

I just wonder where the data comes from, and how accurate it is. There are perverse incentives for officials to lie about such things. One of my favorite stories is how some clever chap at the US embassy in Beijing stuck and air quality device on the roof and tied it to a web page. Predictably, it was much higher than the official readings, and Chinese people loved it. The government was outraged (telling the truth can be a major crime in China). They tried to get it shut down, saying that it was illegal to report on the environment unless you are a qualified scientist. This very reasonable (by scientific standards) argument was laughed out of court by the Americans, who pointed out that the embassy was sovereign US soil and the mandarins could go suck it. The government obviously couldn't block the US embassy web page with the Great Firewall. Laughs all around.

Be careful posting unflattering China news (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 2 years ago | (#42758443)

They just might hack ./ in retaliation.

Fart App vs Air Quality App (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about 2 years ago | (#42758549)

If you could make a real, working (read: smell generating) fart app then you would have a perfect pair. One app to generate air pollution and one to detect it.

fresh air cans (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 2 years ago | (#42762599)

Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.

Perri-Air. LOL

Welcome to ThneedVille (1)

magikfingerz (906352) | about 2 years ago | (#42766923)

Behold your new O'Hare corporation Lords (Remember the Lorax?)

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