Flying back between Berkeley, CA and Beijing, China on graduate school projects, an idea struck me to record air quality with a picture every day, initially out of a friend’s apartment window. Then that project grew and took roots at Asia Society and now China Air Daily tracks five cities in China and the U.S. on an hourly basis.
Here below are two videos about China’s notorious air pollution issue I produced with Emmy Award winning studio MediaStorm:
Here below is the homepage of the site, a visual record of daily air quality in China and the U.S., featuring Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, New York City and Phoenix:
I write in The Atlantic: A Stunning Visualization of China’s Air Pollution
The debate over whose statistics are most “accurate” can be confusing — how to sort out truth from spin? That’s why a group of us at the Asia Society decided to launch China Air Daily, a website that provides up-to-date information on air pollution in the country’s largest urban sectors, and even compares them to major cities from elsewhere in the world.
I write in Foreign Policy: Watch China’s Silent Assassin in Action
For the past eight years in Beijing, as well as four years spent in other Chinese cities, I have recorded impressions of daily air quality by taking photographs from fixed points. I thought I had seen the worst smog a developing country had to offer — then came the so-called “Airpocalypse” of January 2014. Finally, in March 2014, the Chinese government declared an all-out “war against pollution.” For a few months, as my photo archive suggests, Beijing’s air quality appeared to improve. But this winter, it is getting bad once again:January 15 saw an AQI measurement near 500.
Air quality improved after the Olympics, and there have been good days since, but why August was this bad is something of a mystery. Trying to get to the bottom of the air-quality-in-China issue is the work of China Air Daily, a web site produced by the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. The site is produced by the journalist-programmer Michael Zhao. China Air Daily publishes near-hourly snapshots several times a day. You can see how blue it was for most of March 2011.
One of its useful devices is the China Air Daily site, which allows Web users to track the sometimes awful state of smog in three Chinese metropolises, as well as two in the U.S.
Last but not least, I blog about the issue on ChinaFile.com and here are some slides from the blogging: