Save the Eclipse: An Open Letter to the Honorable Han Zheng, Mayor of Shanghai

Dear Mr. Mayor:

As you are no doubt aware, the longest eclipse of the century will pass over your city on Wednesday morning. This singular event is not exclusive to Shanghai, of course: the narrow path will wind over much of Asia, into the Pacific. But, needless to say, international media organziations with an interest in covering this singular event aren’t going to station their cameras in, say, backwater Chongqing. No, they want to cover the century’s longest eclipse from the Century’s City; they want to cover it from Shanghai. Thus, whether you planned for it or not, you and your colleagues at City Hall are now faced with an unprecedented opportunity to promote Shanghai’s image to the world.

Unfortunately, it has come to my atttention that forces outside of China are conspiring to spoil this eclipse and Shanghai’s opportunity to shine on the world stage. I am, of course, referring to the jet stream. According to a briefing prepared by your city’s dilligent and devoted metereologists, and posted to the official Shanghai website: “Dense cloud threatens to keep eclipse watchers in the dark.

[UPDATED July 20: The City of Shanghai website appears to have resigned itself to clouds and rain.]

Sir, this is a PR disaster in the making. Do you really want camera crews broadcasting darkening rain clouds over, say, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, when viewers in, say – Minneapolis – expect to see the moon’s disc obscuring the sun’s? Are you willing to tolerate the national humiliation of watching CNN resort to, say, footage of the eclipse taken in Japan (where “maximum eclipse” will actually last longer than in Shanghai), rather than at the Yangshan Deep Water Port? Me. Neither.

So, with humility, I offer a solution. Continue reading