A few years back I didn’t take any interest in east coast air pollution. But in 2013, there were a few very obvious hazy days which we suddenly realised was nasty air. Before that, either too busy or too unobservant . But https://www.windyty.com/ along with http://aqicn.org/map/taiwan/ is really bringing home what happens here on the island.
Polluted air rolled in this morning, as HH said, vertically down the east coast. Hualien earlier today was 91, considered high on the east. Now, after an afternoon of steady rain, it’s dropped back into the green (just, 46).
I don’t know what the solution is here. Even if the west coast managed to clean up its own emissions (and that seems impossible in the short-term, there’s no clear plan that I know of), it would still be affected by air from the Chinese mainland. In the meantime, whilst the Hualien air is often still good, local development is increasing all the time and traffic congestion is growing. Bridges and wider roads are being constructed which will lead, as everyone knows, to an increase in vehicles. The new Su-Hua highway is well underway and will open in a few years, bringing a stream of steady traffic down from Taipei through Yilan. The air quality here is only going to go downhill, and I’m pessimistic.