Digital Dave's Ruminations

This is the place...

...where Digital Dave occasionally shares his thoughts on China, Photography, and other various and random subject-matter.

My three most recent posts will always appear on this page (unless you've arrived here via a direct link to a specific article). Use the archive links on the right sidebar to access previous posts. Most images on this blog can be clicked-on to view them in a larger size.

Monday, October 8, 2007

It’s gotta be the construction…

I don’t recall the air-quality ever being worse than it is right now in China. Not just in the interior provinces, where the air is largely expected to be awful, but in Beijing, which seemed to be improving dramatically over the past several years. The Chinese have been on a mission to clean up Beijing in time for the 2008 Olympic games, and that purportedly included the environment in addition to the wholesale renovation and refurbishment of the physical city. Maybe the Chinese figured out that by regressing in the air pollution department, their Olympic athletes would be at a distinct advantage next year in the sense that no foreign athletes that haven’t been training in these conditions could possibly compete in any Olympic events that require even a modicum of physical exertion and endurance.

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I thought that all of the renovations of Beijing’s infrastructure would be mostly complete by now, but it seems the Chinese are still going full-throttle, as many new demolition and construction projects are just now getting underway. One would question their ability to be done with everything by next summer, but then one realizes that construction sites in China are 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week affairs (peace & quiet is way down at the bottom of the list of Chinese institutions). Trust me, they will finish.

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But, in the meantime, the hundreds of construction projects in progress around town are spewing some seriously noxious pollutants into Beijing’s already challenged air. I don’t know what brand of solvents and adhesives the Chinese are using in their new buildings, but you can smell them a mile away. Anything that you can smell from a mile away generally can’t be good for you, right? All the pedestrians and cyclists who cough up their lungs as they pass the construction sites pretty much answer that question. I’ve never seen locals wheezing and hacking like that before.

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Combine the construction chemicals with all the other particulate matter cast into the air from all the gravel, concrete, steel, brick and soil being stirred up by towering cranes and heavy machinery and you’ve got a hell of a recipe for un-breathable air. All in the name of progress.

You get what you pay for.

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More pics like these in my China 2007: Urban Beijing gallery.