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Some parts of the world are still living in conditions resembling the Great Smog of London, only it doesn't go away after a while, but stays for years.

For example, the daily average pollution levels across all particulates being tracked in my city (PM 2.5/10, CO, SO2, NOx, and some others) have been several times that of the highest levels on the dirtiest day in London's history for the last 10 years.

If we compare, say, our daily averages taken on the dirtiest ~1/3 days in a year to the most polluted day in London's recent history, the ratio goes to something like 10-200x, depending on pollutant.


You'll never see it mentioned in big news outlets though. Who would give a damn? It's certainly not London.

It is mentioned though:



People do give a damn. Unfortunately governments around the world aren't often leaping to take effective action. It's the same with environmental issues in general.

Sorry, I should have been more clear in my whining. The largest cities are being talked about, be they located in Europe or Asia. It's the smaller ones who suffer the most and whose population has zero hope for any progress (or simply doesn't care).

Beijing is a health resort compared to where I am located. At least my friend claims so (he spent about 3 months there on a business trip back in 2011.)

I know of at least 3 cities in my country suffering from extreme air pollution. You won't find any news articles about any of them.

If you don’t mind me asking, which country are you in?

Sure, I am from Kazakhstan. The same situation can be found in pretty much every country in the region though.

I plan to take a lot of pictures during the upcoming winter, because almost no one on the English-speaking segment of internet believes that there can be so much pollution in the air, that it reduces visibility to 10 meters.

Any light you can shed on this (pun intended, of course) is welcome. Still, sounds incredible, is it just on peak times or on a daily basis?

In winter time, almost every evening, from 6:00 PM through the night. Except for windy days (from ~7 m/s upwards), which are pretty rare.

It's all because of the old Soviet heavy industry which hasn't been properly maintained since 1991 (say what you want about USSR, but there was more responsibility then), crappy gasoline, lots of old cars which made their first 100k miles in Germany or US, high sulfur coal being used in stoves... the whole shebang.

Did I mention that some people use cow dung/rubber/plastic rubbish in their stoves?

Yep, we're living on the same planet as you are.

It sounds terrible, I feel truly sorry anyone has to live with so much air pollution. You're right I haven't seen any coverage of Kazakhstan in the media I read.

Are you still using mazut as well?

Not the person you were asking, but I did a double take on your question because I had thought growing up in the DRC that "mazut" was the French word for diesel. Turns out mazut is a separate thing. Also, it was definitely used in the local heavy trucks up to the last time I was there in 2011 - ones like this: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5292/5509628757_f8219820b9_z....

> Unfortunately governments around the world aren't often leaping to take effective action.

This is a widespread issue. We are heavily dependent on the Government on almost every issue, and people seem to want to be more dependent on them. But the question is, what can we do about it that would be effective when we are getting pressure from all fronts because of misplaced power, and financial incentives?

You're right that the average air above London is often (not always) pretty clean compared to the world's most polluted cities. Right now I can look out my window and clearly see buildings that are several km away. Today, at least, there is very little visible haze.

But the real problem is London's narrow, busy streets with heavy motor vehicle traffic in very close proximity to where Londoners live, work, walk, go to school, etc. Anyone who spends much time in Central London is spending a significant portion of their lives in close proximity to the exhaust fumes from thousands of vehicles daily, so exposure to toxic pollutants in London is much worse than many measures of average air quality suggest!

On the bright side, there has been a noticeable improvement recently thanks to initiatives like the Central London ultra-low emission (ULEZ) zone, and the increasing numbers of electric taxis replacing the old diesel ones. One major area that still needs improvement is the buses - there are now some electric buses, but still far too many old, polluting diesel ones.

A lot of pollution isn't visible to the naked eye. PM 2.5 particulate emissions are so small that you can't see them.

> Some parts of the world are still living in conditions resembling the Great Smog of London

Those parts are usually in the same economic stage that London was when it had a similar air quality.

When a society crawls its way out of crushing poverty, there are more important things to use the new resources for than air quality. Once those are taken care of, all known societies have fixed the air situation.

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