January 18, 2013

Regarding the Jan. 14 news article “A smog-shrouded city demands answers”:

Landing in Beijing to begin a China tour in October, I was dismayed to see yellow smog hanging over the city as we descended. Worse, as I exited the aircraft, I was greeted by the acrid smell of the city’s pollution while still in the airport. As our bus made its way through mind-boggling traffic into the city, several of us wondered if there had been a major fire that day. We soon learned that the near-toxic air was a cloud spawned by China’s newfound economic boom. And while a brief rainstorm gave way to better conditions over the next few days, throughout the three weeks I spent in China, the atmosphere of nearly all the cities I visited (especially Shanghai, Chongqing and Hong Kong) was on a par with Beijing.

The tour was splendid, but I returned to the United States with a considerably modified opinion regarding the possible role of mankind in global warming. Even the many “new” cities along the Yangtze River, built to accommodate those displaced by the Three Gorges Dam, were visibly shrouded with a yellow haze. China, it seems to me, is an economic muscle car without a catalytic converter.

John Bertak, Laurel