Via jaaron

Photo of Beijing smog by jaaron on Flickr.

Last week, the Chinese government demanded that foreign embassies stop reporting independent air pollution measurements. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, for example, has a monitor on its roof that automatically tweets information about the city’s particulate and ozone pollution.

The government claims that its objection is based on the small sample size such readings necessarily represent. The real critique, of course, is that air pollution in that nation’s capital is an ongoing source of tension and embarrassment — one that the government would rather not be a matter of public knowledge. It’s embarrassing to have your carefully crafted messaging fall apart in the face of scientific evidence.

But that’s China — a repressive regime that mirrors 1984, right? It doesn’t know the freedoms and honest debate that comes from living in a democracy.

Hold that thought.

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[Virginia] State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the “sea level rise” study in the General Assembly to one on “recurrent flooding,” said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

That’s from the BBC, by way of Climate Progress. Note: This is not a repeat. Our earlier story about sea-level rise reflected North Carolina‘s efforts to make measuring the rise illegal. This story, believe it or not, is probably stupider.

And in some ways what Stolle insisted upon is even more egregious than what China has asked. China at least admits that there is pollution, arguing that embassies shouldn’t publish data because what they have gathered represents only a small sample size. At least that argument is rooted in some sense of how science works. Stolle, on the other hand, considers an expression describing the state of the world to have a political bias. The analogy would be China claiming that the expression “air pollution” is a tool of capitalist oligarchs.

If it, I’m curious how State Delegate Stolle would react.