The Engineer's Notebook Blog

The Engineer's Notebook

The Engineer's Notebook is a shared blog for entries that don't fit into a specific CR4 blog. Topics may range from grammar to physics and could be research or or an individual's thoughts - like you'd jot down in a well-used notebook.

Previous in Blog: Photoshop and the Iranian Missile That Wasn't   Next in Blog: America: Big Place, Big People
Close
Close
Close
20 comments

Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

Posted July 31, 2008 12:00 AM by Sharkles

For as long as I can remember, China has been the country with the most people and the worst pollution problems. In recent years, the Chinese government has taken steps towards reducing the amount of pollutants released. Because of the upcoming Olympics, the city of Beijing has even been issued a traffic plan in order to limit air pollution before and during the games.

The Beijing car control plan calls for vehicles with odd-numbered license plates to be driven one day, and even-numbered plates the next. The two-month arrangement is an attempt to have "blue sky days" by the time athletes and visitors come to town. If residents are caught driving on their "off day", they will be fined $14 (which, I've been told, is a harsh penalty).

To prepare for extra commuters, the Chinese government built two new subway lines and an airport rail link. Many residents believe that extra people will be a good test for the subway system, which was previously overcrowded. The extra subway lines and additional buses will help with this test – not only with regular commuters, but with the large number of people in town for the Olympics as well.

Overall Effect
Spokesman Sun Weide of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee claims that the Beijing traffic plan will reduce vehicle emissions by 63%. These emissions are a major contributor to the thick haze that often covers the city's skyline. Changes in air quality are being monitored by Beijing's environmental protection bureau, which has 27 survey stations throughout the city and 18 in Olympic venues.

"The air in the city is good, the density of pollutants has fallen … but it will take at least 20 days for results to be conclusive", says bureau deputy director Du Shaozhong. In addition to the traffic plan, chemical plants, power stations, and foundries were told to cut their emissions by 30%. Dusty construction had to be stopped completely, and heavily polluting vehicles were banned as of July 1st.

Although progress is being made, foreign experts are not convinced that the plan could work. Their fear is that strong, unpredictable winds could blow pollution from other provinces into Beijing. Also, a lack of winds could allow local pollution to build-up, also nixing the "blue sky" effort.

What's Next?
Beijing's traffic solution is only temporary, but it is raising awareness. Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum, explains that "The government has been pushing for cleaner autos and standards, and this is helpful for putting the issue front and center."

I give a lot of props to Beijing for making an effort to cleanup for visitors. Although people are being forced to seek out new ways of traveling, hopefully many commuters will see that they don't have to drive everywhere when other options are available. Awareness is the first step in doing anything, so it will be interesting to see where the Chinese take it from here.

What do you think?

  • Are two-months enough time for Beijing to see blue skies?
  • Do you think the Beijing car ban plan is a good idea?
  • Should it stay in effect after the Olympics are over?

Resources:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25778988/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environment_of_China

http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2008/02/chinas_air_poll.html

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTEAPREGTOPENVIRONMENT/Resources/China_Cost_of_Pollution.pdf

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#1

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 8:55 AM

It is an interesting topic, for sure. I don't think two months will do it. There is just too much pollution already there. But it certainly is a start.

Spending time in China 10 years ago, I can tell you that air pollution was pretty bad. Although Beijing seemed to actually be better than a lot of other places I was in, like Nanjing, Shanghai, and Wuhan.

I am just impressed that the government is taking steps to make it better. I hope they stick with it after the global scrutiny of the Olympics has passed and that it's not a world P.R. ploy.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tech Valley, NY
Posts: 4366
Good Answers: 15
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 9:16 AM

I hope they stick with it after the global scrutiny of the Olympics has passed and that it's not a world P.R. ploy

I agree. Unfortunately, this the major criticism of the plan. A lot of reports that I've read are predicting that Chinese are just putting on a show for the rest of the world, but will immediately go back to their polluting ways.

The positive aspect of these reports point out that by hosting the Olympics, the Chinese are exposing their pollution problems to the rest of the world - who may, in return, put some more pressure on the country to cleanup their act.

__________________
Sharkles
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 9:23 AM

That is true...

But the sad part is that China has never really seemed to care about political pressure as much as it has about economic pressure (from the corporate level).

Hopefully some green companies take that into consideration when the broker future deals.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#4
In reply to #3

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 11:49 AM

As much as I want to believe in the Chinese and that their actions are for the good of the world and not for public relations, I can't. They have spent too much time making the pollution to go back now and all of the sudden they are a 'changed country' or 'a green country'. Puh-lease.

