Beijing to Plant Rooftop "Green Belts"

So much is happening so fast in China, and with Beijing tapped to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, air quality is a specific current concern. But since the city's downtown area is already too crowded to add more "green belts," or urban areas set aside for planting trees and shrubs, officials are looking upward to achieve their goals.

Rooftop green belts, could potentially be seen on 30 percent of the city's high rises and 60 percent of its lower buildings by the time the games come around...Ten thousand square meters of rooftop lawns were planted in 2004 and the government plans to up that number to 100,000 square meters this year. The vegetation of choice is evergreen grass, which proves resilient against and Beijing's high temperatures and typic dry weather.

The city's gardening and clean air campaign will hopefully also include relocating 200 factories with major pollution issues as well as restricting office buildings, apartments, hotels, and shopping malls in the metropolitan centre.

Though China has claimed that Beijing has already accomplished difficult goals, critics wonder if the country is setting the bar for air quality too low. Whatever happens, Beijing's growth will certainly be scrutinized as the Olympics approach—as the old adage says, with great power comes great responsibility. Let's hope China—its sights set on making a huge international debut at the next Olympics as it enters a new industrial age—will rise to the challenge. The fate of the world may depend on it. ::Planet Ark [by MO]

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