Hazy Smog Numbers

Wired compiles statistics and reports on the air pollution in Beijing.  According to BBC numbers, the anti-smog efforts of the government have done almost nothing to lower pollution- but steady rainfall helps.  According to the Chinese government, everything is great! Breath deeply!  The IOC says everything is just fine, too, but the numbers from the WHO and the BBC would indicate otherwise.

Meanwhile, some of the US Olympic cycling team wore respiratory masks while arriving in Beijing, over concerns about the pollution.  They’ve since apologized for it, since apparently their gracious hosts are a bit embarrassed about their dirty air- which sounds perfectly polite and reasonable, as long as they keep the masks on if the air pollution continues to be bad.  (Via Huffington Post)

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4 Responses to “Hazy Smog Numbers”


  1. 1 Jaynee August 7, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Yes, but that steady rain that has vacuumed the yuk out of the air is simply poisoning the ground water, grass & trees, rotting rooftops, pitting fencing and roads and everything else that it hits, and is undoubtedly marinating earthworms in its evil-ness. Rain really isn’t “helping” after all….

    My former boss, Ray Culter, who was a VP at The Nature Conservancy, now is the top guy at American Rivers. What they do is pretty great (actually what TNC does is pretty great, too.) and eye opening.

  2. 2 virescent August 7, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Good point. Not that they don’t have enough issues with water quality for the Olympics before the gunk in their air gets washed out- there are algal blooms in the sailing lanes (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/event/story.cfm?c_id=502&objectid=10519575).

    A lot of the coverage on the pollution has focused only on air quality, and only in terms of how it will impact the Olympic athletes. The real problem is what it’s doing to the people of Beijing everyday, to the city buildings and surrounding ecosystem, and if they’re going to do anything after the big event to clean it up for good. But that story isn’t as topical, I guess, and I doubt it will be covered very much. China doesn’t seem too helpful about providing that information anyway.

  3. 3 Heather's Garden August 13, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    I was in Beijing 4 years ago and it was disgusting. I wore white t-shirts and a few minutes after going outside they were covered with little black spots of a soot-like substance. I had trouble catching my breath as we navigated the city doing the tourist thing. Granted, it’s probably better now 4 years and a massive effort to clean-up in time for the Games, but that won’t last long.

  4. 4 virescent August 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    That sounds pretty disgusting, Heather. I can’t even imagine trying to enjoy a new city that way.

    I read a book on coal (review up soon, I hope) that described the air in major industrial cities, and even big cities that burned coal for heat before the industrial revolution, just that way. It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far in cleaning up our air, but China is just getting to that stage.


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