Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pollution in Beijing

I noticed this series of articles this morning at I scanned the New York Times for the first time since being in China. China has been claiming for quite some time now that the pollution problem will be cleaned up in time for the Olympics but I have trouble believing it. The Olympics are only months away and the situation right now appears pretty grim. Many days I wake up in central Beijing to a pink haze that covers everything within site. Beijing's climate is very peculiar in that we haven't had rain in the month and a half that I've been here, but it is often very windy. The dry wind blows in dust from outside the city. The few trees that are are planted around the city are so covered with dust and particulate that their bark appears black in color. One day when I came out from school the hundreds of bikes parked in the schools courtyard had all been knocked over and were covered with dust and sand. Turns out there had been a sand storm while I was in class that morning. More alarming than the visual signs are the effects of this environmental crisis on the body. I consider myself to be a healthy teenager. I have minor asthma that pretty much never affects me when I'm in the states. Since coming to Beijing, we have had several days when I could clearly feel the poor air quality while running laps during gym class or riding my bike through downtown. If I am affected while doing these everyday activities that I usually think nothing of, I can't imagine what the air quality would do to a marathoner. China may be saying that they are cleaning up their act, but the environment here doesn't seem to be going anywhere but downhill.

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