However, a number of less attractive features await those traveling to
China. For one, DailyTech chronicled how China plans to snoop
on the internet use of its guests and plans to follow a similar
site-blocking policy in its press internet areas as it does with its own
national internet networks. However, perhaps the greatest concern to
athletes and fans attending the games alike is China's monumental pollution
China leads the world as the largest
carbon polluter. However, it’s the other types of pollution that make
up the thick Chinese smog that have health experts concerned. Among them
is the emission of nitrogen dioxide, which China leads the world in, according
to satellite photos taken by the European Space Agency in 2005. NO2
is a toxic gas that causes a variety of respiratory problems, even at low
levels of inhalation.
As weather plays a major role in the drifting clouds of smog which circulate
around China eventually
making their way to the U.S. or elsewhere, China hopes to synthetically
control the weather with antiaircraft
guns and rocket launchers to prevent rain. Now China has revealed an
even more dramatic, though less strange, plan to try to protect the games
against pollution in case of stagnant air.
Stagnant air is the biggest threat to the games as it traps the smog over urban
areas. The many photos of Beijing, where the games will be held showing
thick smog are taken under such conditions. This contrasts with the clean
blue skied look when air is circulating at a faster pace, bringing in clean air
to mix with the polluted air.
A key factor to alerting to such conditions is accurate prediction. If
such stagnant conditions are predicted to occur within 48 hours, under the new
plan China will halt all construction projects nationwide and further reduce
the number of vehicles on the streets. China hopes these efforts will
produce a temporary reduction in air pollution that will prevent the Summer
Games from becoming the "Smog Games". The Chinese Environmental
Ministry formulated the new plan with the help of the cities of Beijing and
Tianjin and Hebei province. It was announced last Thursday at a press
Still, some fear the efforts won't be enough. Lo Szeping of Greenpeace
states, "Beijing's air quality is probably not yet up to what the world
will be expecting from an Olympic hosting city."
While some may not trust the advice of Greenpeace, many prestigious doctors
have warned that high levels of pollution will hurt athletes'
performance. They say endurance sports like distance running will be hit
especially hard. This is due to the fact that endurance athletes breathe
in far more air -- for example marathoners breathe 10 times as much air in a
given period as a normal person.
Malcolm Green of the British Lung Foundation says there can also be significant
health risks, aside from poor performance and visibility. He states,
"Pollution goes down into the lungs. It can cause inflammation, it can
cause people who have asthma to get asthma episodes, and so, generally, it is
not very helpful to athletes."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is warning that the brew of nitrogen
dioxide and other chemicals in China's air may cause eye, nose, and throat
irritation, and may cause impaired lung function and increased respiratory
Some athletes have refused to compete on the world's largest stage due to the
risks to their health. Haile Gebrselassie, a world-record holding
Ethiopian distance runner and heavy favorite chose not to attend the
games. He suffers from asthma and is fearful that the pollution could
have a dire impact on his health.
Other athletes are coming but looking for ways to protect themselves against
the pollution. Many are considering wearing masks. Jarrod
Shoemaker, a U.S. triathlete, has taken to wearing a mask in training to
prepare for this. He states, "This past year, I wore a mask all the
way up to the race and after the race to see if it would work, and I felt
perfectly normal, perfectly fine. So I definitely think it worked and
that's my plan again for this year."
Ultimately that may become the reality athletes are faced with as China efforts
seem to have little immediate impact. In a move labeled by some as
draconian, the Chinese shut down temporarily a number of factories, and
construction sites last week. It also effectively cut the number of cars
on Beijing streets by half -- only allowing odd-numbered license plates one day
and even number ones the next. Unfortunately, the efforts showed no
immediate impact on air pollution levels, as China's much of China's yearly
output still hangs in the sky.
In fact, due to atmospheric conditions, this week air quality in Beijing
dramatically worsened. The city was blanket in thick smog, which choked
citizens and visitors and blocked out sunlight. Rain helped to clear the
smog early this week, and meteorologists are hopeful that the weather patterns
may clear much of the smog in time for the opening ceremony on August 8.
While the emergency plan will not close all factories, it will call for 105
factories in Beijing and more than 106 others outside the city, to additionally
be closed. Also, only license plates with a number ending in the same
number as the ending number of the day of the month would be allowed.
This would effectively cut traffic by a factor of ten. The odd/even
driving day plan would also be put in effect in the city of Tianjin and the
province of Hebei.
Some argue that the efforts are not enough. Others argue that the efforts
are too punitive and that no environmental concerns should stand in the way of
free business operation. Chinese officials, though, believe the plan is
just right and remain optimistic that their efforts will be enough to curb
pollution at the games. Says Du Shaozhong of China's Environment
Protection Bureau, "We are still optimistic that during the Olympics we
can reduce pollution well below our target thresholds."
quote: I guess liberals don't realize what the root word of conservative is; conserve.
quote: Like, President Bush's Budget Deficit reaching record highs, when there was a budget surplus before he took office. Sounds real conservative to me.
quote: I could also use over-generalizations and sweeping statements, that demonize the individuals that oppose my own personal views, and implying that they are only what their political party tells them to be. Most of these implications being totally false. For Example: "You Republicans only care about the rich, making the rich even more rich, even at the cost of human life, as long as most of those losses aren't from rich families."Well, I'll be darned, that makes republicans sound pretty evil doesn't it? The fact that it isn't true for the vast majority of republicans(99.999%) doesn't really matter, they've been all grouped together with the worst stereotypes there are about the republican party, effectively making it sound almost evil to BE a republican.
quote: I could also talk about a bunch of my opinions, passing them off as facts, to further my point.The reason for this rant? I am voting democrat, but not because I embrace all of the party's beliefs, but because I agree with the stance of the democratic party on more things than I do the republican party. But, it's not by a wide margin. I lost a great deal of respect for the Nobel Peace Prize when it was awarded to Gore. He's just a sensationalist crackpot. I don't agree that we should be pulling troops out of Iraq asap, we should make sure the situation will remain stable there without our help. I can't agree with legal abortion. There are many other things on which I agree with the general republican viewpoint.My point? Please don't make any far reaching generalizations about anyone of a particular group, because a group is made up of individuals, many of whom are fully capable of thinking for themselves, and almost none of these individuals fit the description of that group completely.
quote: ...I am young enough to be taken in by the idea of sweeping changes in Washington...
quote: Liberals are just as guilty.
quote: Both parties have failed this country.
quote: the US has slowed tremendously in staying ahead of the rest of the world.
quote: The decline in US manufacturing that began in the 1960s didn't accelerate once NAFTA passed.
quote: the difference in wages between US and most other nations has actually declined sharply in the last 50 years
quote: President Bush's Budget Deficit reaching record highs, when there was a budget surplus before he took office
quote: The Democrat party has been hijacked by far left liberals while the Republican party has been or is at least in the process of being hijacked by neo-cons
quote: the two major parties are in dire need of a shakedown and a reality check
quote: p.s. for clarification... you may want to look up what the con in neo-con stands for before you go trying to say neo-cons are not conservatives.
quote: The majority of the deficit is due to socialist entitlement programs. Look it up sometime; the federal budget is publicly available. You will see defense spending accounts for only 20% of the budget.
quote: I guess some conservatives don't understand what the root word of conservative is; conserve. Like, President Bush's Budget Deficit reaching record highs, when there was a budget surplus before he took office. Sounds real conservative to me.