Wednesday, August 09, 2006

China Struggles with Air Quality Issues

In only two years the world will converge on Beijing for the Summer Olympics. In the meantime, Chinese officials are doing their level best to improve air quality. It's an uphill fight. From the LA Times:

By the government's own admission, much of China's environmental problems come from the pace and scale of the country's relentless economic growth. The Olympics itself has contributed to a massive building boom. Beijing has more than 9,000 construction sites, including 12 competition venues, four subway lines, and a new airport -- not to mention countless hotels and other real estate developments hoping to cash in on the Olympic fever.

Unfortunately, coal remains China's main source of energy, and the chief contributor to the 25 million tons of sulfur dioxide China emitted in 2005 -- a 27 percent jump from 2000, according to government figures. The toxic gas, a major cause of breathing problems and acid rain, cost the country $60 billion in damage to buildings, crops, vegetation and human health, according to Chinese environmental officials, who announced the figures last week.
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