Call to arms- How to make Taiwan's population recognise and take seriously the air pollution here?

As per the title.

I’ve had many interactions recently in Taiwan that have made me realise many local people are not sufficiently aware of their environment and specifically the seriousness of air pollution and the causes of air pollution and what could be done about it. The media is also not really covering this issue. There are a lot of misconceptions about such that Taipei has worse air quality than Taichung (not true) and that a lot/most of the air pollution in Taiwan is from China (not true) and that hazy skies are normal (not true).

They tend to take their cue here from things like Western inspired Earth Day and CO2 reduction rather than focusing on the serious and immediate local problems like air and water pollution which are more specific to Asia.

I think the government is fudging the issue for reasons of face and so as not to attract even more negative attention.

I believe that to deal with a problem one first must recognise there is a problem.

My idea:
To rent electronic sign space in public spaces such as highway entrances/exits and on main thoroughfares.

The electronic billboard would give real-time information on the PM2.5 and PM10 in the local area. It uses international standards such as ACQIS not Taiwan’s more old fashioned and relaxed standards that doesn’t include PM2.5 in their definition of good/moderate/poor air quality etc.

By showing the numbers against the international index (and sometimes comparing to other cities areas overseas) we can make the population at large more aware of this situation, which will put pressure on the government to introduce more effective clean air legislation and will also encourage citizens to push for cleaner transport options and cleaner electricity generation.

If enough people donate to a signboard program I believe that we could get this thing off the ground. Is there anybody out there with relevant experience or contacts?

Show them the negative effects in a way they relate to. Years ago when I first came to Taiwan and was working as a teacher, all the parents were concerned about their kids’ IQ. So something like the link between air pollution and lower IQ may spur them. scientificamerican.com/artic … st-breath/ (That’s just the first link on a quick Google, I’m sure there are better ones).

I think the sign board idea is great.

I was wondering - is it possible to use the 101 to send messages? By getting an accurate PM rating up there, people may wonder what it’s about. It might get some media coverage. If it’s possible. Just running with your original idea. Don’t even know if it’s possible. I remember people using it at Valentine’s day and stuff like that.

I wonder if they really give a shit about pollution. One of my students lives downwind of a chemical factory where everyone in the neighbourhood knows that there is a high rate of cancer and nobody leaves. She says when she does leave the city for work she misses the smell.

CFImage, if there was a relationship between test scores and IQ, then that info would sink in. I’ve met many high test score/low IQers.

I don’t think air pollution is something that can be stopped in an urban, industrialized society.

It can be reduced, but not eliminated.

Air pollution also has little effect on the general population’s life expectancy.

23 million people living on a tiny island. all working like bees to get ahead. Taiwan has done a tremendous job cleaning up the air in the past 20 years. The fact remains though: people + modern industry/economy = air pollution.

It, of course, doesn’t help that the culture/religion of China emphasizes burning of money and such. This certainly makes for some bad air days.

If you’re looking for poster fodder, one great way to clean up the air is more nuclear power!

Go nukes! Shut down those filthy coal plants!

Nuclear power = clean air!

This would be a great message for the kids and parents. :discodance:

T

Don’t believe everything that you breathe.
theguardian.com/environment/ … ple-a-year

Air pollution is the most serious environmental problem in Asia, and has massive effects on health such as high rates of allergies, lung cancer and it is also linked to heart attacks. It’s also been linked to IQ retardation.
Just because people don’t recognize these facts widely here doesn’t mean they are not facts.
Im not very convinced that air pollution levels have improved tremendously. Some pollutant levels may be lower, but others could be higher. Air pollution levels have certainly not improved since I have been here in the last decade. There has been a noticeable worsening over the last few winters too.
The problem remains that levels can get to 6 times safety limits in the EU.

You’ll need a cute little animated mascot for the various levels on your sign. He could be choking on poor days, healthy on good days, and twitching and dying on really bad days. Perhaps a little scary/cute animated tumor could run around and chase the hero during explanations of the effects of pollution.

Have I lived in Japan too long?

As someone you lives in China, I think it has to get BAD before people start protesting. People protest here and thing are being done at policy level at least, but for the man on the street to actually modify his behaviour takes a lot more than you think it does.

I think people have this feeling of helplessness: they think there’s no point in busing instead of taxiing because it’s not going to make an impact when big business creates so much crap. Maybe that’s just people rationalising their own laziness and inaction, though.

Who’s ever figured out a way to tell people they’re lazy and stupid and have them action it?

The awareness of air pollution effects is actually higher in China now. Taiwan is kind of backward in this regard. The first step is definitely to build awareness, cute animals is a good idea!

