And I simply do not have the heart to show what it looks like today -- August 8, the magical 08/08/08 chosen for its positive auspices for the Olympics. I'll just say, it looks very much like this view from six weeks ago. This is a disaster.

About six months ago, I interviewed the (impressive) Chinese scientists responsible for monitoring Beijing's air quality and later reported their views in the Atlantic:

The last PowerPoint slide in a presentation that one of the scientists showed me read, "We are confident that the air quality goals for Olympics 2008 will be met in Beijing." When I asked, "Really?" all eyes turned toward the senior CAS official in the room, a British-trained scientist. "I personally am sure the goals will be met," he said. Even if the winds are wrong? "Ninety-nine percent."

So either we're in the one-percent case, or they were fooling themselves. Or required to say what they did. It doesn't matter.

I suppose there's also a one-percent possibility that the international embarrassment will be a Chernobyl-type stimulus toward truly radical environmental action in China and around the world. But maybe that's fooling myself too.

Here we go.

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