Thursday, December 8, 2011

I told you so (China pollution)

When someone is doing some kind of behavior that is bothering you, the first natural reaction is to ask them to stop, hopefully politely.  If that doesn't work, then the next step  is commonly to complain to them more vigorously, or attempt to find a way to make the person stop what they're doing.  (Like calling security, or the authorities).  If that route wasn't available, the next step after complaining and stronger appeals to desist  might be physical force. 

The aggravation factor might be compounded if the person doing the annoying thing isn't aware of it, or worse, IS aware of it but either denies that it's annoying, or doesn't admit that it's as annoying as you find it.  That perception can lead to real disagreements and a real downside to any action that the offendee might make on the offender.

Of course, if there's a way to escape being influenced by the behavior, then that's a good way to go.  But what if there wasn't?

Take as a somewhat gross example that you are unfortunately sitting next to  someone on a bus who is regularly and strongly passing very odoriferous intestinal gas.  You could ask them to stop, but they might not be able to.  You could complain to  them and hope they'd get off, get some Gas-X, and get on a different bus.  If the  bus wasn't crowded, you could try to move away from them.  But how would you feel if you got to the point where you just flat out told them how obviously awful it was (which could have several backup passenger attestations), and they said either:

"Oh, just get used to it, it's not that bad," or
"So what, it's bad, what are you going to do about it?" or
"You gotta a problem with me?  It's a free country," etc.

You and the other affected passengery would probably be ticked off at the offender's lack of awareness, sensitivity, and politeness.  There is obviously a reasonable solution to someone really offensive and really unaware/obstinate about it, which would be to escort them off the bus.  Might take a few people to do it.  Which at a certain level is something that the gassy offender should have taken upon to do themselves -- get off and walk, before precipitating a conflict.

Well, right now the citizenry of China reminds me of passengers on a bus trapped breathing the emanations of a wealthy gassy person on a bus who is trying to  get them to live with it by passing out small amounts of money.  Even though  the money is good, the citizens are getting more and more fed up with the situation, particularly because the person passing the gas still doesn't admit it's becoming
a serious problem.  So these people are complaining that the person really has to be aware that he's offending them so badly, and do something, like get off the bus or change his/her diet.

With that introduction, read the following:

"Competitor Tencent's weibo users' posts on pollution generated a whopping 68 million  comments, boosting the topic to the fourth most-discussed of the day.

Some linked the toxic air to other hot issues of the day, such as a manhunt for the  bomber of a bank in central China, or a yoghurt drink made by Coca Cola that was  deliberately poisoned, killing one.

"The bank explosion in Wuhan, poisoned milk in Changchun, serious air pollution  in Beijing... Can we live or not? Or is it that I pay too much attention to the  dark side of society?" web user Gaiyong wrote."

Weibo user "T_maoyangshenghuo" reacted angrily at comments from the spokesperson  of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau saying the smog in Beijing caused  "slight pollution" over the last two days.

"Beijing citizens are speechless. Where is the serious pollution? In the brain of  the spokesperson?" the message said.

and also this:

"For a quarter of the year, we can't see beyond 500 metres (yards) and the government  shamelessly declares that air quality is good," said one critic on Sina's weibo,  a hugely popular microblog. "Can't they tell us the truth?"

So the Chinese people are ticked off, and one of the things ticking them off is that the government isn't admitting the seriousness of the problem.  I have often  stated that China's environmental problems will lead to civil unrest.  And the tone of these responses to the irritation, health effects, and disruption is that they're getting ticked off enough to consider throwing the Chinese government off the bus.

And if that happens, watch out.

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