I think L.A. has lost its title as an American city with the biggest traffic jams. China is the new champ….traffic has been snarled in Beijing, China since roadwork began on August 13. Some roadways which circle Beijing had to be closed… further complicating traffic flows. The traffic is backed up almost to the border of Inner Mongolia, China’s nearest neighbor to the north. Much of China’s coal supplies come via trucks hauling it from Mongolian coal mines so the big coal trucks are part of the 60 mile traffic jam that could last for many weeks.
It is reported that villagers along the traffic jam route have become entrepeneurs, selling noodles, other food and supplies to the people caught in the jam who do not want to leave their vehicles. The Jam victims are willing to pay the elevated prices that villagers are charging for their wares…desperation time has come.
China’s highways suffer from wear and tear from the huge coal trucks that have to navigate their way around the one and only way to get into Beijing and to the large factories that burn the coal for industrial purposes.
Complicating matters in China, its coal consumption is 1.9 billion tons per year and has been rising for the past five years. Another complication is China’s burgeoning population which is the largest in the entire world with 1, 339, 098 people living in China as of 2009. This compares with a U.S. population of ONLY 310,080!
Chinese citizens used to ride their bikes everywhere but are rapidly changing to driving gas-driven vehicles which cause air pollution on a grand scale. During the Olympics in Beijing, people were forbidden to drive their cars in order to cut back on the thick smog which would have affected the Olympic athletes and given China a bad name as a polluter of the atmosphere. They are already doing that big time with their high coal- burning factories which pump CO2 into the air on a gargantuan scale. Cutting back greenhouse gases in the U.S. and other European countries does not count for much because China and India with their growing populations and the huge increase in industrialization are putting so much coal smoke into the worlds’ atmosphere, Â it cancels out the feeble attempts of other countries to reduce carbon emissions.
In an article from “Science News”, Dec. 20, 1997, it is estimated that in 50 years (2047, should the world make it that long) the Chinese people who own cars will jump to 400 million. Picture the traffic jams then!!! The population will also increase in that 50 year period so maybe the prediction for car ownership is way off….it could be higher with China’s increasing prosperity due to its continuing industrialization. Couple that with the belching coal- burning factories and you can imagine a real smog-soup in future years.
A computer simulation (not really reliable as we have seen failed computer models in the global warming dispute) of air currents shows China producing a broad plume of ozone pollution, generated by the nitrogen oxides in car exhaust. “We compute that cars would bathe the entire western Pacific in ozone, which means that Korea and Japan would have ozone levels comparible to those in Los Angeles on a bad summer day.” (Science News article)
I do not know if the computers used to produce the “model” for this prediction were able to predict any kind of statistics on future Chinese traffic jams that might last a lot longer than 9 weeks!!!!
We may yet read about a year-long traffic jam on Chinese highways that will have Chinese drivers packing portable homes, a long-time food supply, portable outhouses, a many- month supply of clean clothing and other necessities to survive the 12 months or longer traffic jams that might “compute” with the rise of automobiles being driven by over 400 million or more new drivers.
Can you imagine children in Chinese schools being asked to write a short essay about “What I Did This Summer”?Â Â Â The first line might go like this, “My family and I spent the entire summer in a traffic jam outside of Shanghai.Â Â While we were there we learned to wash clothes in a pond next to the highway. We used the pond water in our Super Water Purifier to provide water for drinking, cooking and taking showers in with our portable shower stall complete with soap and shampoo. I met many new people in the traffic jam and learned to speak 4 new dialects of Chinese. We got home the day before school started so I have not seen any of my regular friends yet. It was not a nice vacation likeÂ I had anticipated.”
After reading about the now-nine week traffic jam for 60 miles from the outskirts of Beijing to the border of Mongolia, this might not be such a tall tale after all!!!!