Friday, August 8, 2008


You can be sure the Olympics are going on when ABC News Radio starts reporting the time in Beijing along with all the time zones that are more conventionally thought to form part of Australia.

There's been a lot of talk about the air quality in Beijing. In general my opinion on this has been that the Chinese have been getting a rough ride in comparison to cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City and Athens that have held the Olympics and have terrible smog problems.

So I went looking for data that I could compare across the different Olympic cities. I was appalled to discover that the Chinese government is not monitoring carbon monoxide or ozone levels. (Or at least not releasing monitoring that it may be doing.) This makes it difficult to say very much.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) are making measurements but I haven't been able to find the actual numbers online as yet. Interestingly they are often finding pollution levels 30% in excess of the officially reported values.

There is a good description of the games being played with reporting pollution levels here.

The Chinese are reporting an index that measures the level of particulates, which is currently about twice WHO recommended levels but just below the level that the Chinese promised to achieve when awarded the games. This is being tracked daily here.

Zhang Yimou's films are great so I am looking forward to the opening ceremony smog or no smog.

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