Rain can help to disperse smog, but as atmospheric scientist Ken Rahn, a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University's Air Pollution and Control Institute in Beijing, recently told me, the only real way to fight China's pollution is with serious comprehensive emissions standards, cleaner factories, and a cleaning-up, or a phasing out, of coal. It's a solution that will take much longer to effect than the city's "advanced techniques." But given the chances that rainmaking actually works, and the possibility that it can decrease badly needed rain elsewhere (and not to mention the energy it takes to try it), the long-term solutions offer a more favorable forecast.As for his own Olympic forecast, Rahn told me, “If you forced me to take a guess, I would say they won’t meet the [WHO pollution] standard." For its part, the International Olympic Committee remains cheery as ever: "Beijing's bid book contained some 130 commitments so far as the environment is concerned. I must say the Chinese have totally lived up to all the commitments they have made," said IOC inspector Hein Verbruggen this week. Two days later, no less than Premier Wen Jiabao announced he would be heading up a new task force on the environment, admitting a "grave need" to cut pollution. Shooting up the clouds won't work anyway, according to Rahn. "Absurd--it never works," he told me. Maybe that's why, as China Daily reports, the deputy chief engineer of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau is resorting to another unlikely technique in secular China: "God bless Beijing," he said.
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