Sunday, August 30, 2009

Carrying the Torch for a Cleaner Envionment -- CAPTAIN AIR ROCKS TAIPEI!

for immediate release
For more information contact:
Captain Air tel number available upon request to media outlets: CNN, TVBS, etc.

Carrying the Torch for a Cleaner Envionment


Captain Air, aka Torch Pratt, wants to help give Taipei (and all
Taiwan) a better -- and cleaner -- environment.
As such, he has an idea, and it's a good one: using creativity to
inspire people to protect the environment. His goal: to get "scooter
poolooters" in Taiwan's capital city to cut down on the amount of
pollution they release into the air every day by turning off their motors
at long red light stops and also be asking the city government to limit the
length of the red light stop times so they don't go on too long.

He has a home-made "superhero" costume consisting of a cut-up,
hand-painted light blue raincoat, a helmet painted with Taiwan's half
of the globe, cut-off black dishwashing gloves, and an orange
megaphone. He recently had some business cards printed up, containing
his message. When he is actively engaging "scooter pollooters", he sings his
"Lang Fei Chi You" song. In Chinese!

Recently, Captain Air read about a UK environmental group
that was working with some local Taiwanese college students to discuss
the next generation of climate change activists. He went to the event,
met with the organizer, and he agreed to let him do a 15 minute
"presentation" as Captain Air. A world premiere!

One of Captain Air's happiest memories, he recalls, was the event leader
laughing continuously through the whole show. The kids loved it, too,
and he did it in English and quasi-proficient Chinese.

How did Captain Air get into this business of trying to wake people up about
air pollution in Taipei?
He has been doing stand-up comedy at the Comedy Club near Shi Da every
Wednesday, and his Captain Air "presentation" is an outgrowth of that
show, he told this blog.

Sometimes, he takes his "supersuit" to the show, tells the audience
about his goal to get people to turn off their scooters at long lights,
when they're talking on the phone, or waiting for their friends/kids.
He then intersperses descriptions of these wasteful scooter poollooters with verses
from the song (to keep it funny). Also, I'm a guitar player who writes
and sings comedy-oriented songs (a-la Adam Sandler), and one song I
sing is called "Share the Air."

"Now that I've got
everything I need ready for a "Captain Air Day of Action," I'm going
to try to recruit people to take to the streets with me on an
upcoming Sunday to sing the song, conduct surveys, shout out the
seconds on the pedestrian countdown clock, interface with the public,
and gather footage on my video camera that could be put together for
an iReport for CNN or otherwise be posted online," he said. "Promoting awareness of air pollution from scooters right now is super-important, I feel."


A letter to the president of Taiwan from CAPTAIN AIR:

Dear President Ma Ying-jeou,

During your presidential campaign, you promised to clean up Taiwan’s environment and create jobs. I have a simple plan that will cut our carbon dioxide emissions and clean up our filthy intersections, especially in Taipei. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read through my ideas.

The focus of my frustration, and your opportunity, is scooter commuters. There are many street corners in Taipei where scooter drivers have to wait more than a minute for the light to change. Their scooters are idling during this time, filling the air with all kinds of harmful pollution and nasty chemicals. It’s almost as disgusting as street-level pollution in Hong Kong.

Economists and scientists believe that Earth’s oil supply may have hit its peak, and that gas prices can only go up in the long term. Taiwanese drivers should not, therefore, take a single drop of gasoline for granted. And everyone, everywhere, needs to re-examine convenience-oriented lifestyles and change wasteful habits.

I propose a NT$1 “sin tax” on every liter of gas. The money gathered would be used to fund alternative energy sources and grassroots environmental movements. Though a higher price for gas may elicit protests, it will also encourage motorists to think twice when wasting gasoline.

When I ride my motorcycle, I turn it off whenever I’m not moving, and the savings add up remarkably quickly, a habit that would offset the sin tax. To create better air quality in Taipei, all drivers should do the same. The simple answer is to turn your engine off while idling at intersections — an action that will not damage a scooter that has been running for 10 minutes.

Also, scooters that emit white smoke or don’t start when they are supposed to should be taken to the nearest shop for repairs.

To make this plan sustainable, I suggest that you put the following objectives into action: Find a spokesperson for the movement, who would receive a salary from the sin tax fund. This person should recruit unemployed college graduates to build awareness by developing a Web site so that stakeholders can communicate. These new employees would be responsible for recruiting street-level activists, thereby creating more jobs, who would remind scooter polluters that leaving engines running at intersections is wrong in so many ways.

To make the process transparent, all finances and transactions from the sin tax should be published on the Web, including payments to all involved and other expenses.

This plan doesn’t require a complex network of politicians. It requires real people, living in Taiwan, who want to share the air. Let’s make this happen for a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

I’m hoping that you, President Ma, will turn this idea into a reality. In the face of climate change, failing to take action on this issue is like saying that we don’t care. Immediate action for progressive change will help our environment immediately.


Yonghe, Taipei County