6.12.2015

Beautiful Day 美好

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
...
It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
-U2




Just before 7 am yesterday, I hopped on my bike headed to my usual Thursday morning boot camp exercise. Suffering from a minor cold, I wasn’t feeling great and had contemplated canceling. I am glad I didn't.

As I turned the corner at the end of the alley, I caught sight of the sky looming large over an adjacent construction site. Clouds upon clouds stretched from here to the aquamarine mountains in the far distance.

This usual eyesore of a construction site seemed oddly beautiful. The blue grandeur and imposing white clouds gleamed over the piles of excavated dirt, towering cranes, and the grimy, spitting, urinating hard-hatted workers. As I stood on that street corner mesmerized by the vastness of it all, a gentle coolness breezed by. And I...I inhaled...and inhaled again through my sniffling nose. Ahhh, it’s going to be a beautiful day.

Seeing those clouds upon clouds stretching from here to there miraculously imparts energy and healing to even the most depressed of souls. Beijing suddenly seems beautiful. Beijing the beautiful. Beijing the clean. Beijing blue. Beijing made anew.

Headache...what headache?

Those clouds make those cranes look good!
Yesterday--and today-- will go down in history as the nicest days EVER I personally have EVER experienced EVER in Beijing. In fact, the previous month had so many remarkably nice days, that the remarkable days stopped being so remarkable. Is Beijing’s notorious air problem being resolved? Is this the start of a new era of easy breathing for Beijing and her inhabitants? Will Beijing gray turn into Beijing blue?

We may not be standing at the door of a pollution-free China just yet, but recent reports do support anecdotal musings that air quality is in fact improving. The average density of PM2.5 dropped 20 percent during the first four months this year, compared to the same period last year [1]. The year 2014 saw an average decrease in PM2.5 concentrations compared to the previous year [2]. These reports are based on U.S. Embassy gathered data, so we don’t have to be concerned that China’s government is making it all up. Truly, Beijing’s air quality is improving.

The government may be finally responding to both domestic and international discontent. Air pollution is a popular conversation topic here (especially when a Chinese person is trying to understand why a foreigner would move to such a polluted city). A recent online documentary blaming a newborn baby’s benign tumor on air pollution and criticizing China’s air pollution policies went viral [3]. Rare forms of cancer in children have been attributed to prolonged exposure to PM2.5 [4] . In general, China has a poor reputation internationally for not caring about the environment. A scientific study linking China’s air pollution with erratic weather in the United States is another reason to put China on environmental blacklists [5]. In addition, Beijing is in the running for hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. Surely, China wouldn’t want persistent pollution to sway voters to say nay [6].

The government claims that this year’s improved air quality results from implementing air pollution policies in and around Beijing. Drivers have been denied car registration. Coal plants have been shut down or moved elsewhere. And most recently, smoking has been banned. (Smoking is probably not a major contributor to poor air quality, but any decrease in pollution is more than welcome!) Recent strong winds and intermittent rain also keep Beijing gray at bay.

So for now, we are breathing a little easier under Beijing’s luminous skies. We leave the air masks at home. The stars greet us at night. Clouds upon clouds stretch from here to there. And I...I inhale...and inhale again.

Sniffling nose. What sniffling nose?

Word of the blog: 美好 Měihǎo
English translation: fine; glorious

Chinese Sentence of the blog: 多美好的一天嗯?Duō měihǎo de yītiān ń?
English Translation: What a beautiful day, huh?

Read More:
[1] Chinese vice premier demands improved air quality
[2] Got to Admit It’s Getting Better: Beijing’s Air Pollution Improved In 2014
[3] China pollution documentary goes viral attracting at least 155 million views
[4] Chinese child's lung cancer linked by doctors to air pollution
[5] China's air pollution leading to more erratic climate for US, say scientists
[6] Beijing accelerates air pollution control for Olympics expectation

My bootcamp got posted on a bystander's Wechat. The captions says something like this, "Came out for morning exercise, there was an exercise group. American girl led the group. So tired! Love self on the second day."
I'm diggin' the umbrella hat
Facebook is very happy because he can see blue sky today.
Happy lotus
This is a sidewalk movie theater under a Beijing blue sky


My happy face because of happy weather

A freeway overpass is a great place to get a good view