China's record-breaking air pollution has potentially wreaked havoc on the country's economy. Scientists here have cautioned that the country's toxic air pollution is now so worse that it resembles a nuclear winter, delaying photosynthesis in plants which has exacted a significant toll in food supply.
China's landlocked capital of 20m people is enduring toxic air pollution over the last few days that are not expected to abate until Thursday. Beijing's compression of PM 2.5 particles, which are tiny enough to perforate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream hit nearly 505 micrograms per cubic metre on Tuesday night. The World Health Organisation advises a safe level of 25.
The baneful air pollution has already hit the country economically, grounding flights, shutting up highways and keeping tourists at home. Around 11,200 people visited Beijing's Forbidden City on Monday which is about a quarter of the site's daily average draw.
Associate professor at China Agricultural University's College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, He Dongxian said that latest study has suggested that if the smoggy conditions continue, Chinese agriculture is destined to suffer serious conditions, which was somewhat similar to a nuclear winter.
She displayed that air pollutants cohere to greenhouse surfaces, curtailing the amount of light inside by about 50% and rigidly slowing photosynthesis, a process by which plants transmute light into life-sustaining chemical energy.
A recent report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences also claims that Beijing's air pollution has rendered the city almost uninhabitable for human beings. The Chinese government has time and again promised to rectify the problem, but execution still remains patchy. Last October, Beijing announced a system of emergency measures if pollution levels continued to remain hazardous for three days in a row, including shutting down schools, closing some factories and restraining the use of government cars.
China's state newswire Xinhua reports that 147 utilities in Beijing have cut or suspended production. However, schools continued to remain open and government cars were seen on the road.
According to the Chinese media, a man in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province near Beijing has filed a lawsuit against the local environmental protection bureau for failing to control the smoggy conditions. He also seeks RMB 10,000 (£1,000) in compensation for the pollution that has resulted in economic losses and health scares.
Climate and energy expert at Greenpeace East Asia, Li Yan said the case could expose several other polluted cities outside of Beijing, compelling provincial officials to address the problem. She said people suffering in Beijing have all the attention of both domestic and international media, however Shijiazhuang's environmental issues are even more critical, and this case could bring Shijiazhuang the attention it has deserved since a long time.