Pollution Threatens Olympic Athletes

Pollution threatens to mar the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, a city which periodically disappears into a brownish-yellow haze due to dust blowing in an area containing few natural elements such as mountains or large bodies of water. China has promised a “Green Olympics,” but most experts believe, at best, it will be more of a grayish hue of smog and pollution.

China is experiencing a tremendous economic expansion causing factories and coal power plants to spew out emissions more akin to the early years of the nineteenth century than to 2007. The Shanghai Star estimates pollution each year is partially responsible for the deaths of 50,000 newborns.

As China’s wild charge into economic success moves along, the world will have to confront what happens when 200 million Chinese citizens purchase cars. At present, China accounts for 14% of world gas emissions, but this figure will dramatically rise in the years ahead. The Chinese government promises to spend billions to clean up Beijing’s air, but dust particles come from neighboring cities, not the capital. We can expect some unusual occurrences as athletes chug their way through smog and dust.