The Comeback of Shenyang

They are sometimes used in a stylistic way, with decorations on the masks, but for the most part, they are standard and one color. I asked a few of my students about this. Time and time again, the students referred to the air. More specifically, the air pollution and the pressure it puts on their lungs in the winter time.

The need for cleaner air is already present in Shenyang. It’s not a warning for future generations like some climate issues in the States. Instead, it’s a present and dangerous reality that a lot of people have to live with. As someone who is not used to people wearing masks everywhere, I was strongly surprised that the students were so open about this issue. But when the problem has been around for their entire lives, I guess they think about it differently. It’s not a weird thing to hide or be ashamed of - instead, it’s a fact of life.

Why does the community have this need?:

As a massive industrial city, Shenyang has burned a lot of fossil fuels in their day. From coal to natural gas, companies have filled the air with pollutants that are causing harm to the current generation. Fortunately, after the economic downturn in the 1980s when industries took a huge hit, their production of toxic fossil fuels slowed down. However, from the decades of manufacturing, the air quality is still bad. An unhealthy air quality levels is anything over 100. Shenyang easily surpasses this and for months at a time during the winter. The effects on people are harmful and will continue to be for years to come.

Is this need being met? How?:

This is a complicated question, mostly because China in general still relies on coal for its energy and industrial needs.