Earlier this week, a thick layer of smog rolled into China’s capital city, turning skyscrapers into shadows and clear air into a yellow fog. Caught on a time lapse by Chas Pope, the smog rolls in like a dust storm in a desert, billowing into the streets of Beijing.
Why does smog keep blanketing Beijing? Smog in China has many causes, including pollution from industries and traffic, but it tends to happen more often in the winter, when plummeting temperatures cause electricity demand to soar. This pollution can come from many sources, but burning coal has been linked to the largest number of air pollution deaths in China, causing 366,000 premature deaths in 2013.
In the winter, more families are turning on their heaters—and most of the energy used to run them comes from coal-fired power plants that send tiny particles of charred dust into the air.