I’ll be the first to admit that I would rather not be the first out on the hiking trails when the pollution is high. I can feel the effects immediately in regards to a decreased lung capacity and a general difficulty in breathing and recovery rate. Hong Kong’s air pollution issues have seemingly improved somewhat in recent times, at least visually, thanks mainly due to the introduction of fine air filters on Hong Kong’s coal power stacks. But that doesn’t help us much considering that our coal power is sold back to China to offset our electricity bills from the 70% of power demand that is imported from China’s Nuclear power plant (note that that was back in 2011 – it may very well still be the same). Besides that, our streets are still clogged with diesel trucks that are choking our lungs with their fine particulate matter, adding to our decreased lung capacity. Essentially then, the best place for us, is in the country parks hiking somewhere far away from our city streets.
What’s the point of having mountains to hike up, trails to run along and a sea to swim in if soaring pollution levels result in government warnings telling us to “stay indoors and avoid physical exertion”?
In this article, Wake Up and Smell the Pollution by HK Magazine, Leung’s sentiments are shared by Michael Pieper (that’s me) who runs his own hiking website (www.hiking-hong-kong.com) and Facebook hiking group. He says: “High pollution levels in Hong Kong can be directly related to the number of visitors to my hiking website. When there are blue skies, visitor numbers soar and likewise when pollution skyrockets, visitor numbers drop right off. There is only so much that I can do to promote Hong Kong’s vast array of hiking trails. The rest comes from the government’s commitment to caring for the health of its people by cleaning up our dirty skies.”