Despite Government Efforts, Smog Hovers Over Beijing On First Olympic Day

beijing olympics smog opening ceremonies

On Beijing's biggest day in recent history -- and arguably its most documented -- the city was plagued by another blanket of smog just hours before the opening ceremonies. Years of preparation, a ban on half the city's cars and an order to close down nearby factories -- not to mention experiments with cloud seeding, to control rain -- could not prevent the fine particles from settling in to the air yesterday and today. By evening, the skies seemed to have cleared in time for the big event, which featured impressive city-wide fireworks and fortunately, no athletes wearing masks.

The government and the IOC have been working hard to fix the smog problem--largely by pretending it doesn't exist. And there are still suspicions over pollution monitoring and over how accurate are the statistics for smog.

Today was a pretty lousy day from where I could see, but it's the local environmental bureau that determines a "blue sky day," or a day with 100 micrograms / m3. But there's something suspicious about today: the official data, located on this government website. The pollutant measures place the API just shy of 100 across the board. Makes you wonder what kind of pressure the environmental protection bureau -- and ultimately the environment -- is under these Olympic days.

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