Lately, the air quality in Beijing has been astonishingly pleasant. For the past three weeks, when the skies haven’t been a sunny cerulean, they’ve been a rainy shade of gray, more cool than the usual muggy. Even when I was in the neighboring countryside two weekends ago, the difference between the rural and urban air quality didn’t feel quite so vast. Whether this change is a result of the PRC’s many Olympic measures for their gargantuan coming-out party or of divine fate, I can’t be quite sure. Yet, with all the new flowers and trees planted next to the roads and Beijing’s removing half its cars off the streets (a measure that started on July 20, and which bans cars with odd and even-numbered license plates on alternate days), it’s sometimes easy to believe that all of these changes are the results of Olympic preparations. Granted, fundamental environmental rehabilitation takes years, and bigger measures than planting several thousand pots of plants and pulling cars off the streets for two months are required, but China has also been busy constructing some fairly impressive green Olympic projects.