China's Smog Is 'Nuclear Winter' Bad
Crop scientist says the nation's food supply is at risk
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2014 12:36 PM CST
Vehicles clog a main highway during a sixth straight day of severe pollution in Beijing Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(Newser) – Just how lousy is Beijing's air these days? Chinese President Xi Jinping found it necessary to demonstrate his support for the people by ... walking around and breathing yesterday. That's it. "Breathing the same air, sharing the same fate," read the headline on the state's official news agency website, reports the Australian. Heroically, Xi didn't even wear a mask. But a Chinese crop scientist says the smog is approaching levels "somewhat similar to a nuclear winter" and warned that it could have devastating consequences for the nation's food supply, reports the Guardian.

As an experiment, the scientist planted two batches of chili and tomato seeds, one in a lab under artificial light and the other in a suburban Beijing greenhouse. The lab seeds sprouted in 20 days, while the others took more than 60, and "they will be lucky to live at all," she says. Poor light, poor photosynthesis. Beijing is currently enduring a particularly bad stretch in which "the air is off-the-charts bad," writes Hannah Beech in Time; she lives in Beijing with her family and had to send her two young boys off to school in masks last week. She notes that public sentiment seems to be reaching a breaking point—a citizen in Shijiazhuang has filed what is believed to be the first suit against the government tied to the bad air.

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Showing 3 of 88 comments
Feb 27, 2014 11:00 PM CST
They are fouling the air in the entire region
Feb 27, 2014 10:54 PM CST
Smog is bad, M'kay?
Feb 27, 2014 7:02 AM CST
China's air is our air. Same atmosphere people. When will we get it through our thick heads, that pollution does not recognize borders or boundaries. Sickening air, poisoned water doesn't bode well for anyone's future. Environmentalists are vilified, scientists are ignored when telling us what we don't want to hear. Save the Planet! It's the only one we've got.