Shanghai Air Pollution

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009


Swatches of color cut directly from photos over my time in Shanghai.

One of my least favorite parts of Shanghai has been the air. The combination of industry, construction, motor vehicles, and you touching yourself at night creates some pretty nasty haze.

The daily pollution reminds me of this little-remembered verse from “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men:

I see ya’ little speed boat head up our coast
She really want to skip town
Get back off me, beast off me
Get back you flea infested monger.

The “coast,” of course, is the East China Sea. The “little speed boat” is symbolic of economic progress. The “beast” is Capitalism and the “monger” is the foreign devil. Interwoven between such simple words is a complex tapestry of geo-political meaning. But when the Baha Men sing “I see you” it’s ironic, because it’s actually hard to see people through the thick pollution here.

My mighty and patient benefactors explain that the air is getting better. As long as one isn’t asthmatic, old, young, or otherwise sensitive to excessive particulate and toxic matter he should be fine.

Clean blue skies are rare, but there is actually a lot color variety in the Shanghai sky. Much like the Eskimos have many words for snow, I offer a few different descriptions for the numerous pollution-based colors I see.

Cough.

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