They probably don't know how nice it is to have blue skies - so why should they aim for it? Look at how long it took them to get lead out of their products - oh wait...they didn't... They blatantly don't care. The only reason they are doing this is for public relations. Period.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tech Valley, NY
Posts: 4366
Good Answers: 15
#5
In reply to #4

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 11:55 AM

I think that in the back of my mind I know you're right, but I can't but hold some hope that they're ready to make a change...

But, I've been wrong before (once or twice)

__________________
Sharkles
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#6
In reply to #4

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 11:57 AM

I can sense anger in this one...

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#7
In reply to #6

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 12:00 PM

It isn't so much anger as my point of view - said in my sarcastic words.

They haven't seemed to have had the initiative to change before, why now? All signs point to the Olympics!

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Technical Fields - Education - Seasoned Vet in the Classroom United States - Member -

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 762
Good Answers: 19
#8
In reply to #7

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 12:06 PM

I jest, but you are right. China's record on national policies regarding the environment has been mostly horrible. I can not-so-fondly remember the intentional flooding of the Yellow River in 1997, effectively flooding the Three Gorges and destroying invaluable archaeological relics in the name of building a MASSIVE hydroelectric power damn.

It would be nice to believe that this new attention from the global community has inspired change, but it might be the same as being nice to your kids only as long as the neighbors are over for dinner.

__________________
StE - "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer/Hoist with his own petard" -Hamlet Act III, scene 4, 202–209
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - DataRock 1.0

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 401
Good Answers: 3
#9

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 4:38 PM

The car ban makes sense, and maybe some factories will need to close for a while during the Olympics.

The air in Chongqing was horrible, grey skies from pollution all the time, hiding the sun, in spring '05 while I was there.

Even far away from the coast, deep into Sichuan, folks have taken strongly to driving cars (lots of GM's on the road), very few on bikes. My Nixon-in-China perception of bike riding China was shattered by seeing all the folks in cars.

The newly-paved Shanghai highway is populated with many SUV's, just like our roads here in the northeast. It was obvious from all the nice, late-model SUV's that China is doing well these days.

On the bright side, within the past year, I met Chinese wind-power engineers visiting Schenectady, and they are committed to a cleaner future for China. But not in time for the Olympics.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

07/31/2008 9:14 PM

Wind power is just the tip of the ice berg. Plus - that is just a source of renewable energy, so it may just be in THEIR best interest and not the worlds. Not trying to clash heads, but they seem to only be in it for themselves.

Reply
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - DataRock 1.0

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 401
Good Answers: 3
#12
In reply to #10

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/01/2008 7:38 AM

Hi Jaxy - Heard a report last night on the UK's carbon emissions: If you factor into the equation all the carbon emissions in China tied to consumption in Great Britain, the UK's track record isn't so great after all. Same holds for the US. My purchases of Chinese-made goods at Walmart (yes, I do shop there - it's hard not to these days) contribute to carbon emissions (grey skies) over Beijing, while keeping the air in Saratoga County nice and clean. We're all in this together, and global consumers in the West, through their purchasing choices, hold much of the responsibility of what's happening over the skies of China. - april05

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member China - Member - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: CHINA
Posts: 2946
Good Answers: 14
#11

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/01/2008 3:41 AM

Olympic games is being to open, so more and more people concern bejing and its air state I dont thnk what the gpod air quality in the city is.

the car ban meaurement is obviously temporary. its impossible to implement forever in bejing. because there are too populaton in beijing as well as other big cities. but govener seems to wish to keep the situation on, in order that beijing can compare with other big city in the woild.

We have more and more frequcecy to hear the news about the air quality on tv program. we dont know what is good quality for a city?

we may get use to the situation. and dont know how good is the foreign city in the world?

you all visited china, how is different comparing with your city?

I was told that some of cities in europe are not as good as chinese cities at air quality.

Reply
Anonymous Poster
#13

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/01/2008 7:43 AM

It means that Chinese are more bothered about visitors than their own people. Once Olympics is over every thing will same as it was, locals will have to live in polluted city. There should have been some permanent measures so as to give clean envoirment not only for visitors but also for local people.It may be difficult but not impossible. Here are my few suggestions:-

1.Shift polluting industries away from the city.

2.Such industry should be forced to install antipollution equipment.

3.All public transport vehicles such as buses,taxis etc should be converted to run on CNG.

4.Like Singapore there should be limits for adding new vehicles in city.

