The smog is so bad in Hong Kong that hundreds of runners in the recent marathon collapsed and had to be revived. One man died. The Government announced that the marathon organisers had acted properly. The smog..well er.. that is supposed to be mostly generated by mainland China, so its someone else’s problem.
When I first came to Hong Kong over a decade ago, the ocean waters were already polluted but the skies were still blue. Ten years ago, I watched shoals of dead fish wash up on a deserted sandy beach at Ham Tin, near the China border. Last night, I saw a lemon coloured sun sink into a grey and gritty sea. Most days now, it’s impossible to see from the island to Kowloon, a short ferry trip away. I saw some fish jumping in mid harbour recently, but I think they were just trying to get out of the chemical mix we call harbour water.
Sore throats and runny eyes are common here. People wear masks to walk to work.
Maybe much pollution does come from the mainland where environmental controls are seen to hinder the economic miracle. But if you look out the window in Pokfulam, you can see an Australian coal burning, privately owned power station spreading long noxious plumes across the sky. There is some technology, which can allow cleaner burns, but hey, that might reduce profits. Anyway Hong Kong power stations are working flat out, generating extra power sold to meet mainland demands.
Meanwhile, the streets are choked with private buses belching fumes as they try to get pass chauffer driven limos double-parked outside jewelry stores. Buses were held up for half an hour the other day in Wellington Street, by a big black Lamborghini, parked about a metre out from double yellow no-parking lines. The driver was nowhere to be seen. Two policemen looked on, apparently helplessly.
Private property wins out over public interest every time here.