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China's Olympic Pollution Control
January 9, 2009 5:37 PM   Subscribe

New Satellite Data Reveal Impact of Olympic Pollution Controls. [Via James Fallows]
posted by homunculus (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This seems like good news.
posted by Pants! at 6:16 PM on January 9, 2009


Yes We Can!
posted by homunculus at 6:20 PM on January 9, 2009


Maybe in Beijing, but in Chengdou where my daughter was recently she said the pollution levels were very nearly intolerable.
posted by nax at 6:24 PM on January 9, 2009


Nax, at the end of the article it notes that once the Olympics were over and controls were lifted, pollution levels went back up in Beijing, too. It's only when the strict controls are in place that the area sees any benefit.

They also explained that they had to focus only on Beijing itself---and not the surrounding area---to see the benefit, because there was far less impact outside of the tight area of control. So, two issues with considering this option for the long term...
posted by librarylis at 6:38 PM on January 9, 2009


The map looks like there was also some change around Shanghai - like all the Beijing pollution, and then some, moved there.
posted by dilettante at 6:44 PM on January 9, 2009


related: the Vulcan project at Purdue.
posted by eustatic at 6:59 PM on January 9, 2009


If you superimpose the two maps it makes a Wal-Mart logo.
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously, the solution is to have an Olympics continuously in every large city.
posted by dhartung at 8:43 PM on January 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was in Beijing just before the Olympics, and the difference the pollution controls made was pretty striking. There were real sunsets, and you could actually see the sky!
posted by benign at 9:27 PM on January 9, 2009


There's been a bit of to-and-fro about maintaining the traffic control measures introduced for the Games, but the new bourgeoisie must drive around the hutongs in their SUVs so they've gone by the board. Wish more of the massive stimulus package would be directed to public transport and the cycle lanes. Seems nuttily short-termist for me for the government to be promoting the auto industry as a motor (ho ho) of growth and doing their damnedest to wreck a tradition of cycling to work and the shops. Not that I'm saying a lot of families don't aspire to a car as a symbol of getting on, but that image hasn't entirely sprung up without assistance.
posted by Abiezer at 9:28 PM on January 9, 2009


You scientists can't explain away the magic. It was the high spirits and cheer of the occasion that did it. The positive aura of the Olympic spirit purified the air with the dream of peace.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:10 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least one good thing to be said for a world wide depression, then, is that it will take just a little pressure off the collapsing ecosphere in which we are all being poisoned to death.

Because as usual, now that "the economy" is the only issue people care about, the tragic state of the environment doesn't matter to anyone at the moment. Good times.

Bring it on.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:48 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know why anyone is considering the complete crippling of a city to produce less pollution as newsworthy. They shut almost the entire place down for weeks to try and make it tolerable, and it made a slight difference. Unfortunately, they didn't do it in any sustainable way, so they have now reverted the majority of measures.

I'm a little underwhelmed.
posted by Brockles at 6:57 AM on January 10, 2009


You scientists can't explain away the magic. It was the high spirits and cheer of the occasion that did it. The positive aura of the Olympic spirit purified the air with the dream of peace.

Are you sure it wasn't the massive release of libido that did it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2009


I don't know why anyone is considering the complete crippling of a city to produce less pollution as newsworthy.

Well, there was a lot of debate at the time over whether or not the pollution control would be effective. It's nice to finally know to what extent it was, imo.
posted by homunculus at 1:31 PM on January 10, 2009


Well, yeah, but surely 'stopping everything that produces pollution from functioning' is a bit of a pointless exercise, isn't it? Doesn't knowing that without them, pollution doesn't exist not give enough information?

Deliberately and forcibly stalling a city as a PR exercise is so dreadful a concept that lauding it is bad, so as long as we avoid that, I' relatively happy. If we only use this information as a model to how much pollution levels can be affected by relative reductions in pollution by similar (but sustainable) levels, then I guess it has some worth. Now I think about it, there hasn't been a reduction of such a magnitude within a time frame that was so easily measured.

