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.