Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 17, 2008
What more important in China right now than business? Ensuring that the Olympics go as smoothly as possible. Already under fire from the international community about Tibet and Darfur, China doesn’t want any more adverse publicity to affect the games in the form of pesky pollution. In an effort to fulfill their promise of good air quality in the capital of Beijing, the government is about to embark on some pretty drastic measures.
A two-month plan of combating pollution beginning July 20 will hopefully yield clear skies by the August 8 Olympic start date. According to Du Xiaozhong, deputy director of the city’s environmental protection bureau, 19 heavily polluting plants would be shut down, construction sites involved in excavation or cement work will stop working and one-half of the city’s three million cars will be removed from the roads. Adding up to a serious halt in production.
Should these contingency measures fail to work due to “adverse weather conditions” — a reference to a “weather pattern known as ‘inversion’ [which] can trap pollution over Beijing during the summer months” — Du said plan B will be implemented and more factories will close.
Many of the 10,000 athletes who’ll compete in this summer’s Olympics are concerned for their health. “The International Olympic Committee itself indicated ‘some risk’ for athletes competing in outdoor endurance events that required more than an hour of continuous physical effort at high level. Examples included urban road cycling, mountain biking, marathon running, marathon swimming, triathlon and road walking”.
Let’s hope more comes out of this than just clean air for the Olympics. Let’s hope it inspires some permanent changes for the better.