The Recycling Bin: A Roundup of Green News, Olympic Edition

Reports of smog, ecofriendly fireworks, playing God with the weather, and more from Beijing.

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As we prepare to cheer on Team America beginning Friday, here's a collection of green news about the Olympic Games.

Concerned about air pollution, the U.S. cycling team wore masks upon arrival in the Beijing airport, which the medical officer for the Olympics deemed unnecessary. "The misty air is not a feature of pollution but a feature of evaporation and humidity," said Arne Ljungqvist, medical commission chief for the International Olympic Committee. A spokeswoman for the U.S. cyclists denied that they wore the masks to make a statement.

But one man's "misty air" is another man's smog, and the IOC remains on alert about the cloud that has blanketed the city. Workers at the Olympics have sought treatment for itchy, burning eyes. An athlete's guide to dealing with pollution can be found here.

The fireworks for the opening ceremony are designed to cause less pollution. Here's a link to a YouTube sneak peek of the fireworks rehearsal.

The Chinese government, fearing rain on its parade, has two methods to control the weather for the opening ceremonies. The first involves firing a seeding agent into clouds with an antiaircraft missile, which would cause the rain to fall before it reaches the city. The second method is to fire a coolant into the cloud, decreasing the size of droplets and making them less likely to fall.

Greenpeace gave Beijing a report card, assessing how well it lives up to its green promises. Among Beijing's achievements: adding additional public transportation, increasing vehicle emissions standards, and purchasing 20 percent of the games' energy from clean sources. Beijing's failures: developing more landfills to deal with Olympic waste, making only quick fixes for the air quality problem, and a lack of transparency.

Beijing is rationing the amount of time vehicles can be on the road. Based on license plate numbers, cars can be on the road only on alternating days, and anyone caught driving on the wrong day will pay a $14 fine. The measure is expected to lighten congestion by 45 percent.

For a photo gallery of the greenest Olympians worldwide, go to Grist. Rower Tom Paradiso brings reusable grocery bags to the store, while Yao Ming is a spokesperson for animal conservation. Many Olympians have pledged support to GreenLaces, an organization that unifies athletes in being green.


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