In Plenty magazine, this feature about the Chinese government's high-tech "weather modification" efforts for this summer’s Beijing Olympics. The big idea: keep the sun shining, through all that smog. Snip:
One thing worth considering when you tamper with nature is what sort of nature you’re tampering with. Nature is not kind to the city of Beijing. China’s capital is arid, nearly a desert, and its natural weather patterns are fickle and harsh. Winter is marked by howling Siberian winds; summer, by sweltering monsoon heat. In lieu of showers, springtime is best known for seasonal dust storms that sweep down from Central Asia. Fall is parched and gusty too, but the dust settles down. This basic brutality is overlaid with levels of pollution like those of England’s Industrial Revolution. Many things blot out the sunshine, and most have nothing to do with rain: factory and power plant emissions, construction dust, smoke from stoves burning scrap wood or pressed coal. There are more than 3 million cars on the streets–and the count is said to be growing by 400,000 vehicles annually. It is not unusual to check the AccuWeather international forecast on the New York Times website and find that while other cities’ weather is “mostly sunny” or “overcast,” Beijing’s is “smoky.” In February 2007, authorities finally abandoned a longstanding policy in which haze was referred to as wu, Mandarin for fog, and just called it what it is–mai, or haze.
Link to article. (Thanks, Choire Sicha, you gorgeous creature, you.)
Image: "Sun through the smog in Beijing," by ~diP.
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