During the economic downturn, we've seen a few environmentally-friendly side effects of all the penny-penching going on. People are focusing more on energy efficiency, they're using their things for longer before tossing them for new versions and now, it seems, China's air is cleaner due to a lack of demand for pollution-causing industries.
China managed to reduce air pollution in Beijing for last summer's Olympics, but since then the air quality has remained improved in the city and the trend is spreading throughout the country. Traffic restrictions and other long-term pollution reduction projectsput in place for the Olympics have continued and the economic crisis has slowed or even stopped production at coal-fired power plants and other polluting manufacturing plants.
The air in Beijing is the cleanest it's been in about a decade and areas around the country are reporting more blue skies. On average across seven of China's largest cities, the number of badly polluted days was halved during the second half of 2008 compared to the first half.
Now that the people of China have had a taste of clean air, let's hope that this will lead to more regulation of emissions and to the development of cleaner technologies so that this fortunate outcome isn't only temporary.