An end to Beijing's bad air days.7/29/2008 5:24:26 AM
Beijing's Avenue of Eternal Peace runs straight as an arrow past Tiananmen Square Tiananmen Square, large public square in Beijing, China, on the southern edge of the Inner or Tatar City. The square, named for its Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen), contains the monument to the heroes of the revolution, the Great Hall of the People, the museum of through the heart of China's capital. It is not unusual for the smog to be so thick that anything more than 100 metres along the street in either direction is lost in a suffocating suf·fo·cate
v. suf·fo·cat·ed, suf·fo·cat·ing, suf·fo·cates
1. To kill or destroy by preventing access of air or oxygen.
2. To impair the respiration of; asphyxiate.
But when the city, one of the world's most polluted pol·lute
tr.v. pol·lut·ed, pol·lut·ing, pol·lutes
1. To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter. See Synonyms at contaminate.
2. , first bid for the 2008 Olympics, it made a commitment to host a "green games".
Almost a decade later, most environmentalists agree that a raft of emergency measures will probably enable Beijing to pull off the much-promised 'blue sky' Olympics.
But there are mixed opinions about the long-term outlook.
Wen Bo, China director of NGO NGO
Noun 1. NGO - an organization that is not part of the local or state or federal government
nongovernmental organization Pacific Environment, says there is little doubt measures such as reducing the number of cars on the street, shutting down factories and halting construction work will all have "an immediate effect on the air quality".
But once the games have been and gone, Wen fears it will be a case of back to business as normal. "The bad air will come back after the games are finished," he says.
Pollution may even worsen after the Olympics are over, Wen believes, as construction firms and factories rush to make up for time lost lying idle while the games are in progress.
The restrictions, which run from July 20 until September Until September is a 1984 romantic drama set in France. It stars Karen Allen as an American tourist in Paris who falls in love with a married Frenchman (Thierry Lhermitte). External links 20, include barring private vehicles from entering the city on alternate days depending on their licence plate licence plate n → (placa de) matrícula , as well as work stoppages at construction sites, chemical plants and factories around the capital.
A particular boost is expected to come from the closure of Beijing's biggest single polluter, Capital Steel.
The giant metal works, just 17km from Tiananmen Square, has shuttered shut·ter
1. One that shuts, as:
a. A hinged cover or screen for a window, usually fitted with louvers.
b. most of its steel mills and blast furnaces, cutting output by 70 per cent, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. state media.
But take away the possibly temporary effect of these emergency measures, some environmentalists say, and there is little evidence that Beijing has significantly tackled its pollution problem.
In a recently-released report in the final run up to the games, Greenpeace China gave an - at best - mixed assessment of Beijing's environmental efforts.
The environmental group said that while some important measures had been introduced to conserve water and energy, air pollution andndash; especially that caused by tiny particulate matter particulate matter
n. Abbr. PM
Material suspended in the air in the form of minute solid particles or liquid droplets, especially when considered as an atmospheric pollutant.
Noun 1. , known as PM10 andndash; remains a problem.
The report said it was significant that despite the introduction of such long-term measures, the pollution remained bad enough that Beijing had been forced to also adopt the temporary restrictions on vehicles and industry.
"Beijing could have adopted clean production measures more widely across the municipality MUNICIPALITY. The body of officers, taken collectively, belonging to a city, who are appointed to manage its affairs and defend its interests. to speed up the improvement of air quality and to ensure that standards are met for the whole year," Greenpeace said.
Nonetheless the group conceded that China has made impressive progress on several fronts.
"To the surprise of many western journalists, we would say the government is 95 per cent on track with their targets," Lo Sze Ping, Greenpeace's campaign director, said pointing to the amount of money pledged to improving the city's environment, including tightening vehicle emissions for cars and building four new subway lines.
However Lo said Greenpeace was concerned that Beijing authorities had missed opportunities to use the games to introduce more ambitious environmental protection measures.
A particular cause of concern, he said, was continued high levels of PM10 particulates - believed to be connected to increased risks of heart and lung diseases lung disease Pulmonary disease Pulmonology Any condition causing or indicating impaired lung function Types of LD Obstructive lung disease–↓ in air flow caused by a narrowing or blockage of airways–eg, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis; , including cancer.
As a result, Lo said, sports teams participating in the games "have reason to be concerned".
The problem, says Pacific Environment's Wen Bo, is that the positive changes have literally been cancelled out by an explosion in the number of new vehicles on the roads, the hectic pace of construction, and the growing number of people and businesses in the city.
Steven Q Andrews, an independent environmental consultant, is even more scathing.
"Last year, not a single day during the Olympic period met the agreed upon Adj. 1. agreed upon - constituted or contracted by stipulation or agreement; "stipulatory obligations"
noncontroversial, uncontroversial - not likely to arouse controversy World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality," he says.
"Through July 21, I believe there has only been two days that have met the WHO guidelines. But the efforts to improve air quality are being heralded by the Chinese government Ever since Republic of China founded in January 1st, 1912, China has had several regional and national governments. List
So where did the government go wrong?
Environmentalists say the main problem is that there is nobody to keep tabs on the government.
"When there is no watchdog the government can do pretty much what it wants, and it has done a great job of silencing environmental groups," says Wen.
The government, he says, needs to encourage a free press and a civil society to monitor and put pressure on local governments and to encourage the public to support greener lifestyles.
"They have been relying on technological fixes andndash; and they have put a lot of money into this - to get the environment clean, but they didn't realise citizen power is very important to safeguarding Beijing's environment."
Corruption has been a huge problem in getting factories to operate under guidelines, he adds.
Greenpeace too says that the Beijing games organisers did not give it "sufficient access to important information regarding Beijing's environmental progress," making it difficult "to accurately gauge how successful Beijing's environmental initiatives have been".
Andrews says the biggest problem is that China's public do not know the truth as local governments, under pressure to deliver good environmental records, doctor figures.
He says authorities have fiddled with official standards and moved air quality monitoring stations to make Beijing's pollution look less serious.
The most serious pollutant pol·lut·ant
Something that pollutes, especially a waste material that contaminates air, soil, or water. , ozone, is not even officially measured, Andrews says.
"I hope the air quality will improve after the Olympics, but since it hasn't improved in the build up to the Olympics, I am not optimistic op·ti·mist
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. A believer in philosophical optimism.
op ," he says.
"For the air quality to improve there needs to be transparent reporting of this environmental crisis."
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