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Air Quality

Beijing Smog Reduction for Olympics Demands Widespread Sacrifice

china olympics

As the date for the 2008 Games rapidly approaches, Beijing struggles to improve air quality for the “green games.” By closing factories, limiting vehicle use, and halting all construction projects, Chinese authorities are trying to make last-minute improvements that rely on wide-spread compliance. Athletic performance, health, and China’s reputation could suffer if the smog doesn’t clear.

China has implemented a variety of emergency measures to tame the haze, which will have a significant impact on all levels of society. Personal vehicle use is limited from July 20 to September 20. Drivers in Beijing can only drive on alternating days and high emissions vehicles are banned completely. Meanwhile, mass transit is being expanded and work hours staggered to help ease transportation woes.

Businesses have also been significantly affected. Factories across the Beijing region have been closed, some of which are more than 100 kilometers away. Beijing has closed nearly 300 factories. Most construction projects have been halted, including any that involve earth and cement work.

Has the U.S. ever demanded such a high level of compliance from its citizens for a common cause? Americans rationed food, gas, and clothing during World War II. Planes were grounded temporarily after the September 11th attacks. How would Americans respond if asked to close construction projects for two months or keep their cars parked?


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Written By

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.


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