UPDATE: It's come to our attention that LEDs in Beijing — the one above from Tiananmen Square — are not broadcasting images of the sun because the smog is so heavy. Tech In Asia points out that the video is part of an advertising campaign like this one. Paul Bichoff writes, "In truth, that sunrise was probably on the screen for less than 10 seconds at a time, as it was part of an ad for tourism in China’s Shandong province. The ad plays every day throughout the day all year round no matter how bad the pollution is. "
For those living and working in Beijing during the winter when stalled weather fronts and increased coal-burning exacerbate smog, this advertisement could be the only sun people see, though.
China’s air pollution problem is off the charts. Last year around this time, public outrage lit up the Internet when authorities in Beijing confirmed that air quality readings for PM 2.5 — particles small enough deeply to penetrate the lungs — hit 993 micrograms per cubic meter. This week, air quality readings in the capital city were the worst so far this winter, rising above 500 micrograms per cubic meter for the first time ever. The World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20; 300 is considered dangerous.
The country’s State Council already mandated that sulfur content for both petrol and diesel be lowered from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm and implemented the mandate early last year in Beijing. (Other cities will have until the end of 2017.) But by the looks of it, the mandate has done little to alleviate the smog. According to the Daily Mail, Beijing’s mayor pledged on Thursday to cut coal use by 2.6 million tons. But Beijing is not the only city with a major pollution problem. Last December, the coastal city of Shanghai reported PM 2.5 readings exceeding 600 and last October, the northeastern city of Harbin reported PM 2.5 rates of up to 1,000.
Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images