Smog Is Gross, But it Makes For Oddly Beautiful Pictures

Happy Earth Day!

byThe Drive StaffJul 10, 2019 6:05 AM
Smog Is Gross, But it Makes For Oddly Beautiful Pictures
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In the late 19th- and early 20th-century London, the newly industrial metropolis contended with an issue known as "pea soup fog." The city's factories, foundries, and power plants were belching nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, smoke, and particulate matter into the air, forming a layer of visible pollution that typically quippy British residents named after a particularly opaque soup. We know it as the portmanteau of "smoke" and "fog": "smog." The modern stuff, the stuff that hovers famously over Los Angeles, is a more advanced strain. There, and more extremely in cities like Delhi and Beijing, car fumes percolate in the atmosphere and react with sunlight, creating secondary pollutants that thicken the air. (Ozone is one, famous secondary pollutant.) A multitude of cars and sun produces more than just dark tans.

It's bad for the earth, the animals, and us, but smog can also be strangely beautiful. While we wish the earth's cities nothing but crystal-clear, clover-smelling air, at least the particular-choked ether makes for some violently beautiful sunsets and a murky moodiness befitting the best LA noir thrillers. As we condemn pollution and look forward to legislation to bring about a cleaner world, take a gander at the perverse beauty of our current smoggy situation. As with those luscious, carcinogenic new-car smells that we can't help but gulp down, smog-photography (phosmography?) has a fatal tastiness to it. Enjoy.

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Harbin, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Beijing, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Noida, India, Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Shanghai, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Hangzhou, China, STR/AFP/Getty Images
Hohhot, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Karnal, India, Feng Li/Getty Images
Hangzhou, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Suzhou, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Beijing, China, GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images
Shandong Province, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Dalian, China, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Shandong Province, China, Xinhua/Feng Jie via Getty Images
Harbin, China, Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
New Delhi, India, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Mumbai, India, Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Palangkaraya, Indonesia, BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images
Utah, United States, George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Beijing, China, Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rietschen, Germany, ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
Beijing, China, Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images
Medellin, Antioquia, RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
Shanghai, China, RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images