I am moved by Carsten, one of my reader, after I read his email to me days ago. An expat as he is, he is more concerned with the polution in Shanghai than many local residents. After getting his permission, I am posting his first email with me here:
I have read your blog for almost 2 years by now, it is great !
I will spend at least one year more here.
Anyway, maybe you can tell me where and what protects Shanghai against pollution, some officials in the city hall or something ?
What trigged me into this topic was that yesterday I saw some guys working outside a small repair shop for motorcycles. They should change the oil, and just opened the oil plug of the motor and let it directly down on the street and into the rainwater drain system.
Then it will go to Huangpu and then the sea, polluting about one million times more seawater than the amount of oil. (How many motorcycles in Shanghai ?!)
I think at the moment noone informs anyone what the effects of this unawareness are.
At the moment people think : If I cannot see it, it is not doing any harm.
I would like to help people here to be more aware of, and understand, that if all do a little every day, it will have a tremendous impact.
In my country (Denmark) anyone can call the environment municipal office and say if someone pollutes unnecessary, so it will be stopped.
And when people feel that the air gets cleaner, and the streets are not stinking and dirty, then it will enhance itself.
Unfortunately I think that most people here in Shanghai believe that “the authorities will take care of this”.
I agree that is a big problem in the polution status in Shanghai. A lot of effort should be spent on educating people on environment protection. This topic is not widely noticed yet.
Carsten continued to write in another email:
My idea was mainly to influence the people’s general attitude in Shanghai.
Shanghai is a good place to begin making people aware of this, as Shanghai soon will be the city with most influence, because the richest people lives there (you and me ?), and they are the only one who are able to pay for cleaning up after the factories waste!
But – it must begin at the factories.
My idea is – 1: start with the peoples attitude – 2: go for the polluting companies, which now buries the wonderful China in deep trash and chemical waste, just for a short term profit.
That demand must come from the people itself.
My country has been through all the same story before (chemicals – erosion, nitrogen pollution from farmers causing lack of oxygen on the sea, etc., etc.), and we have paid a tough burdon to get everything cleaned up (and still does).
As a good outcome of the efforts: in my home country’s capital Copenhagen, we are having swimming facilities in the downtown harbour for 3 years now !
It is a great idea. I have did some research and found the following information on the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau. They provide an email address to report any environment problems:
Welcome to the internet pages of Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
Here you can find out the latest development in environmental policy and about the work of the SEPB. You can download environmental reports or regulations. We welcome your ideas and suggestions.
They also provide hotline to report any pollution of air, water, soil, noise, radiation, hazardous wastes, toxic chemicals, and vehicle emission, etc.
Once some workers were digging a very big hole on Cao Bao Rd. and made unbearable noise. I called the Environmental Protection Hotline of Xujiahui and within 10 minutes, their staff came and talked with the workers. 5 minutes later, the workers left the construciton site. I was very happy that time. I hope the hotline works for any pollution Carsten reported. A joint effort will make Shanghai a better place to live. Thanks Carsten!
Update: Carsten’s photo July 25, 2004
Carsten sent me the photo he mentioned in his comment.