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Chinese air pollution: Getting better?

The pictures and videos from the Beijing Olympic village are appalling. The thick smog and frighteningly short visibilities can only hint at what it must be like to breathe that air - much less compete in it at world-class levels. Four American athletes arriving at the airport with air-filters over their mouths and noses took a lot of heat for the perceived insult to their host country. But it probably wasn't a bad idea.

With the coal-burning Chinese economy on an astonishing roll, and their huge, urbanizing population eager to adopt a U.S.-style motorized existence, it would seem like there is little or nothing we could expect but continuing degradation of the Chinese environment.

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And it's not bad for the Chinese alone. That air pollution degrades the air for the entire entire planet. Much of it can actually be traced as it drifts across the Pacific and into U.S. airspace.

That said, I've run across an essay today that seems to suggest that the situation in China has actually gotten better in recent years. And they write of a dynamic in national economies that seems to bring about environmental improvements as a country's collective wealth grows. Something called the Kuznets Curve.

Wouldn't that be nice?  Have a look.  It's a long read, but fascinating. Does this make sense to you?

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