How to clear the air in the most polluted cities on Earth

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The atmosphere has changed in Beijing since the Chinese capital’s last Olympics in 2008. While the Summer Games 14 years ago were meant to be a forward-looking celebration of China taking its place on the world stage, the 2022 Winter Olympics have a markedly dourer tone, hamstrung by Covid-19 and political controversy.

But one aspect of Beijing’s atmosphere has clearly improved: the air itself. While the 2008 Games were marked by some of the worst air quality in Olympic history, China’s “war against pollution” has advanced so much since that Olympians this month could glimpse the previously smog-enshrouded mountains surrounding the city. Air pollution in the capital has decreased by 50 percent since the 2008 Olympics, which if maintained will lead to four years of additional life for the average Beijing resident.



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