Across Continents

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Smog over Shenzhen

January 3rd, 2011

Think we were both taken aback. For slightly different reasons. I’d become very conscious of the thick, heavy diesel fumes on the roads of mainland China. Ending each day with a blackened face. Hideous smuts around my eyes. Phil, my host in Hong Kong, had lived in the former British colony for some years. But he hadn’t previously seen such a stark reminder of the sheer extent of the air pollution. Emanating across the border from mainland China.

Smog - web

We’d climbed the steep slopes of Castle Peak, on the western side of Hong Kong’s New Territories. To the north, beyond the lesser summits, the border with mainland China. And the city of Shenzhen. About fourteen million people. An industrial complex. Covered by a thick grey blanket of smog. Its upper edge clearly defined. Contrasting sharply with the clear blue skies above.

To be fair to the Chinese, they are undergoing a pretty intense industrial revolution. Just as the UK did a few hundred years ago. With scant regard for the environment I’m sure. So, not unreasonable to cut China a bit of slack. Not too much though. I’ve lived and breathed pollution for quite a few months. Tightening chest. Glad of the sweet, fresh air of Australia.

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