Pollution blanketed Beijing on March 5, 2006. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Aqua satellite captured this image the same day. In this image, pollution tints nearly the entire area a uniform shade of brownish gray. Thick sediment likewise clouds the waters of Bo Hai, immediately to the southeast of the city. Only a band of white clouds contrasts with the rest of the image.
A report in Nature in 2005 indicated that 75 percent of the people in China’s urban areas lived below the country’s air-quality standard. In Beijing, this problem was exacerbated by the city’s sheer size. As of 2003, it was one of the world’s megacities, home to more than 10 million residents. As of early 2006, however, the Chinese government expressed a desire to address the problem of unrestrained growth. According to news reports, the Chinese government called for slower growth through 2011, partly in hopes of fostering a cleaner environment.