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August 7, 2008

Chinese air pollution: Getting better?

AP PhotoThe pictures and videos from the Beijing Olympic village are appalling. The thick smog and frighteningly short visibilities can only hint at what it must be like to breathe that air - much less compete in it at world-class levels. Four American athletes arriving at the airport with air-filters over their mouths and noses took a lot of heat for the perceived insult to their host country. But it probably wasn't a bad idea.

The Weather Channel website has an interesting page on Olympic weather and air conditions.

With the coal-burning Chinese economy on an astonishing roll, and their huge, urbanizing population eager to adopt a U.S.-style motorized existence, it would seem like there is little or nothing we could expect but continuing degradation of the Chinese environment.

And it's not bad for the Chinese alone. That air pollution degrades the air for the entire entire planet. Much of it can actually be traced as it drifts across the Pacific and into U.S. airspace.

That said, I've run across an essay today that seems to suggest that the situation in China has actually gotten better in recent years. And they write of a dynamic in national economies that seems to bring about environmental improvements as a country's collective wealth grows. Something called the Kuznets Curve.

Wouldn't that be nice?  Have a look.  It's a long read, but fascinating. Does this make sense to you?

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Air quality
        

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff
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