Sun, Apr 19, 2009 - Page 2 News List

EPA unveils pair of mascots


The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday named its new mascots — a polar bear and a Formosan Black Bear.

Aside from unveiling Bing Bing (冰冰, “icy”), the polar bear, and his partner, Heibao (黑寶, “black treasure”), at the naming ceremony at the Taipei Zoo, children were taught about energy conservation and carbon reduction.

In a skit, Bing Bing made a telephone call to Heibao to complain about the melting ice caps in the North Pole. However, when Heibao arrived at the scene to rescue Bing Bing as well as the pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, Bing Bing was already floating atop a detached bloc of ice.

The children were also taught a “carbon reduction dance routine.”

In response to the EPA’s efforts to promote environmental protection to children, Taipei resident Wang Hsiu-hua (王秀花) said the skits were fun and were an effective way to reach out to children. However, Taipei resident Riker Tang (湯行健) said that while the EPA’s underlying motive was well-intentioned, the effect of the promotional event would be limited.

“Making a serious problem cute does not help children realize its severity. Without further explanation, the only impression children will have after today is that ‘polar bears are cute,’” Tang said.

Referring to a policy promoted by EPA’s first minister, Eugene Chien (簡又新), almost 20 years ago, Tang said: “Just like the trash cans that were shaped like giant alien babies and came in four different colors, the promotion confuses people and diverts their attention with cuteness. The environmental problems are left unresolved.”

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