The World Bank recently reported that of 20 world cities with the worst air pollution, 16 are in China. It is said that Beijing is determined to clean up its air before hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, but they had better start soon. During our two separate passes through Beijing, the air was heavy with the haze of air pollution.

Cars left on city streets were soon covered with a thick layer of soot. By the end of each day, I was peering through a layer of tiny black particles on my glasses. Walking a street in Hefei in Central China, I was often left in a cloud of diesel fumes from passing buses.

Air pollution is so bad that the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning estimates that 380,000 Chinese per year may die prematurely by 2010. Still, while we may better control and capture our pollution, I was still conscious of this thought from James Kynge’s book, “China Shakes the World”: “In 2001, Americans were using more than 11 times more oil per person than the Chinese. Indeed, if the Chinese were ever to consume at the American levels of 2001, they would need three times the world’s total (oil and gas) annual consumption.”

Interviews on the Web

Lonnie Anderson, a student at Lewiston-Auburn College, talks about her trip to China.

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