We in these parts occasionally lament our "inversion," which results in poor air quality for a few days. Wood stove use is banned, and people are encouraged to drive less. (Yeah, right. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.)
There are far worse places. Like the big cities in China.
Check out this photo essay of the current situation. Daytime is turned to night. In the past month, the pollution in Beijing reached 993 micrograms per cubic meter. That doesn't mean much to me... this helps - it's 40 times the World Health Organization's safe limit!
Glad I'm not there!
Of course, it's a fairly recent phenomenon in China. 40 years ago, they were largely an agricultural society with very limited world trade. People got around on foot, or on their beloved bicycles, or by public transit. Now they are the producer of everything from cheap Walmart junk, to almost every shoe sold, to the world's bicycle fleet, to the screen you are most likely looking at, at this very moment. All that production requires power, and power means dynamos spinning, often by means of coal. All that production has also brought prosperity, which they use to hang up the bicycle and buy a car.