Walking the line between cluelessness and dark comedy, Xinhua’s English-language Twitter account on Monday called global attention to what may be the worst air pollution reading since China started monitoring and publishing P.M. 2.5 data, or the density of toxic particles, in 2013.
The thick, toxic air shrouded the city of Shenyang for much of the weekend, turning day to smoggy night and severely limiting visibility. Photographs from the city show buildings enveloped by airborne grit and commuters caught in an otherworldly, gray haze.
Data released by the Shenyang Environmental Protection Agency on Sunday showed the density of toxic particles — PM2.5 — was more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. (The World Health Organization says a reading of 25, on average, over 24 hours, is safe.)
Local officials said the pollution-levels topped 1200. Xinhua put the figure at 1400. The U.S. Consulate in Shenyang, which publishes regular updates, registered the air as “beyond,” meaning, off the chart.
“There is a level of admiration I actually have for China because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to actually turn their economy around on a dime and say we need to go green, we need to start, you know, investing in solar. There is a flexibility that I know Stephen Harper must dream about: having a dictatorship where you can do whatever you wanted, that I find quite interesting.”