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Over a billion Chinese people are celebrating the Lunar New Year with fireworks displays and firecrackers. But the month-long smog that engulfed many parts of central and eastern China has sparked a debate over whether the use of fireworks should be allowed.
If you look out over Beijing, it’s like a battlefield...
This is the familiar sound of Chinese New Year celebrations.
Since ancient times, Chinese have used firecrackers to usher in the Lunar New Year, and the explosions, which go on day and night for almost a month, are intended to scare off evil spirits.
I wish everybody health and happiness!
But while scaring away the imaginary demons, another spectre has come to haunt the festival.
Zou Ji, Climate expert, said, "If we take the environment into consideration, we shouldn’t be using firecrackers at Spring Festival. Gunpowder is used in firecrackers, it gives off unburned carbon monoxide, and pollutants like PM10, and PM2.5."
Warnings like this have been made for decades, but they’ve never been taken quite as seriously as they are this year.
Throughout January, a record level of smog blanketed almost all of central and eastern China, and Beijing was among the cities worst hit.
People were forced to wear masks outside.
Traffic became congested because visibility was so poor.
Flights were cancelled... and sports classes suspended at schools.
Many air quality monitoring stations reported that the density of pollutants exceeded the maximum they could monitor.
Some have come to ask if now is the time to stop using fireworks. But many more are still out on the streets observing the traditional noisy celebration.
Why do you still use fireworks when we now know that it contributes to the smog?
It’s Chinese New Year. That’s the most important holiday for Chinese.
Without fireworks it’s not a proper Chinese New Year.
Everyone is coming out.
I’ve also brought my children out for the fireworks and celebrations.
Sources say with fireworks going off in Beijing, the density of pollutant PM2.5 has immdiately soared by 40 times. The air again is facing severe pollution.
So this is really difficult. On the one hand everyone is worried about the environment, but on the other hand fireworks and firecrackers are a fundamental part of ancient Chinese tradition. For a billion Chinese, that presents a dilemma. Despite this, it’s still time to celebrate. Happy New Year from Beijing China.
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