We received a welcome e-mail recently from Alexandria Liu, a bright master’s student at Peking University. We met Alexandria during a trade-mission trip to Asia that we took with Governor O’Malley and a business contingent from Maryland in 2011. Alexandria recently sent a photo of her with a friend on horseback in Beijing. They seemed to be riding in a cloud, so thick was the smog. In the photo, the trees were only 200 feet behind her, as she described it, but you could barely make them out. After being out in the elements for two hours, Alexandria and her friend were sick with a sinus infection for two days, she wrote.
Recent news reports about the horrific air quality there appeared in the Los Angeles Times and in a Washington Post blog. The blog even mentioned a Twitter account @BeijingAir tied to a monitor a top the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that continually spits out air quality readings.
We noticed the severe conditions on our trip to China. The smog in Shanghai was stunning. The Yangtze River there is about as wide as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, but you couldn’t see across it. Amid President Obama’s emphasis this week on reaffirming a commitment to combat climate change, it might sound counter-intuitive but bringing back more manufacturing to the United States would help. Continue reading