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Probably Not The Sort Of "greening" China Had In Mind...

So how is the Chinese government trying to sweep all that dirt under the rug and spruce up Beijing for the 2008 Olympics? Let's tally up the ways: Power plants are switching from coal to natural gas. The dirtiest factories are relocating or shutting down. New rules will allow car-owners to drive only on alternating days. A shiny new subway line is opening up. Tarps are being placed over the dust on all construction sites. Extensive water-recycling efforts are underway. And, oh yes, there's a billion-dollar mountaintop park being built north of the city to shield against sandstorms. (The government also plans to divert parts of the Yellow River to provide freshwater to the capital, though there seems to be significantly less coverage of those families and farms who are having their water taken away.)

Trouble is, it's not enough to deal with all the manmade pollution. Via Sara Barz, Bloomberg reports that China also has to deal with the threat of locusts coming down from Inner Mongolia; thanks to a cooler-than-average spring, the locusts have been hatching later in the season, and the swarm might hit Beijing just in time for the Games. (It's already some 5,000 square miles large.) China's standing at the ready 33,000 workers, four aircraft, thousands of sprayers, and 200 tons of pesticide. There's also the problem of warmer-than-average weather in the southeast, which has created a terrifyingly neon-colored algae bloom near Qingdao—the city that was, naturally, set to host all the sailing events. Plus who knows what else might arise. If nothing else, it's made for a few fetching photos:


--Bradford Plumer