5.People should be encouraged to ride bicycles for short runs as they used to do earlier, there should be seperate lanes for them.

And many more suggestions others can contribute who are experts in this subject.

Suresh Sharma

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member China - Member - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: CHINA
Posts: 2946
Good Answers: 14
#15
In reply to #13

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/01/2008 7:15 PM

All measures have benn done by china. and goverment try to change cities in china from produce function to consumpton type.

all hve been completed in beijing in the past years for that lovely games. mills has been shifted out of the city, vehicles have been forced to drive by single and doulb number in other day, extend plant area. but these area will be built a block of building after games. so the green plant will be dissapear after games.

However I dont think its a good measure for enterpises and factory shift out of city. as you know, if the enterprise is located in city or suburb, it has an enough financial to improve tech and monitored by people, but when they are shifted out in rural. no peple can monitor them, they will pay no attation to tech improvement and will make more pullution. and goverment and media will ingnore these pollution.

Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - Cardio-7

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 621
Good Answers: 10
#14

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/01/2008 11:35 AM

Interesting. I can tell you this much: One was recently able to stand in Seoul and see the clouds of vapors and fumes blow in from China. I believe it will take a lot longer than 2 months to clean up the air. Don't forget, great pressure from the central government is being put on "temporary" clean-up, as far as shutting down some steel mills, factories etc, as well as vehicular density. But that still leaves immense pollution problems. I just returned from 3 weeks in the Philippines and Hong Kong. One obvious result across much of Asia is that increased fuel prices, especially diesel, is reducing traffic in places that were quagmires of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Let's review the pollution problem in China in 6 months and see where they stand.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member China - Member - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: CHINA
Posts: 2946
Good Answers: 14
#16

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/03/2008 9:16 PM

All condition in Beijing is better more than other cities in China. It spends too much already. goverment needs spend more to other cities for their enviroment and foundation construcgtion.

Olympic games is only a game, only for entertainment. it just play a while, most of people cnnt live by this games. they need to constuct their good live by hard work.

In fact, the aim of some people comment on the enviroment in beijing recently is not for real atmosphier but for Politics.

Look at this fact, the presidents of america and other countries like europe, russia, etc. came again and again to visit china and live in beijing.

More and more artists and musicians etc come to beijing for performance. Needliss to say famous scientists. all of them are all more noble than most of athlites.

I hvnt seen them appear with respirators. haha.

what is more. most of athletes come to beijing for their international match for many times. who can see their wearing respirator play in the match field?

Is this olympic games very special? I dont think so.

Reply
Participant

Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 3
#17

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/03/2008 11:14 PM

Government's political show!!!

I am against the Olympics, he should affect the lives of many, including me. . Olympic Games only to the Government Lianshangtiejin only.


In China, everything is possible, should be - officials as the foundation of society!

Reply
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - DataRock 1.0

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 401
Good Answers: 3
#18

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/04/2008 8:29 AM

All - A quality TV documentary, on the topic of China's environment, aired this past weekend on my local affiliate of the US Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS): "China: From the Inside", http://www.pbs.org/kqed/chinainside/. Definitely worth your time to watch if you have the time, to give your China viewing during the Olympics a little added depth. -april05

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Western NC
Posts: 92
Good Answers: 3
#19

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/04/2008 9:59 AM

If they start taking pollution seriously, there goes the cheap products that is exported. It will drive the costs up and then some companies will reopen their factories in their home countries as it will no longer be cheaper to have it made there. As much as I'd like to see the "world" cleaned up, I don't think it would be permanent there as I too believe it's a show for the world and will go back to as before.

Reply
Power-User
Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - DataRock 1.0

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 401
Good Answers: 3
#20

Re: Who’s Driving? In China, It Depends on the Day

08/05/2008 7:37 AM

Saw an update last night, on the PBS's Newshour program, that said the bulk of the "perma"-pollution that hangs over Beijing isn't sourced from the city itself, but comes from a busy industrial region far to the south, and is pushed north by prevailing winds. University of Rhode Island atmospheric chemist Kenneth Rahn was interviewed, and gave his opinion. With this in mind, it begs the question as to whether regions south of Beijing have also taken measures to reduce their emissions? - april05

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 20 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (1); april05 (4); Cardio07 (1); cnpower (3); Jaxy (3); rickmoore69 (1); ShakespeareTheEngineer (4); Sharkles (2); siliconenipple (1)

Previous in Blog: Photoshop and the Iranian Missile That Wasn't   Next in Blog: America: Big Place, Big People

Advertisement