Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A scarier perspective on pollution

Today was a particularly hazy and pollution-filled day in Hong Kong, one of those days when you go to the harbor, breathe in that nice harbor breeze, and proceed to cough and spit to get the taste of industrial emissions out of your mouth. If you grew up in the Valley like me (okay, it was the San Gabriel Valley, so it was a Valley more than it was the Valley...whatever), you remember smog alert days like this in the early 90s, where school was optional because going outside would "take 5 days off your life."

That never scared me. My attitude has always been, "Great! Take off 5 of the crappy days at the end!" For example, I've never understood people who refuse to feed their dogs people food, to supposedly give them 1 or 2 extra years of life. I think my dogs are happier with 13 gluttonous years than 14 jealous ones. And historically, my overindulged pets live to at least 18 years anyhow. This is also consistent with my general philosophy on life, which allows me to smoke a little, over-drink a little, overeat a little, and the like. In effect, I engage in excess in moderation.

But my Hong Kong compatriots and I have developed a terrifying new way to frame the issue. No longer does the pollution take 5 days off our lives. It turns 5 good days into 5 bad days.

That scares me. That is a deterrent.

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