This is Not from the Remake of BladeRunner

January 21, 2013



You probably have seen the extreme smog in Beijing, so bad that you can observe it from space. But this shot blew my mind just because it looks like a frame from Blade Runner. So awesome—if you don’t live there. [Twitter]

A little reminder. Pollution doesn’t get cleaned up because the powerful exercise their benificent magnanimity and support the common good.
It happens because people exert pressure on their leaders to change.  The darkness in this picture tells you as much about China’s human rights as its industrial growth.


7 Responses to “This is Not from the Remake of BladeRunner”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    It does look like China is going to address this. At least they’re not excluding the PM2.5 numbers like they were a few years back.

    And let’s not forget that 1) major Western cities used to have terrible air quality as well ( see link below ) and 2) part of the reason for this horrendous pollution is that we exported some of our pollution to them.

    They may have wanted to get our dollars but we’re not blameless.

    From 1981 to 1995, Chinese coal consumption went from 675 thou to 1.5 mil tonnes so doubling in 15 yrs before several years of significant decline, bottoming at 1.2 mil tonnes

    Then in 2001, consumption started to rise tremendously and by 2010 had TRIPLED to 3.7 mil tonnes.

    In 30 yrs, China has increased from 18% to 46% of the annual global consumption of coal and now burns through as much in 1 yr as the entire world did in 1980.

    I don’t call that progress for any of us.

  2. […] Gizmodo: You probably have seen the extreme smog in Beijing, so bad that you can observe it from space. But this shot blew my mind just because it looks like a frame from Blade Runner. So awesome—i…  […]

  3. Wes Says:

    I certainly hope that if any of humanity survives what we are doing to the planet that the remnant makes avoiding “the tragedy of the commons” the bedrock principle of the new civilization. Unfortunately we evolve in technology faster than we evolve in consciousness. See Don Beck and Spiral Dynamics for that. The majority of humanity seems content to pass the developing catastrophe on to the next generations rather than suffer any inconvenience. The science seems clear that +4C and higher will be very inconvenient indeed. With Obama seeming to be willing to be missing in action for another 4 years the prospects are not too good.

  4. jimbills Says:

    This is a function of economic growth in the industrial model – rapid expansion of the energy sector using the cheapest available source (coal, oil). Assuming the growth trends continue, expect India and other developing countries to follow.

    And on an even cheerier note:


    Much of the CO2 emissions being put out today are very likely mitigated in net effect by the aerosols in smog. In effect, clean up the air, increase the CO2 warming effect. Other option: don’t clean up the air, continue the emissions, and continue the immediate health risks from smog. Lose, lose. Not considered: abandon the industrial growth model. That’s just crazy talk.

  5. ahaveland Says:

    Even leaders have to breathe, and the pollution is a spectacularly bad advertisement for the country’s image, so Something Will Be Done.

    If their leadership wants to fix pollution and “Make it So”, then it will be “Made So”, with the expediency of Captain Picard…

    In spite of its faults, the Chinese style of leadership is a good thing in this case.

  6. […] 2013/01/21: PSinclair: This is Not from the Remake of BladeRunner [Beijing smog] […]

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