Beijing Air Could Be “Smog-tastic” For Olympics

The opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics is three days away, which means the Chinese government has less than 72 hours to fix the smog situation in a country plagued by chronic air pollution. According to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, the smog-control efforts are moving right along and everybody will be able to enjoy a “blue-sky” Olympics.

China could be smoggy for Olympics

The thing is, those sentiments are more pipe dream than reality, at least according to the BBC, whose Beijing bureau set up air pollution sensors that tell a different story than the one reported by the government.

On most days, Beijing’s air clearly remains poor, rarely dropping below 50 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air. The World Health Organization considers any concentration of particulate higher than 50 to be unhealthy. While the BBC sensor has a large margin of error (20 percent), on most days the readings have been far above the threshold. The pollution levels have been clearly reflected in daily photographs taken from the same location by the news agency’s reporters.

Earlier this summer the Chinese government introduced ambitious initiatives to mitigate the smog, but the results have been mixed. Further complicating matters are allegations that officials has been fudging the numbers. One way or the other, we’ll know more in a few days. If athletes start passing out while competing, it’s probably a good sign the air quality is more likely “wheezerific” than “good.”

If there’s hope that this all works out, it’s that the government has apparently perfected their Make It Rain machine. And if they can dictate the weather, then certainly they can solve the pollution problem.