Bejing's Clean-Air Blitz Falls Short

Independent readings, photos show smog persists despite pre-Olympic crackdown
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2008 1:49 PM CDT
Smoggy Beijing skies are a backdrop as performers head to a July 30 rehearsal for the Olympic opening ceremonies.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Chinese government’s goal of dispersing the thick smog around Beijing is not working, Wired reports after analyzing independent data. Efforts including factory shutdowns, car bans, and cloud seeding have not improved air quality, with pollution levels still far above the World Health Organization’s standards on most days. Heavy rain has been the only factor that truly diminishes particulate matter, scientists say.

Since anti-smog efforts went into effect last month, air pollution has dropped significantly only once—following heavy rainfall. Officials continue to insist the world will see a “blue-sky” Olympics, denying that environmental sensor readings and photographic evidence are clear indicators of air quality: “This kind of weather is a natural phenomenon,” claims one Beijing official.