The blue sky in the background of this photo was a rare site in Beijing. We were lucky to see it and the next day the pollution returned to normal oppressive levels. What I mistakenly thought was morning fog for a few moments, when I first arrived, was instead a gray smog that envelopes the city usually every day.
It’s tough not to be cynical on Earth Day after seeing that level of pollution and reading that Beijing is on track to become the top carbon emitter. While Oprah teaches her audience how to be green, eco-socialites throw parties, and Cheryl Crow urges us to spare a square, the “latest data shows China is building a coal-fired power plant every four days.” The IOC’s confidence in China’s ability to clean up the air for the Olympics is laughable. I was having problems just riding a folding bike around and expect that Olympic performance scientists will focus on breakthrough exercise-induced asthma drugs in Beijing.
Of course, Bike Hugger will do our part to promote cycling and bike culture (May is National Bike Month), but with a new realization and appreciation of how perilous global warming is. China has promised to focus on pollution and the poor. We can only hope that’s true.