Jon Markman recently visited Beijing and included some observations of the dark side of the manufacturing boom in his commentary.
It’s not just the smog, which is pervasive, gray and suffocating on an epic scale. It’s not just the weather, which is unseasonably cold and windy. It’s not just the sand, which is blowing in from inner Mongolia in thick, yellow sheets. It’s not just the traffic, which is inert due to the stunning lack of major cross-town freeways. And it’s not just the vibe of the city’s residents and laborers, which is often foul and hostile amid the pollution and crowding.
It’s the sense of alienation and hopelessness that you get from so many of the kind and brilliant people who have grown up there, and who should have the greatest stake in its success.
More than three-quarters of the well-educated people that I spoke with expressed a desire to leave the country, in large part due to fears of the effects that pollution were having on their children.
What happens when the athletes arrive in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics and experience the air pollution?