As you can see from the picture below, it’s raining pretty heavily in Beijing. This may seem pretty commonplace but it is significant for a number of reasons.
One is that it has been a very rainy summer indeed by Beijing standards. Obviously that’s a worry for the Opening Ceremony where a rain-out would be a big loss of face. China has a technological solution though, according to national news service Xinhua. We’ll see. I am skeptical of weather modification efforts, particularly trying to stop the rain, which involves seeding clouds approaching Beijing so that they dump their water before getting to the city. Seems to me a sudden wind increase could send have water-laden clouds headed straight for the Birds Nest. Tricky.
Anyway, as my colleague Austin wrote a couple of days ago, it now looks as though the city’s efforts to clean up its air will be successful, at least temporarily. The current rain will help those efforts, clearing the air ahead of Sunday’s scheduled start of the odd-even license plate system. Some Beijingers are looking with considerable excitement to the start of the vehicle reduction period, which will run until the Paralympics are done in late September and should give us a blissful few months of clean air. Others of course are trying to figure out how they are going to get to work on a public transport system that is already bursting at the seams. Beats me how hundreds of thousands of people are going to get onto subway trains and buses that already look like sardine cans at rush hour. We will keep you posted.