As I've mentioned several times (eg here and here), the air in Beijing has seemed much better in the six months since the Olympics ended than in the incredibly murky six months before. Seasonal difference? Probably. Unusual prevalence of strong, cleansing winds from the northwest? Important too. Residual effect of some Olympic-caused restrictions on pollution sites and traffic? Perhaps.

But the general slowdown in factory and powerplant activity during those same six months has to have played a part. So, is the economy picking up again? View out the window, Guomao area of Beijing looking south, on March 18, 2009, at noon China time, a relatively balmy day:

For a different kind of discussion about when and whether things will turn around for China, I have this story in the current issue of the magazine.