Beijing's mayor declares city to be unlivable due to life-choking smog What may appear to foreigners as a city swathed in fog on a cold rainy day is really a Chinese city smothered in smog, a type of air pollution so dangerous that some officials refer to the city as “unliveable,” The Guardian reports. Over recent years, China’s air pollution has grown increasingly worse, prompting government officials to call for total reform of its industrial practices. However, the trek to curb this environmental crisis has been a slow one, with economic growth still taking precedence over public safety. Chinese officials blame the country’s increased pollution on widely distributed polluting factories, as well as a significant increase in the amount of motor vehicles on the roadways. “At the present time, however, Beijing is not a liveable city,” said the city’s mayor, Wang Anshun.  Fossil emissions in China have increased nine-fold since the 1950s, with approximately 2.1 billion tons of coal produced and burned there each year. Home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, roughly one-third of China’s land receives acid rainfall, merely one side effect of severe environmental pollution. “Acidification now affects some 30 percent of China’s cropland, and the estimated damage to farms, forests, and human health is US $13 billion,” according to the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2006 report. In addition to the environment, this level of pollution poses extreme risks to human health. As noted by the Worldwatch Institute, a recent study found that nearly half a million premature deaths were caused by diseases linked to air pollution. Approximately 50,000 newborn babies are killed each year by air pollution, according to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. The region’s deteriorating air quality is contributing to an increase in acute respiratory inflammation, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. More