BEIJING — In the wake of Beijing’s first ever “Red Alert” air pollution advisory, a new poll suggests that a significant fraction of the city’s residents have been unable to see the government’s warnings through the dense urban smog.
Beijing experienced the most intense smog of 2015 last week as winter coal fires were started across the city. Schools and workplaces remained open despite the signage, flashing billboards, and TV alerts advising residents to stay home. The advisory-effectiveness poll confirmed that many of Beijing’s residents simply could not see the government warnings.
“Red Alert?” asked 28-year-old Beida University student, Wang Xian, pointing to one of the many signs placed throughout the city. “I would say that looks more like a brown or even a beige alert to me.”
Beijing officials are hoping to crack down on the worst emitters in hopes of improving current air conditions. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the city’s environmental inspectors described the plans to combat the smog.
“It’s difficult to make out the polluters with the current situation as it is. We will arrest the responsible parties as soon as the smog clears up.”