Air Pollution in China: Analytical Essay

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[image: ]In China, one of the leading concerns is the increase in air pollution and the effect it has on the environment and society as a whole (China Power Team, 2018). Environmentally, there is an abundant amount of carbon overloading in the atmosphere and ocean waters. Atmospheric CO2

Figure 1. Air pollution concentration recorded in parts per million (ppm) in China (Ronson, 2017).

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absorbs and re-emits infrared-wavelength radiation, leading to warmer air, soil and ocean surface waters. This is good, however too much of it can lead to ever-lasting impacts on the environment. Since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have been adding greenhouse gasses, primarily CO2 to the atmosphere at a steadily increasing rate, trapping heat and warming the planet to an unprecedented amount. This has been done through the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation for agriculture and industrial activities that have pushed up atmospheric CO2

concentrations from 280 parts per million (ppm) 200 years ago, to about 400 ppm today (Cleaner air for China, 2019). Beijing being well past the scale, figure 1 exhibits the air pollution concentration of different regions in China measured through parts per million (ppm) in the form of PM2.5, a mix of chemicals composed of primary pollutants, such as black carbon, and secondary pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrate, ammonium and organic aerosols (Ronson, 2017). CO2 currently represents about 84 percent of greenhouse gases emitted by human activities, totaling about 30 billion tons a year, however carbon overloading is only one form of air pollution caused by the burning of coal, oil, gas, and wood (Rohde, Muller, 2015). Not only is this issue of air pollution in China affecting the environment, but society as a whole. Researchers from the University of Hong Kong found two pollutants to cause an average 1.1 million premature deaths a year (Rajper, Ullah, Li, 2018). In fact, the World Health Organization recently estimated that one in nine deaths in 2017 was attributable to diseases caused by carcinogens and other poisons in polluted air in China (Ronson, 2017). In addition, causing the Chinese economy 267 billion yuan a year for destroying 20 million tonnes of rice, wheat, maize, and soybean (Cleaner air for China, 2019). A solution to this growing concern is to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, reforestation, reduce emissions from agriculture and change industrial processes. This issue needs to be addressed immediately because even though the Chinese government says a 100 percent renewable-energy future is feasible with existing technology, “we’re not applying them quickly enough to prevent catastrophic climate disruption,” said lead investigator Steve Yim Hung-lam, an assistant professor in geography and resource management at the University of Hong Kong (Zheng, 2019).

Description of human activities and its impacts

The biophysical environment has an impact on the endurance of living beings within the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. A case of a biophysical factor affecting the environment is acidification brought about by human activity. This is disturbing the hydrosphere as it causes oceans, for this situation the Pacific, to have a lower pH level. Acidification is a danger to sea life since it could cause a huge change in the natural way of life and an alteration of [image: ]the food chain. Acidic compounds are brought about by a chemical response that starts with compounds like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides when discharged into the air from industrialized activities. These substances ascend high into the atmosphere, where they blend and respond with water, oxygen, and different synthetic substances to shape increasingly acidic toxins, acknowledged as acid rain. Figure 2 exhibits how this process is emphasised on the environment (Madaan, 2016). Corrosive downpour is an issue for all beings in the biophysical environment. The leaves on plants are demolished because of acid rain and the science of the soil is also adjusted when acid rain invades into it. This leaves it unacceptable for living things to rely upon the soil for haven and nutrients. Likewise, with the soil being influenced can alter plant development and have a diminished or absolutely declined fertility rate (Withgott, Brennen, 2018, pg. 87). China does not have a similar accentuation on saving and securing the earth for future ages as some first world nations; rather it needs to develop and turn into a prosperous nation through industrialized activities so it could set up an adequate way of life for its monstrous population (Rohde, Muller, 2015). Furthermore, the thinning of the ozone layer due to industrialized processes by humans puts everybody in danger as a result of UVB radiation. The lower part of the stratosphere is compromised of the ozone layer which is around 20 to 30 kilometers above earth (Rajper, Ullah, Li, 2018). The ozone layer is wearing out as a result of contamination being discharged into the atmosphere. This affects the biophysical environment as a whole including its humans, plants, and water life. Due to the diminishing of the ozone layer, the UV beams can cause skin disease and plant development is also influenced contrarily with the manner in which the plant structures. The UV levels also sway the development of phytoplankton which fish typically feed on. This event can cause an alteration in the natural food chain within the hydrosphere in light of the fact that those at the highest point of the chain feed on what is lower (Withgott, Brennen, 2018, pg. 92). Additionally, the gross domestic product (GDP) of China totals to 8.5% on pollution expenditures and the number is continually rising as the study was conducted in 2013. In fact, one of the pollution expenditures totalled to $225 billion as a result of premature deaths (Rajper, Ullah, Li, 2018). Lastly, the nitrogen cycle depicts how nitrogen moves between living things, the atmosphere and soil in the ground. For nitrogen to be utilized by various living things on Earth, it must change into different states. High measures of nitrogen are applicable in certain toxins which later transforms itself into the form of algae; this influences water life and is known as eutrophication. Algae does not allow daylight to arrive on water and once it depletes, it is separated by a decomposer. Since the decomposer requires cellular respiration, it exhausts the oxygen in water, causing animals to either pass away or migrate.

