Since arriving in Taiwan I’ve become alot more environmental aware. This has a lot to do with the type of conversations that I have with my foreigner friends here. There are some things I think I feel myself, like my eyes becoming more sensitive and red, which I instinctively attribute to pollution, but then again – I don’t ride a motorbike back in Israel so I have no idea what is the real cause for this. I listen to all that people tell me, and sometimes accept those as facts, but I don’t have the real data to know what is happening here in Taiwan when it comes to the environment. Honestly, I’m confused. I’ve been reading posts from David on Formosa and View from Taiwan about the environment, and both of them suggest pessimistic data on what they perceive is happening here, but when I look at the data they’re pointing to, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I want to know – what is going on and just how bad is it?
This week I gave a short lecture on this in the GPSEA course to share my confusion with my friends. Following is the presentation :
The links used in this presentation are the following :
- Taiwan beats the US in Environmental Report (Taipei Times)
- Environmental index puts Taiwan at the bottom of the list (Taipei Times)
- The World Bank
- Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
- The View from Taiwan: Taiwan Beats US in Environmental Index: ROFL (yeah, I’m aware of the other articles)
- David on Formosa : The Ugly Isle (yeah, I’m aware of the more recent articles as well)
Point is, when you compare Taiwan to other countries, perceived as clean, and take into account various factors like GDP (/PPP) and other measures, it seems Taiwan isn’t all that bad – it’s doing quite well on some factors while a little worse on others. Michael Turton has been pointing to many of the problems Taiwan is facing when it comes to the environment but the general perception that the Taiwanese don’t care about the environment and that things here are horrible is a bit problematic too. Israel, a similar size/economy country to Taiwan, faces the same problems, doing slightly better on some factors while doing much worse on others.
I’m not looking for someone to reassure me that Taiwan’s environment is heaven, but I am looking for a more precise interpretation of things here. If you’re a politician and you get all those endless contradicting stats, having limited budget and resources and political pressures, what would you focus your efforts on? where would you start? what are -you- going to do based on this problematic data?
Help me out, comments and reply posts on the topic of Taiwan’s environment and how to address the confusing data would be highly appreciated.