Beijing to clear Olympic skies with cloud-seeding

Pollution over Beijing could be dispersed by firing chemicals into the sky to ensure sunshine for the Olympics, the city's head meteorologist has said.

Pollution and dust clouds could be dispersed using the "cloud seeding" technique already commonly used in China to make rain, Mian Donglian, who heads the Beijing municipal bureau, told Beijing's Time Out magazine.

"We can turn a cloudy day into a dry and sunny one by shooting the clouds less intensively than when we make rain," he said. Firing chemicals such as silver iodide or dry ice pellets into the sky creates nuclei on which cloud droplets can condense. The technique has already been used to clear cloudy skies, made worse by pollution.

China is promoting the 2008 Olympics as the "green games," with renewable-powered developments, waste-to-energy incineration plants, recycling and dangerous waste disposal infrastructure among plans announced by Tian Maijiu, deputy director of the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

"Once completed, these projects will surely give a push to Beijing's plan to build a circular economy," he said.

Wind power is expected to generate 20% of electricity for the Olympic venues, 80% of street lamps are to be solar-powered and 90% of heat for bathing water is to come from the sun.

But making Beijiing 2008 the "green games" will be a challenge given the current levels of pollution in the city. This week, the Chinese government admitted that pollution is getting worse in China in a report published to coincide with World Environment Day on Monday. The State Environmental Protection Administration said that 60% of Chinese territory is ecologically fragile and 90% of its grasslands are threatened with degradation and desertification.

Details of Beijing's Action Plan for the Green Olympics can be found Beijing 2008 website.

Goska Romanowicz



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