Ib Sl Geography – Urban Environments Case Study: Air Pollution in Beijing

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IB SL Geography – Urban Environments
Case Study: Air Pollution in Beijing

1. What evidence is there that Chinese cities in general suffer from air pollution?

Due to Chinas recent exponential economic growth, pollution has been put to one side and has not been a priority in most cases. Air pollution, a negative externality of economic growth, in China’s northern cities exceed the standards of the World Health Organisation by 5 or 6 times.
Respiratory disease, often a result of soot-clogged lungs, is the leading cause of death in China, accounting for 26 per cent of all deaths. Compared to the United States this mortality rate is 5 ½ times worse. A study showed that particles in the Chinese air cause 915,000 premature deaths each year, including those of 300,000 children who die from lung infections. Another 600,000 adults die early of some sort of respiratory blockage and 15,000 fall victim to lung cancer caused by bad, polluted air.

2. Identify the main source of air pollution in Beijing.

The main source of air pollution in Beijing, and in most Chinese cities, is the burning of coal. Coal is the main fossil fuel used for heating, cooking and for industry. China has large reserves of coal, however most of it is of very poor quality, and containing large amounts of sulphur. Over 60% of Beijing's total energy consumption is coal, representing just over 30 million tonnes per annum. Of this total use of coal, 70% of it is consumed by the manufacturing industry, 20% of it consumed by domestic households and the last 10% by other activities such as transport and shops.

3. What is the “heating season” in Beijing, and why is it significant?

The use of coal is highly seasonal in Beijing. Heating is strictly regulated and all heaters are turned on at the beginning of winter on the same date and all are turned off with the arrival of spring. During…...

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