New Delhi clears the air

As the world's eyes fell on Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, Chinese authorities scrambled to find a way to improve the city's notoriously low air quality. They shut down factories, closed roads down and even tried to disperse rain clouds. Now, New Delhi is facing a similar problem prior to hosting October's Commonwealth Games. But the world's fourth most polluted city is banking on some clean tech to get it done: a giant, half million dollar air purifier. This seven-ton machine, built by an Italian company, has a five-stage filtering process and can go through 10,000 cubic meters of air every hour. P.K. Sharma, health chief of New Delhi's Municipal Council spoke with Agence France-Presse:

"It is the first such project in India and if it works then we would acquire a number of them and place them at strategic locations," the health chief of the New Delhi Municipal Council, P.K. Sharma, said.

He said a state environmental agency will monitor the performance of the machine, which costs about 25 million rupees ($551,000 dollars) and works like a vacuum cleaner, sucking in air and releasing it purified form from a roof vent."

Like in the Beijing Olympics, pollution can be a major factor for the 8,000 or so competing athletes. Three months of testing will show whether the machine actually works or not, although there are already dozens of similar models installed in Spain, Switzerland and Italy. Let's just hope it's more effective than Beijing's measures.



Quiz: Which has the highest death rate: Germany, Iraq, or Kenya?

For those of you who don't subscribe to the bimonthly print edition of Foreign Policy, you're missing a great feature: the FP Quiz. It has eight intriguing questions about how the world works.

The question I'd like to highlight this week is:

Which of these three countries has the highest annual death rate?

a) Germany    b) Iraq    c) Kenya

(The photo above is of half-buried headstones at Arlington National Cemetery during last month's D.C.-area "snowpocalypse.")

Answer after the jump ...


A, Germany. People often associate high death rates with war or poverty, but a country's annual death rate -- the number who die per 1,000 people -- relates significantly to its population's age structure. As countries become wealthier, birthrates fall, resulting in a higher proportion of elderly people and thus a higher death rate. In Germany, 20 percent of people are at least 65, and the death rate is 10.9 per 1,000. In contrast, only 3 percent of Iraqis are 65 or older, and Iraq's death rate is 5.03 per 1,000 (less than half of Germany's),according to the CIA's World Factbook.

And for more questions about how the world works, check out the rest of the FP Quiz.

Win McNamee/Getty Images