Friday, July 26, 2013

Coal Deaths

I recently became the first follower of a new Twitter presence, entitled CoalDeaths. It is an important topic in China.

Beijing, China (Summer 2012)
Just this week, a mining accident for sulfur cost at least ten more lives, but that pales in comparison to the the fact that in 2007 China produced one third of the world's coal but had four fifths of coal fatalities. That was a good year--down to 1.44 deaths per million tons of coal mined versus a 2002 high of 5.8 deaths per million tons of coal mined. In real numbers, 6,995 people died mining coal that horrible year.

Just when you thought I could get no more morbid, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science come out declaring that "the results [of their study] indicate that life expectancies are about 5.5 y (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) lower in the north [of China] owing to an increased incidence of cardiorespiratory mortality." In other words, given the size of China's population about 2.5 billion life years have been peeled off my neighbors.

Nowhere is more affected than Beijing. Famous for its bad air days, today was no exception:

Beijing Air Quality Index: 154 - Unhealthy
( on Friday, Jul 26th 2013, 22:00 pm )

Even though it rained gently and there was a gentle, persistent breeze, the sky was soaked in the sepia tones of old photographs. Cars belched and factories emitted and the wheels of progress turned the world a little hotter.