The Greening of Beijing | Bleader

The Greening of Beijing

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Richard Rayner has a short piece in this week's New Yorker that offers a fascinating glimpse of the extent of China's Olympic efforts. A few years back, Beijing's deciduous trees were hit by a blight that left them bare of leaves, and concerned about the impression this would make, Chinese officials enlisted the help of Finnish entomologist Kari Heliövaara. He and a team of Chinese scientists discovered that moth and sawfly larvae were the source of the destruction, and rather than resort to chemicals, they devised a method of infecting the larvae with a fatal parasite. On a tight deadline because of the games, China built about 20 huge facilities for breeding what are in effect parasite-infected cocoon bombs. After a trial run showed that they worked--the leaves in a control area returned within weeks--they bred millions more infected larvae. Twice earlier this year, Rayner writes, "an army of more than a thousand Chinese students, supervised by entomologists, went from tree to tree all over Beijing, putting cocoons on two hundred thousand trees."

Despite the screwed-on cocoons, in Heliövaara's words, "the trees look great on TV. Beijing is green."

I think of the sad little mottled pin oaks I walk by on the way to the el each morning and muse on what our Mayor of the Landscaped Medians would do were we to win the Olympics 2016 bid--call on Moore Landscapes, Inc.? And I gotta ask again, does the mayor (for life?) really think the Olympics won't cost taxpayers a dime? 

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