Friday, March 14, 2014

So Bad It's Good For You

China’s air is so polluted that some people don’t leave their homes for weeks, or months, at a time.

A picture of a sunny day in Beijing looks like the legendary London fog, only the Chinese are dealing with acid-laced death thick enough to chew instead of suspended droplets of harmless water. One makes you wet, the other burns your eyes, restricts your airway, plugs up your lungs and makes you dead.

But this is a good thing, according to Chinese officials. It might be unhealthy pollution caused by a country willing to work its people to death in order to please those of us living in the richest 10% of the world with the fruits of cheaply-produced sweatshop labor, yet it also serves as a safety net against potential enemies and spies.

It’s like a cloaking device, hiding the bustling cities of Beijing and Shanghai from the prying eyes of all the evil non-Communist countries that might otherwise learn the ancient Chinese secret of how to use caustic chemicals to turn recyclable cardboard into faux-meat dumplings to sell to unsuspecting pedestrians from sidewalk food carts. The citizenry of China shouldn’t fear air pollution, they should run outside and embrace it – but only in ten minutes intervals followed by a full body scrub and sinus flush.

And over in France, the smog in Paris is so bad you can’t see the horizon, let alone the intricate details of the Eiffel Tower from only a mile away. Google it right now and whatever picture you’re seeing of the Paris skyline will look like it was taken by someone who smeared flan all over his camera lens. Actually, that’s probably a better use for flan than eating it. Nasty stuff…

And, while the French aren’t quite as enthusiastic about their pollutants as the Chinese are about theirs, they do at the very least have the good sense to blame it not on themselves and their slack environmental laws but, instead, on Mother Nature herself. It seems that uncharacteristically warm days and cold nights are causing the air at ground level to remain dormant, which means Paris has been left eyeballs deep in its own smog rather than watching the city’s pollutants rise into the upper atmosphere and become someone else’s problem.

Here in the United States, we need to do a better job with these kinds of phony-balony PR tactics employed by our European and Asian friends. We too easily feel the weight of responsibility for our environmental abuses. That doesn’t mean we stop abusing the environment. We just feel really bad about it when we’re done. Heck, if we feel really guilty we might even do something symbolic.

Wipe out 95% of the West Coast sequoia forests? 

Launch a campaign to get elementary school kids around the country to plant thousands of mass-produced, sickly pine sapplings.

Poison our lakes and oceans with trash and microscopic bits of degraded plastic? 
Launch a national PR campaign to discourage people from buying bottled water.

Instead of this kind of bleeding-heart, Johnny-come-lately do-goodery, what we really need to do is shift blame to implausible causes while lauding the fictional benefits of the devastation we have created.

Take the recent poisoning of watersheds in West Virginia and North Carolina, for example. Sure, what those companies did was disgracefully awful and preventable, but why not turn those frowns upside down with some positive spin? Maybe they have compromised the natural water resources for thousands of people and destroyed immeasurable quantities and varieties of wildlife, but those poisons might also be targeting the dreaded Asian jumping silver carp.

See? It isn’t so hard once you put a little thought to it.

© 2014 Mark Feggeler

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