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Olympic Emissions

Posted: 3:12PM July 23rd, 2012 | Comments

In 2008, Beijing Olympic organizers ordered the removal of half of all privately owned cars and trucks from the streets.  In an effort to preserve China's image, Beijing drastically cleaned up the streets. 

The world's greatest athletes coughing up a lung doesn't make for good t.v. or attract any tourists. China knew this. By reducing the traffic in this urban center, Beijing served as an example of necessary and effective actions taken to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of global climate change. 

 Just in time for the 2012 games in London, scientists now have a better understanding of the environmental effects this traffic crackdown had on atmospheric quality and total carbon emissions.

Scientists led by Helen. M Worden at the federal government’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, along with the University of Iowa, Tsinghua University in Beijing and the Argonne National Laboratory and Caltech concluded that Beijing's temporary ban significantly reduced emmissions and improved atmospheric quality. Their original discovery however, ( the approximated amount of carbon emission that was taken off the streets during the 08' olympics) came from a computer program which analyzed data from a satellite-based radiometer that had been measuring carbon monoxide on earth's surface for years.

The researchers came up with a wide margin of error, however anywhere in between the two points of 24,000 to 96,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution were removed through this legislative action. 

They weren't just blowing smoke up our greenhouses, this study provided real glimpses of hope for global carbon emission reduction.

Applying these same traffic restrictions to other urban centers around the world could in fact play a major role in helping to mitigate against global warming. If all of the major cities in the world seeked out traffic restricting policies, Worden believes it could drastically improve air quality as well as prevent our planet from the 3.6 degree farenheit increase, which marks the point of no return towards our hot planet. 

Is it sustainable? Is it feasible to cut out half of all private automobile ownership in urban centers?

It will be a challenge that must be met if we hope to keep having olympics every four years.

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