Figure 2. The widely recognized causes of acid rain. (Madaan, 2016)


Innovations/technology and policy arrangements are critical in propelling the battle against the environmental pulverization air contamination has induced on the nation of China. With the decrease of carbon contamination which is brought about by coal burning, the atmosphere could be greatly altered on a positive scale. In contrast to different ventures, mining just uses the land they are uncovering. After a timeframe, the information on various biophysical components that researchers uphold can be utilized to re-establish the land that was wrecked. This methodology is executed in Canada as more citizens are becoming ecologically aware in the approaching danger of a worldwide temperature alteration (Withgott, Brennen, 2018, pg. 203). In addition, keeping away from extreme vehicle use via [image: ]carpooling, utilizing the public transportation system, biking, or appropriating electric autos can diminish the hazard China is placing on the worldwide environmental framework. Figure 3 displays the extreme traffic problem in China (Chan, 2018). There is scarcely any room between vehicles because of over the top measures in traffic. In hopes of reducing pollution and congestion, the government of China has come up with the even and odd rule in which vehicles that have an even last number on their plates can travel one day, while the vehicles that have an odd last number can travel the next (Patel, 2017). In regards to all the concerns China has upon the environment, it is continued to be the world’s largest global emitter if things don’t change in the not so distant future.

Figure 3. The extreme traffic problem in China. (Chan, 2018).

Alternative solutions and recommendations

The causes of air pollution must be decreased all together for a protected environment. China needs to become increasingly familiarized with the significance of conserving and saving what’s left in the world. There is no returning to how the Earth used to be, but the least that should be assured is lessening the causes. The heavy burden of pollution in China is deeply rooted in the country’s emission-intensive industries and coal-dominated energy structure. The World Health Organization concluded that anthropogenic sources of emissions are complex and once emitted can be involved in complex chains of chemical reactions in the atmosphere that make it difficult to control secondary pollutants (Cleaner air for China, 2019). PM2.5, constitutes up to 70% of the concentration in metropolitan areas and although the concentration of PM2.5 is decreasing, the share of secondary compounds is heavily increasing (Cleaner air for China, 2019). In order to make progressive change, the focus of environmental controls should be broadened to other pollutants and their precursors. Furthermore, smaller vehicles, for example cruisers and bikes discharge a greater number of poisons into the air than automobiles; for this reason, there should be a more astute approach in making a progressively efficient vehicle. China also needs to question its policies on whether preventative measures are effective enough to decrease the associated risks of air pollution, along with the response relationships for risk assessment and the health effects of PM2.5 depending on the size and chemical speciation of aerosol particles (Zhu, 2017). The government of China should focus its efforts on the recommendations provided by the National Science Review Committee which prompted the fruitful control of acidic downpour in the 1980s and 1990s (Zhu, 2017). The committee shall serve the country as a safe haven to combat environmental and social change as it has in the past. Although there is a lot that China needs to focus on to control air pollution, they have however made a good effort to reduce their own emissions and to inform efforts to control pollution in other countries.


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