For the last week, Beijing's skies have been, mostly, glorious. I went for a long run this afternoon, and got sunburned while doing so, a risk I had not previously feared.

Out the window today

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_5089.jpg

Same window two weeks ago (and much of the preceding six months)

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/jfallows/IMG_4802.jpg

All credit to whoever and whatever made this happen, from the Chinese scientists I quoted a few months ago saying that it would play out more or less the way it did; to the Chinese officials implementing the factory- and traffic- shutdown plans; to the American scientist who accurately predicted that the wind would shift to the proper, cleansing direction two or three days into the Games; to whatever powers were fundamentally responsible for the change of wind. The Japanese concept of 神風 -- kamikaze, "divine wind" -- unavoidably comes to mind.

In the bleak days just before the opening ceremony, I wondered whether the air could be such a problem that it would, through sheer shock, force a reconsideration of China's environmental policies. Now it's possible to imagine the opposite prospect: that Beijingers, having for once seen how transformed and pleasant the city can be when not under a pall, might resist being pushed back into the blear. As Jake Barnes once put it in different circumstances,  Isn't it pretty to think so.
 

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