It's the future, Jim, but not as we know it...

There's more to tomorrow than robots, flying cars, and a faster internet.
22C+ is all about Deep Futures, futures that matter. Welcome to futures fantastic, unexpected, profound, but most of all deeply meaningful...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Beach Where Nobody Swims

Last week I asked the million dollar question - or should I say the 8 trillion Yuan question - "What's wrong with this beach?" If you didn't see it, take a look now before you read further (I''m going to give you the answer below).

22C+ member, Nancy, got it right, as you'll note in the blog comments. There was nobody in the water! Discovery Bay is a really nice place, and quite beautiful, but like all of the seaside places around Hong Kong, you wouldn't actually touch the water, let alone swim in it! The reference to Batman refers to the movie Batman Returns, which was partly shot in Hong Kong. There was one scene which had to be scrapped. That was the one where the Caped Crusader was to fly in the Batcopter over Hong Kong Harbour and plunge into the sea. However, after testing the water, it was found to be too toxic, even for Batman!

I call it the 8 trillion Yuan question,because that is how much the Beijing government pumped into the economy after the recent global economic downturn. Much of that money has gone into unnecessary infrastructure projects in the mainland. At the same time, the green budget was slashed by 40%, to save cash. Nobody knows just how much environmental damage has occurred as this money has burned, but I suspect it's more than a little bit. The government sees the environment as being expendable, because economic growth is more important. They are all too aware of the enormous environmental problems facing China, but they care more about the economy; and when you separate economy from sustainable development, there are big problems.

Besides the crappy water, take a look at the picture below, also taken a week ago in Hong Kong. The buildings are across the harbour from where the bride is standing (I hope her future baby will be OK!) That day, air pollution near my workplace was 15 times higher than W.H.O. recommendations, in terms of heavy particles. Large portions of mainland China descended upon Hong Kong and mixed with the local smog, as a result of the terrible drought. That's why the video of Discovery Bay in the previous blog post was a bit blurry - the pollution was bad even out of the city.

What price do we place on our future world, when our failure to practice foresight in the present is negligible?

Here's the shot by Hong Kong Harbour. You won't see this in the tourist ads, I suspect.



  1. OMG! You need a gas mask to breathe! I feel so fortunate to live high in the mountains. It is mostly clean, but there are so many ecological problems, no matter where you live. We live on a small planet. If only countries like China will heed the warnings (and I'm not letting the US off the hook, either). Maybe if we quit buying all their junk? Here at Lake Tahoe we struggle to keep the water from losing it's amazing clarity, but each year it loses ground. When I was a small child the lake had clarity to 100 ft, now it is only 25 ft.

    But to live in such an amazing place and not be able to swim in its waters? Tragic.

  2. Well, I wrote a response here, but it seems to have disappeared into cyberspace. Anyway, I said that yes, it is a tragedy that the water is generally too polluted to swim in. Hopefully one day the values will swing, and people here will value quality of life above bank balances. However, at present, the prime goal of life for many in HK is to die with as as many zeros as possible at the end of your monthly bank statement.

  3. It may be too late, far too late.