A Second Day Of 'Severe' Air Pollution In Hong Kong...

I just don't buy all this stuff about dust storms from the Gobi desert.

The government are desperately trying to hide behind it as a reason for us all to sit back and relax about it. OK, it's a contributing factor, but down at the roadside it's as filthy as ever.

Try standing in it for any length of time to photograph the long-suffering Hong Kong lunch-time crowd, and you will know what I mean.

The 'severe' air pollution is the talk of the town right now. A day late, Greenpeace were out in force, quick (kind of) to seize a photo op.

Interestingly, their angle is that the dust storms from the Gobi Desert are caused by climate change. It's certainly a valid premise, given the current droughts in the Yangtze River basin. Their reasoning goes something like this. What is climate change caused by? CO2, of course. And what is the major source of CO2 and air pollution in China? Power stations. It's all linked up, you see. You cannot seperate droughts, floods and air pollution from climate change. Unless the governments of China and Hong Kong want to get bitten in the arse by these problems a few years down the line, Greenpeace believes the state really should be dealing with these problems now. And in a coordinated way too, not as single issues to be dealt with separately. The more one looks at it, droughts, floods, air pollution all seem to be the price we are paying for the country's rampant economic progress.

Apart from Greenpeace, another NGO out in force today were Hong Kong's own plucky 'Clean Air Network' (CAN). Large crowds at lunch time gathered outside 'Ben & Jerry's' ice cream parlour in Central to buy HK$10 ice cream cones. 100% of the proceeds were donated to CAN. One silver lining of the 'severe' air pollution is that, down to pure luck of timing, many more folk than were originally anticipated by CAN came down to 'Ben & Jerry's' to sign their petition and help raise funds. Though the event was organised well in advance, it was a stroke of luck that it fell on the second highest day of air pollution in Hong Kong's history. Talk about lucking out, and getting the crowds in. Well done CAN, and a big thanks to 'Ben & Jerry's' for their 'Free Cone Day'!

ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA PHOTOGRAPHER

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