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As if today being a Monday wasn’t depressing enough, media outlets are reporting that the air quality and visibility in China’s capital city has become so bad that the state has begun televising live footage of sunrises on enormous screens ordinarily used for advertising. That’s right: with the real thing now almost completely hidden behind a thick layer of smog, people are actually watching nature on TV.

The smog, which is thought to mostly come from neighbouring Hebei Province – home to vast numbers of coal-burning factories and processing plants that serve the city – tends to worsen during winter as the air becomes still and demand for power increases. This year, however, residents have started complaining that the smog is so bad that they struggle to see even tall buildings at the opposite end of the street, let alone the distant sunrise.

With the air quality so poor, the state has begun using the large commercial screens installed in locations such as Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to broadcast footage of the sun as it rises, with citizens, deprived of the real thing, reportedly “flocking” to see it.

▼ This video, complete with creepy robotic narrator, shows how dire the situation is

It’s not just the lack of a decent view, though, that people – including those at the World Health Organisation – are concerned about: the air that Bejing’s citizens have no choice but to breathe day in, day out has been proven to be hazardous to their health, with levels of toxins way above safe levels. The Chinese government is allegedly taking steps to improve the situation by clamping down on its most polluting factories, but as China continues to expand at an unprecedented rate there are concerns that clean air, and with it clear skies, are still quite some way off.

Update: Tech in Asia reports that the situation in China may not be quite s it seems. Although Mail Online quotes numerous Beijing residents and accurately reports WHO’s findings and worrying air pollution data in its original article, other sources suggest that the images of sunrise used on the screens in Beijing are, in fact, part of an ad campaign – for which the screens were originally intended. In short, the air quality in China’s capital city may well be so poor that the sunrise is near impossible for residents to see this winter, but the Chinese government most likely hasn’t resorted to giving the people a digital version of nature . At least not yet!    

Source: Mail Online via Business Insider
Video/images: YouTube Newsclips247