China's oppressive smog has reduced the life expectancy of its citizens, hurt tourism and practically shut down Harbin, a city of 11 million people.
Now, the smog is threatening national security, the government says. Last month, when visibility in Harbin dropped below three meters because of heavy smog it also rendered the surveillance cameras that blanket the city useless.
The central government has invested heavily in a nationwide surveillance network that allows police to monitor practically every major street and corner in large cities, the South China Morning Post reported. But heavy smog containing thick layers of particles limits the view of the surveillance cameras.
The government is so concerned about smog's impact on its security network that it is funding two teams of scientists to come up with solution within four years, the South China Morning Post reported.
Smog in China is so vast that you can see it from space. The Chinese government has issued a new round of subsidies for alternative energy vehicles, proposed charging drivers of gasoline-powered cars a congestion fee and has announced plans to reduce the amount of coal it burns for electricity. It's even looking into a new electronic vacuum that sucks smog particles to the ground by creating an electromagnetic field using cooper coils.
Photo of Pearl River in Guangzhou: Flickr user, J Aaron