Posted by: Tony Carson | 4 August, 2007

Polluted Beijing: the breathless Olympics?

The yin and yang of the Beijing Olympics: $40 billion invested in a phenomenal infrastructure … that because of the air pollution no one can endure.
Beijing has always been one of the world’s most polluted cities and that was before it found western capitalism with its obligator traffic snarl: the city already has 3 million vehicles on the city streets, and is adding a further 1,000 new vehicles every day.

But it isn’t just exhaust pollution creating the smog that is obliterating the city’s impressive and elaborate Olympic-inspired skyline. As this article in the Globe and Mail entitled Triumphs amid the haze points out, dust is also a dandy:

Yet the hazards of the Beijing Olympics are revealed by the smog of the sky and the dust of the construction site. Pollution is one of the biggest threats to the Games, and the city is failing to get a grip on the problem.

In a curiously old-fashioned attempt to suppress the dust, a small army of cleaning women are patrolling the Olympic construction site.Wearing masks, hats and head scarves, they resemble alien creatures as they battle against the dust.

So the city is trying to deal with its legendary problem. But it has to do more. Already the International Olympic Committee has warned that Beijing’s air is not yet good enough for outdoor sporting events.


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