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Fear the Airpocalypse
Beijing Makes It Harder to Trigger Smog “Red Alert”

Beijing issued its first-ever “red alert” over toxic air pollution back in December, warning its citizens to stay inside if possible, wear masks if venturing out into the smog, and ordering half of the city’s cars off the road. The Chinese capital followed that warning up with a second red alert less than two weeks later, and rounded out the month by cautioning children and the elderly against going outside. Now, the Chinese government is tightening the standards for issuing these red alerts, making them at least potentially a little bit fewer and farther between. Reuters reports:

In future, the highest alert will only be issued when the daily average air quality index (AQI) is forecast to exceed 500 for a day, 300 for two days in a row or 200 for four days, Xinhua reported, citing Beijing’s environmental protection bureau.

At present, a red alert is issued when the AQI is forecast to exceed 200, a level the United States deems “very unhealthy”, for at least three days.

These red alerts have a large effect on the local economy, closing schools (and forcing parents to figure out a childcare solution on the fly), making it difficult for people to commute, and postponing construction projects. The decision to make the qualifications for these shut downs a little bit more stringent shows China is still struggling to find the balance between pursuing urban development and managing the rampant pollution incurred by its rapid recent growth.

The country’s recent economic stumbles will make any growth-constricting actions taken in the name of clearing smoggy skies that much more painful. But this isn’t just an economic issue, it’s a political one as well. The Chinese public has become increasingly vocal in its criticism of the government for pollution problems in recent years. But while smog may be fomenting dissent, it’s going to be a bit harder for it to trigger a red alert in Beijing in the future.

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  • Tom

    So, Is Dhako going to show up and talk about how terrible the United States is?

    • Fred

      More than likely. I’m surprised Anthony the Troll Whisperer hasn’t commended his “interesting perspective” and warned him about the “cognitive bias” around here.

      • Tom

        That’s because Dhako is too over the top, even for Anthony.

      • Anthony

        Here are common “Cognitive Distortions” (utilize what’s applicable): 1) mind reading; 2) fortune telling; 3) catastrophizing; 4) labeling; 5) discounting positives; 6) negative filtering; 7) overgeneralizing; 8) dichotomous thinking; 9) blaming; 10) what if; 11) emotional reasoning; 12) inability to disconfirm.

        P.S. reply intended to discourage cognitive obsession with my “name” though six years and counting reveals futility of attempt to discourage (

        • Fred

          I don’t deny that bias exists, but:

          1. Everyone has biases, believe it or not even you. Should we dismiss what you say because of your biases? As I’ve pointed out before, you act like you and you alone can somehow transcend all bias and see the absolute, objective truth about things as they are in themselves. You’ll forgive me if I doubt that’s the case.

          2. Bias is not necessarily irrational. It can result from experience, facts, and arguments as well as from the “cognitive distortions” you list above. And even when it does result from those distortions, it can change in light of experience, facts, and arguments.

          3. Bias may explain why someone uses a particular argument or takes a particular position, but it has zero bearing on the truth or validity of the argument or position. To dismiss an argument solely on the basis of what you take to be the arguer’s biases is a classic ad hominem fallacy. To date, I’ve yet to see you use reason and evidence to address the truth or validity of an argument you disagree with, as opposed to dismissing it on the ad hominem basis of what you take to be bias. When you do employ reason and evidence rather than fallacy, I promise I will take you seriously.

          • Anthony

            2 suggestions: see reply of Oct. 23, 2014 and read Orthodoxy chapter 5 several more times.

          • Fred

            I have neither the time nor the inclination to look up a comment you made two years ago. As for Orthodoxy, if you are referring to the book by GK Chesterton, I quite fail to see the relevance to my argument above. If you are referring to another book by that title, please be specific.

          • Anthony

            It’s been six years of “virtual harassment” (has to be some kind of internet record). In that time, Dan Greene, Greg Forster, and others have offered advise of which you’ve ignored. Here’s mine Fred: reread Orthodoxy Chapter 5 and recognize Oct. 23, 2014 as a marker – we have “nothing” to exchange via internet (I have not read a sentence you’ve written).

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