China’s air pollution is changing urban life, and not for the better. It’s an urbanite killer, an economy ruiner, an exodus bringer, a fashion changer, and now a culinary transformer. Starting Thursday, a standby of Beijing urban living is going the way of the city’s blue skies, falling victim to toxic smog. Authorities in China’s capital will begin cracking down on street vendors grilling and selling kebabs, in part because these smoky grills cloud the city’s skies. But, as Reuters reports, this may be one pollution response too far:
The head of Beijing’s Foreign Affairs Office drew scorn from microbloggers last October when he claimed that stir frying made a significant contribution to air pollution. Similar skepticism emerged from Chinese microbloggers on Wednesday.“The whole environment has been destroyed, and industrial pollution and overuse of cars are the primary reasons,” one user wrote. “What is the point of preventing Beijingers from eating cucumber salad outside?”
China’s air pollution is even breaking up marriages, according to a separate Reuters report. One Beijing man is looking to divorce his wife of six years after she took their four-year-old son to a remote resort island after the boy developed health problems as a result of the seemingly ever-present smog. As the beleaguered man put it, “[s]mog ‘buried’ my son’s health, and it has ‘buried’ my marriage.”The bill for China’s unchecked growth in recent years is coming due in a very big way, and it is being felt across all facets of urban living. Is Beijing’s leadership up to this pollution challenge? It figures to be one of the country’s greatest in the coming years.