Sat, Dec 26, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Air pollution awareness growing

By Chiang Sheng 江盛

Although it is not necessary for Ko to emulate Ishihara, he should regard Taipei’s air pollution as an opportunity to demonstrate his capability.

During the recent Paris Climate Change Conference, Germanwatch, a non-governmental organization based in Germany, published a climate change performance index. Of the 61 nations in the index, Taiwan was ranked 52nd, putting it in a group of very poor performers. Apparently, the government has done nothing but chant slogans about cutting carbon emissions, while letting businesses and factories burn coal and produce air pollution. It has been utterly incapable of levying an eco-tax, restricting the number of vehicles on the road and prohibiting the burning of trash, the setting off of fireworks and the burning of ghost money. Politicians’ sluggishness, incompetence and inability to catch up with environmental ethics defies comprehension.

Seventy years ago, London was known as the city of fog. In his memoirs, The Memory Chalet, British historian Tony Judt said that London’s air quality used to be as bad as Beijing’s is today. At that time, London used cheap and abundant coal as fuel, and smog became a long-term threat to the city.

Judt said that when he would stick his head out of the car window to help his father keep a safe distance between the vehicle and the curb, his face would end up covered by layers of soot and he still could not see further than his arm could reach. In addition, the smog stunk.

When people in Taipei see a shrouded Taipei 101, they should be aware that there is a much greater chance they are looking at cancer-inducing smog, rather than romantic low clouds or fog. If residents do not start protesting against air pollution, Taipei will become a disgusting city of smog.

Chiang Sheng is an attending physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mackay Memorial Hospital.

Translated by Ethan Zhan

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