The concentrated supply of heating, the relatively heavy humidity in the air and unfavorable conditions for air circulation have combined to worsen the smog that has suffocated a vast swathe of China's northern and northeastern regions over the past week.
Data released by the Beijing Environment Monitoring Center on Sunday morning indicate that the PM2.5 density in Beijing's urban area reached 245 micrograms per cubic meter, while the PM2.5 density in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, was a shocking 1,400 micrograms per cubic meter a few days ago.
Even though the serious air pollution Beijing, Tianjin and some cities in Hebei province are suffering from has become a regular occurrence on the arrival of winter and is now expected by residents, the continuous and widespread smog over such a large part of the country for so many days has fueled public grievances and provoked serious concerns about its effect on people's health.
In Beijing, emergency plans are in place to deal with air pollution with corresponding countermeasures supposed to be launched in response to different severities of smog. But the general impression is the authorities always fail to take measures appropriate to the severity of the situation. And local governments in other regions are even more lax in trying to curb air pollution. Because of this, the announcements of strict-sounding measures by some local governments at times of severe air pollution are commonly regarded as empty gestures intended merely for show.
Local governments should put people's health first and take practical measures to curb pollution. Pledges of greater efforts should not be just lip service and the efforts should not be relaxed even at a time when the economy is slowing. People expect the regions in the north to take effective measures rather than just rely on the wind for good air quality.