[quote=“achdizzy1099”]I don’t think air pollution is something that can be stopped in an urban, industrialized society.

It can be reduced, but not eliminated.

Air pollution also has little effect on the general population’s life expectancy.

23 million people living on a tiny island. all working like bees to get ahead. Taiwan has done a tremendous job cleaning up the air in the past 20 years. The fact remains though: people + modern industry/economy = air pollution.

It, of course, doesn’t help that the culture/religion of China emphasizes burning of money and such. This certainly makes for some bad air days.

If you’re looking for poster fodder, one great way to clean up the air is more nuclear power!

Go nukes! Shut down those filthy coal plants!

Nuclear power = clean air!

This would be a great message for the kids and parents. :discodance:

T[/quote]

I believe you have fully assimilated into being Taiwanese. There is a lot of preventable air pollution in Taiwan but nobody gives a shit because it is too big of a problem. Japan and SK usually have 50% (or less) of the measured pollution that Taiwan does.

Its not really bad enough in Taipei for people to give a toss. They will just say how much worse it is in China. And there is no big indoor air pollution problem here in Taiwan and it is the coal and wood stoves that burn indoors in poor countries that is the major killer.

I do like the signboards, Taiwanese love comparing themselves to others and if they reflect negatively there will be some rumbling (that or face saving measures to doctor the results).

[quote=“Ermintrude”]As someone you lives in China, I think it has to get BAD before people start protesting. People protest here and thing are being done at policy level at least, but for the man on the street to actually modify his behaviour takes a lot more than you think it does.

I think people have this feeling of helplessness: they think there’s no point in busing instead of taxiing because it’s not going to make an impact when big business creates so much crap. Maybe that’s just people rationalising their own laziness and inaction, though.

Who’s ever figured out a way to tell people they’re lazy and stupid and have them action it?[/quote]

China is making moves on prioritizing the environment in law now. We will see if it is enforced or not.

One effective way of getting the message across to a large audience would be to make it the central theme of a prime-time TV soap.

The central characters could be an environmentally aware family with two extremely cute kids, a daughter of about 8 or 9 and a son of about 6. The parents would be very likeable, attractive people that most viewers would wish to identify with. They are deeply concerned about pollution, always going on about how serious it is and the need for the government to do something about it.

Their 6-year-old son is in hospital dying from cancer caused by pollution. He regularly comes up with statements like: “Daddy, please tell the government to stop the pollution, so that other children don’t get sick like me.” Loads of scope there for the kind of pathos so loved by Taiwan’s soap viewers.

His older sister suffers from serious allergies and asthma, and has severe asthma attacks that regularly get her rushed to hospital for emergency treatment. At least once, she’ll be revived from the brink of death, when her family are all sobbing around her bed believing that she’s already died (a good old staple of Taiwanese soaps, with the heart monitor stopping before miraculously starting up again). This would provide the perfect opportunity for the doctor to lament the rising incidence of asthma and other ailments caused by environmental pollution, and to chide the government for not doing enough about it.

The main villain of the piece would be a nasty gangster factory owner, who is always doing stuff like illegally dumping toxic waste. One of the heroes, perhaps a brother of the main hero, works in the factory and overhears the boss arranging with a blue truck driver to cart away a load of dangerous waste and dump it in the river. He secretly follows the blue truck, and starts to film the dumping, so that he can report it to the authorities. But he’s caught by one of the boss’s henchmen, beaten up, and the camera destroyed. Another time, someone alerts local environmental officials about some serious breach of environmental regulations, but when they go to inspect the factory, the boss pays them off or intimidates them so they don’t do anything about it. There are frequent scenes of the boss and his cronies shown to be in cahoots with politicians and local officials, drinking with them in KTVs and so on. All designed to stir up a sense of outrage in the TV audience. Of course, there should also be a good politician/official/policeman, who is trying his best to get environmental laws enforced and bring the baddies to justice. From time to time, the forces of good prevail over the forces of evil, with a polluter, gangster or corrupt official getting successfully prosecuted and imprisoned – to show that it can be done.

There can be all kinds of threads and sub-threads conveying environmental messages. For example, one of the characters rides an electric scooter, which he/she loves showing off to others and harping on about its advantages. One stubborn old fellow insists that he’ll never change his ancient smoke-belching scooter for one of those new-fangled things, until one day he’s stopped by the police, fined, and has to take it to a mechanic to get it fixed. The mechanic tells him it’ll cost a fortune to bring the old scooter within emission limits, and suggests that he buys an electric scooter, going on about all their advantages, especially about how they’re now a lot cheaper than petrol scooters. Finally, the old fellow decides to get one, and once it’s his and he starts to use it, he’s as happy as a sandpiper with it, and as proud as punch to own and ride it.

