Don’t Call It ‘Smog’ in Beijing, Call It a ‘Meteorological Disaster’

DATE: 15/12/2016

Is smog a natural disaster? Beijing officials appear to think so.

They have listed it on an official website of weather calamities, alongside the spring sandstorms and summer rainstorms that sweep the capital, wedged between mountains bordering the Gobi Desert and the North China Plain.

But with officials poised to legally classify smog as a natural disaster by including it in the Beijing Municipal Meteorological Disaster Prevention Statute, not everyone is happy.

The concept of smog as a meteorological disaster is “controversial,” read the headline of an analysis in The Beijing News on Thursday.

There is precedent in China for ascribing manufactured disasters to nature. The famine precipitated by the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s campaign to collectivize agriculture and quickly expand industry, which killed tens of millions of people, is known in China as the Three Years of Natural Disasters.

Beijing is still reeling from a grimy November, and public anger over smog is running high. Some are concerned that classifying the murky air as a natural disaster will reduce pressure on officials to fix the problem, The Beijing News said.


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