Cleaning Beijing for the Olympics

Because Beijing is so polluted, the performance of athletes could suffer due to the poor air quality. China has decided to take drastic measures to clean up the air:

Under rules to curb smog and traffic congestion that will last from July 20 to Sept. 20, owners of 3.3 million private cars can drive only on alternate days in China’s capital, based on whether the last digit of their license plates is even or odd.

Freight trucks that don’t meet minimal emission standards were banned July 1…

Over the weekend, the city also opened a $2.3-billion subway line linking the northern Zhongguancun area, the capital’s high-tech neighborhood, with its central business district.

Beijing has gone on a spending spree, relocating factories, seeding clouds, retiring old vehicles, planting millions of trees and halting building construction amid concerns that athletes and visitors could suffer breathing problems.

The prospect of competitors wearing masks during events has spurred authorities to set a goal of 256 “blue-sky” days this year, up from 100 in 1998. World record holder and asthma sufferer Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia has opted to pull out of the marathon and concentrate instead on the 10,000-meter event. Other teams are training for as long as possible outside China.

Naturally (and unfortunately), this is all highly temporary. But take a look at a picture of the pollution at the beginning of July and a picture a few weeks later — and this is even before the even-odd driving regulation takes effect.

6 comments left



Yeah it is a shame those regulations weren’t implemented earlier or with longer intent, but they are good nonetheless. But beware of those pictures. I don’t know much about the science of it all, or how quickly those regulations could change the look of pollution, but I know from experience (living outside Albuquerque with a great view of the city) that visible pollution changes day to day, depending on temperature, humidity, rainfall and a bunch of other weather factors. So even though that guy did the right thing by matching the time of day and location for the two photos, the results don’t actually show much other than that Day B is different from Day A.


I bet wind would be one of those bunch of other weather factors.


Eh. The pollution probably doesn’t matter for athletes’ performance anyway, since everyone’s going to be using EPOs…


Though, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for China to get its act together regardless.


Wow. So much for that effort, huh? I guess I’m confused as to why Beijing officials would wait until a few weeks prior to the games to implement any sort of regulations or efforts to remedy the VERY CLEAR pollution situation… How long have we known this city was going to host the Olympics? It’s a nice gesture, but it is so clearly far too little, too late.

Alexander Micek

Most. Polluted. Olympics. EVER.

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