When Character A complains about the pollution to Character B, Character B shrugs fatalistically and says it’s just the way things are, and that they just have to live with it. When A says he can’t and won’t accept it, B tells him that he’d better emigrate to a country where there’s little or no pollution, because there’s no chance of things ever getting better in Taiwan. But A vehemently insists that he’s Taiwanese, he loves Taiwan, and he doesn’t want to live anywhere else. If foreigners in other countries can reduce or eliminate pollution, then why shouldn’t Taiwanese be able do so too?

A good addition to the cast would be a pretty, big-breasted young blonde woman who is married to a young Taiwanese fellow. They met when he was studying overseas, and he’s brought her back to live in Taiwan. She’s always complaining about the pollution, how bad it is compared to her home country, and how it makes her uncomfortable and ill, and she keeps suggesting that they should leave Taiwan and go to live in her country or some other less polluted place. But he’s very filial, and needs to stay in Taiwan to look after his ageing parents. Her in-laws are constantly having to apologize to her about the pollution, and say how ashamed they are that Taiwan compares so poorly with her home country and can’t do any better.

Since Taiwanese soaps are always full of gangsters, evil factory owners, beatings, corrupt politicians, sick children, hospital scenes, et al, it would be easy to combine the standard plot lines with an environmental message along these lines, with endless scope for weaving it into many different threads of interest and action. It can be as full of drama and incident as the typical soap, but with a very strong underlying theme that gets the viewers thinking about the situation of pollution, its effects on health, and what could and should be done about it.

There’s a practical reason why electric vehicles never caught on. For one thing it takes forever to charge and it can go maybe 100 miles (for cars), then it requires like 8 hours to charge back up. Also the batteries needed for acceptable range are expensive and consumes a lot of space. I would say same with scooters, and with lithium ion cells it’s even worse, it’s prone to fires and explosion and it’s also extremely expensive. I seen an electric scooter sold at a mall for no less than 100K and I’m willing to bet a good portion of its price is in the batteries. You can fuel up a gas scooter quickly and it would have acceptable range. This is the reason why vehicles like Toyoda Prius did so well… it burns gasoline but has very good mileage due to the hybrid technology… so I am sure someone can do the same with scooters.

Also would you really want your battery to die right in the middle of a critical turn, or needing to avoid something but lacking the power (thus causing accidents)?

Creating a soap opera to highlight environmental issue would be great, if you can get a major film producer on board with this… To have any reach you’ll have to get it aired during primetime.

TL, you wrote a lot of mistruths about electric vehicles there. For instance electric scooters and bikes are common tech in China, reliable and cheap. They don’t take 8 hours to charge either. Even if they did you could just use a spare battery.
The problems you mention of running out power is exactly what happens with regular combustion vehicles.
Electric cars are a more difficult proposition and yet the hybrid form is catching on fast and full electric will be popular within a few years. Fully electric cars have few parts and would need very little maintenance. Just encouraging more plug in and other hybrids would be huge as locally emitted city air pollution would drop drastically. Electric vehicles have among the highest safety ratings of ALL vehicles, see Tesla as an example.
Electric vehicles can be 5 times cheaper to run fuel cost wise. That is why we already see Taiwan’s taximen switching to hybrids en masse!

Well I don’t know why electric scooters are not popular here. For every electric scooters I see there are at least 1000 gas scooters. Either there’s a huge lobby or gas prices just aren’t high enough for people to want to make the switch. Plus emission requirements? I think just about every test center has a “test scooter” so they can pass every scooter that shows up for the test. I’ve seen enough scooters that belches black smoke to know that at least half the scooters out there do not pass the standard. The worse thing about electric scooter is you won’t hear them coming when they run you over. At least you can hear gas scooters long before they hit you.

Electric scoots are great. Cheap and convenient. Regular scoots aren’t allowed in my city.

The main downside is that they are silent and they fuck up pedestrians.

Dunno how they’d work in Taiwan: it’s flat where I live.

The scooter industry has been able to sell basically the same scooter for decades, making huge profits with a few cosmetic changes now and then. They fought the imports of foreign scooters and motorcycles tooth and nail, and successfully fought to have as many unreasonable restrictions as they could get placed on them, in order to get rid of competition that would force them to spend money on innovation instead of just raking in the money as they’ve always done. Electric scooters are quite common in many of China’s cities.

Air pollution causes so many health problems it’s simply not funny. And it’s ubiquitous, nobody escapes it. Worst of all, it effects children such that the effects last throughout their lives.

theecologist.org/News/news_a … ldren.html

slideshare.net/CleanAirUK/ia … ean-airism