I turned on the television yesterday morning, intending to find Dora the Explorer for my daughter and a bit of peace for myself (shut up! There's nothing with a little television first thing in the morning. But I digress...).
There on the television was a woman reporting live from La Canada, California - just down the road from my old high school. Apparently, there are a couple of serious fires in the area. The smoke from the fires, she reported, is so bad that everybody needs to stay inside. She cut to some "man on the street" interviews, in which people complained about itchy eyes and scratchy throats.
Here's the thing: throughout her report, you could see smoke billowing in the background. Lots of smoke, to be sure. But you could also see blue sky. So I wondered: just how bad is this air they're breathing?
I paid a visit to my favorite website to find out. According to the air quality map, the air in southern California was "moderate:" on their scale of 0-250, the air was registering between 51-100.
By contrast, yesterday was a very nice day in Beijing. You could see blue sky. The breezes were blowing a lot of the nasty grey junk away, for the first time in weeks. Yet when I checked our air quality yesterday morning, we were already at 117 - worse than the air during a forest fire in SoCal, and this on a good day. This morning, we're at 182 already - unhealthy for everyone, not just sensitive people like children and the elderly.
It makes me want to move back to Los Angeles. I'd be the only person there marveling at the clean air in the summertime. And, comparatively speaking, I'd be right.