Unless it produces a desire and awareness of the chinese authorities to continue in this direction (and in other cities, as noted) then the whole thing was a pointless PR exercise and it kind of irritates me, if I'm honest.
posted by Brockles at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2009


Well, yeah, but surely 'stopping everything that produces pollution from functioning' is a bit of a pointless exercise, isn't it?

They didn't do that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:05 PM on January 10, 2009


They didn't do that.

I can't get much context from that short sentence, but are you being pedantic? I was paraphrasing. From the lead paragraph of the article: Chinese government regulators had clearer skies and easier breathing in mind in the summer of 2008 when they temporarily shuttered some factories and banished many cars in a pre-Olympic sprint to clean up Beijing’s air..

They shut things down and/or stopped things running. This doesn't make anything cleaner, it's just a pause.
posted by Brockles at 4:52 PM on January 10, 2009


"Some factories" and "many cars" is not the same as "everything that produces pollution." You want to call that being pedantic, go ahead. Then I get to say all of your comments are wild exaggerations, and if you claim they aren't, you're being pedantic.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:42 AM on January 11, 2009


You call stopping 1.6 Million cars and hundreds of factories 'some', do you? They shut an additional 200 factories a few days before the start of the olympics. The city was completely crippled to try and force teh air quality to be somewhere close to 'not dangerous' for the Olympics.

It was a massive effort. Huge, and possibly one only possible in such a government controlled culture as China. It was not, in any slight way, a realistic or sustainable exercise in pollution control.

That was my point. It is a perfectly valid point. You seem to be implying that they just shut a couple of things and that was the end of it. My post, however much it bothers you, is significantly more accurate than your inference. Maybe I should have put 'practically everything that causes pollution' to prevent your ire, but it is still a reasonable summary of the drastic measures that were put in place.
posted by Brockles at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2009


China announces plan to single-handedly destroy the climate: China to increase coal production 30 percent by 2015
posted by homunculus at 10:27 AM on January 11, 2009


You call stopping 1.6 Million cars and hundreds of factories 'some', do you?

Not me - you, quoting the article. I do not "seem to be implying" anything. I am outright stating that your claim that the CCP was 'stopping everything that produces pollution from functioning' was inaccurate. Those are your scare-quotes, too- those words aren't in the article.

Incidentally, my wife was in Beijing before, during, and briefly after the Olympics. The city was not "stalled" (again, not me introducing that word). Taxis were harder to find, so she took buses all of the time. She didn't find it as inconvenient as she expected.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:34 PM on January 11, 2009


A friend of mine was in Beijing too. It was his use of the word 'stalled' that I used. He was there for 10 days afterwards and said it was like the place was waking up once the Olympics stopped. Pollution got worse, incidentally, almost immediately afterwards. It was bad enough that he was considering leaving a few days early, and this is a guy that lives in the middle of London.

If you don't think that the pollution measures in place were drastic, then I suggest you do some reading.
posted by Brockles at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2009


Please stop putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my head. What I wrote is what I meant. None of your ideas about what I think have any relationship to reality.

Your friend visited Beijing. My wife grew up there. I've been there myself a half-dozen times of varied duration. I do not need your lectures on what the place is like.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:46 PM on January 11, 2009


Please stop putting words in my mouth and thoughts in my head.

Errr.... Ok...

That's not at all what I was doing. Whether or not your wife grew up there, apparently (according to you) she was there during and 'briefly' after the Olympics. Therefore she is privy to all the decisions the government made to reduce pollution, and this personal knowledge of these decisions are clearly completely at odds with the announced and reported actions of the Chinese government over that issue.

Ok. I get that...
posted by Brockles at 7:18 PM on January 11, 2009


Therefore she is privy to all the decisions the government made to reduce pollution, and this personal knowledge of these decisions are clearly completely at odds with the announced and reported actions of the Chinese government over that issue

See, that's what I'm talking about. You keep making shit up, then claiming that it's what I'm saying or thinking. It is not. It's just some shit you made up, just like when you made up "stopping everything that produces pollution."

You may have some kind of point, but when you present it with a bunch of made-up shit, you're not making that point.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on January 12, 2009


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