Picture this: Tourists visiting one of your city's most prominent attractions are unable to see it because of smog, haze and a bevy of other airborne pollutants.
What's the solution? Erect a backdrop for visitors to pose in front of. One that's impervious to pollution and projects an image of the city as always sunny and full of clean air. Welcome to Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, where bright banners of the city's skyline block the view of its gray, polluted, real-world counterpart.
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Tourists from mainland China take photos in front of a large outdoor banner showing what Hong Kong looks like on a clean air day, in Hong Kong, China, Aug. 21, 2013. Hong Kong's Air Pollution Index reached 'Very High' in Central and Western District, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, with 'very high' levels of toxic ozone and nitrogen dioxide recorded at roadside monitoring stations.
The Atlantic calls it a "perfect solution," then cautions, "so long as the actual, gray sky doesn't creep into the shot."
Shanghaiist notes the backdrops appeared in late August, on account of abnormally severe haze, and wonders why a similar display isn't available year-round on The Bund, a heavily-touristed waterway in central Shanghai.
Hong Kong's harbor is one of the world's busiest ports. As freighters that dock there burn "bunker fuel," a heavily polluting power source, it follows that Hong Kong would face serious air pollution problems.
Adding to the trouble: Hong Kong permits the docking of ships that burn fuel with up to 3.5 percent sulfur content. According to an early-2013 AFP report, Europe and North America generally restrict fuels to 1 percent or less sulfur content.
The end result, Simon Ng, of the Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong think-tank, told AFP, "Ships are now producing a lot more pollutants than we had anticipated, and it is becoming a major problem that we need to address."
CLARIFICATION: Pollution in Hong Kong was particularly bad during this time as Tropical Storm Trami made landfall in nearby Taiwan. The storm decreased winds which normally disperse pollution in the city.