Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ma’s Gang Ramps Up Taiwan’s Emissions, Turns a Blind Eye to Biodiversity and Health Concerns be Damned: “There Ain’t No Stoppin Us!”

A press release sent to us this morning by the Matsu's Fish Conservation Union (MFCU).

MFCU Press Release:
For Immediate Release

Ma’s Gang Ramps Up Taiwan’s Emissions, Turns a Blind Eye to Biodiversity and Health Concerns be Damned: “There Ain’t No Stoppin Us!”

Press conference sponsored by the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union (MFCU) in front of the Taiwan Environmental Protection [sic] Administration

9 June 2010 1:30 pm
83, Zhonghua Rd. Sec. 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City

A mega petrochemical project of the Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co. (KPTC) which in the words of its major shareholder, China Petroleum is being built “to facilitate the vertical upstream, midstream, and downstream integration of oil refining and petrochemical production。。。 as part of a Petrochemical Technology Zone Joint Investment Plan。。。 including the construction of an oil refinery, olefin center, aromatic hydrocarbons center, mid- and downstream petrochemical derivatives plants, co-generation facilities, and industrial harbor.

Originally slated for Yunlin County, next to the infamous Formosa Plastics Offshore Island facility, a more welcoming Chinese KMT local government in Changhua County will host this project that will see Taiwan’s CO2 emissions increase by six to eight percent and at the same time spell the death sentence for a population of critically endangered pink dolphins (Indo Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis). When MA and Co. get their gang in gear, whether it is climate change or biodiversity, they have got what it takes to be a model for environmental idiocy. The target site for the project also happens to be Taiwan’s cancer corridor, which will be sure to earn MA et al. more high marks for “giving a damn” about the people of Taiwan.

The occasion for this press conference is the unprecedented speed with which Taiwan’s “Mr. EB” (environmental bonehead) and EPA boss, Stephen Shen, can suck up to short term business interests and get those pesky environmental impact assessments out of the way.

In early May, shareholders of Kuokuang complained about delays in the approval for their project to Vincent Siew, No 2 environmental gangster who also happens to be the Vice President of Taiwan. Smiling Vincent, as he is fondly known in the business community got to work, EB and Premier Wu Den-yi slapped some folks around in the Executive, and it looks like all those irritating obstacles will magically disappear. Hey, this is starting to feel like the good old days of martial law – laws? process? who needs em?

Those shareholders, which include China Petroleum, Far Eastern Group, Dairen Chemical and others of the Chang Chun Group, China Man-Made Fibre Corporation,Tung Chemical Corporation, and Fubon Financial can’t really be blamed for taking advantage of what appears to be a fire sale by the Taiwan government of water, land, government services and everything they can get away. No, those companies are just doing their jobs and will no doubt be expected to boost the Chinese KMT candidates chances at the upcoming polls, because after all, those corporations and local gangsters that will benefit from all the pork flowing from the project really know how to get out the vote.

In fine form, the EPA has scheduled three “specialist meetings” in two days (dolphin impact, water resources, health risk assessment) and will conclude the circus with a fourth meeting that is scheduled for the entire day on Friday 11 June. This meeting, the subcommittee charged with screening the case before submission to the plenary EIA committee is chaired by Mr. “Good Intentions” and environmental policy advisor for the Ma-Siew Presidential campaign Professor CHIANG Pen-ji. The committee will be under great pressure to accept the proposal (with conditions of course!) so that a plenary EIA meeting can be held and the government can clear the project by the end of June as promised by VP/EB smiling Vincent.

Please come and join members of Taiwan’s “sustainable economics” community stage a demonstration in front of the EPA on 9 June 2010 as the “experts” prepare to listen to a representative from the Industrial Development Bureau tell us how they are making Taiwan safe for the future. There will be something worth photographing during the demonstration.

For more details contact: John Tsai 0919-589513

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Losing touch with the natural

Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis): photo courtesy of Richard Yu.

In an article in today's Taipei Times I noticed a few lines that got me thinking. Strangely, they had been tacked onto the end of an article where they really didn't seem to fit with the theme of the article. The article is titled Chen Chu calls for increased campus security. Chen Chu (³¯µâ) is the mayor of Kaohsiung and the article is about how the city's Education Bureau had overlooked the importance of resolving the problem of bullying on campuses.

These few lines tacked onto the end of the article got me thinking: "In other news, the city's Economic Development Bureau urged residents of Dapingding (¤j©W³») to learn to live in harmony with the Caprimulgus affinis [Savanna Nightjar] after residents complained about the noise made by the birds.

Bureau director-general Liu Hsin-cheng (¼BÄÉ¥¿) said an increasing number of the rare birds, commonly known as the Savanna Nightjar, had migrated to urban areas in recent years.

Many Siaogang District (¤p´ä) residents had complained about having difficulty sleeping because of the constant chirping made by the birds during the mating season, Liu said.

Saying that the mating season would last through August, Liu urged residents to strike a balance between their lives and protection of the birds.

Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis is a common nocturnal bird found on Taiwan's lowlands. Savanna Nightjar isn't rare as the article claims it is. Over the past decade, Savanna Nightjar have taken to roosting on the roofs of houses in urban areas and their high-pitched twee-it call is a common night sound in most towns and cities along Taiwan's western lowlands. For some reason the call of the Savanna Nightjar seems to disturb many people.

My old copy of Lonely Planet: Taiwan makes a point about the noisy nature of Taiwanese society: "Renao-It's hard to translate into English, but renao means something like 'lively', 'festive', 'happy' and 'noisy' - especially 'noisy'. Many Taiwanese seem immune to noise. You'll notice that department stores and restaurants have background music blaring at around 100 decibels. This is used to attract customers..." Indeed Taiwan is very noisy. Firecrackers going off at all hours. Countless KTVs. Fleets of noisy little blue vans with loudspeakers advertising wares or the virtues of political candidates at any time or place. Cages of roosters announcing the dawn. With all this constant din and racket it's amazing that the natural call of a wild bird provokes such an outcry. It seems that for many they have so lost touch with natural sound that when they hear it it sounds strange and out of place. Surely the call of the Savanna Nightjar is nothing like the deafening din of firecrackers and loudspeakers. Have KTVs, loudspeakers and firecrackers become so natural to us that we don't even hear the noise? Perhaps this is why we sit back and destroy areas of natural beauty like the Huben-Hushan forests. Forests are alien to us. Concrete isn't. So really, who needs to change?...and Oh, Savanna Nightjars live in Hushan, too.

Click to listen to a Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis call.