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.
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.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.