EVEN as green guru Professor David Bellamy was wishing ''200 or 300 Hong Kongs and Singapores'' could be set up in China, Friends of the Earth was busy compiling a long list of reasons not to live in the territory. ''If I had to live in a city, I would choose Hong Kong,'' the media personality and biological boffin said. As his words hit the headlines, half of Hong Kong looked around, wondering if he was talking about the same place. Professor Bellamy referred specifically to good public transport, culture, food, entertainment and shopping, saying they made the ''city very livable and a model for others''. Let us take them one by one. The Mass Transit Railway Corporation announced last week that it had carried its sixth billionth passenger since the first train on September 30, 1979. On any given day at rush hour it seems like all six billion are riding the system at the same time. Steel-plated elbow pads are needed to board trams. Buses - both the double-deckers and the mini-buses - are fine but from an environmental viewpoint are far from friendly. The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has identified buses as major air polluters and aims to switch them from diesel to petrol. However, a recent survey concluded that large trucks might be the biggest polluters on the roads. Fringe and Arts Festival organisers do their best to provide an annual bout of culture, but this is still a place that shows sexist advertisements like those for liquor, which would be laughed off the screen in most other developed societies. Pagers and mobile phones continuously disturb audiences glued to the latest plethora of guts and glory movies. On the stage, Cats is the brightest option the territory has to offer. Perhaps Professor Bellamy had seafood in mind when he referred to the territory's culinary delights. If so, he had obviously missed the succession of stories over the past two years warning of the dangers of eating Hong Kong's molluscs, fish and crustaceans. Independent laboratory tests on seafood commissioned by the Sunday Morning Post found dangerous levels of cadmium, mercury, lead and other toxins which overseas studies had linked to birth defects. Then there are the stories of vegetable crops in China being sprayed with dangerous pesticides before being exported to Hong Kong. All of this precludes recent environmental disasters, such as: the death of thousands of fish at Stonecutters Island after an outpouring of sewage; medical waste floating in the sea before washing up on the territory's beaches; once clean rivers that have turned purple as factories dump tonnes of dye into them; air pollution levels that exceed the safety limit; and, reclamation dredging that is destroying marine life. Friends of the Earth director Mei Ng said: ''We have no idea what David Bellamy is talking about. Things haven't got better at all. Hong Kong is not a blueprint for anywhere. ''There is every kind of pollution you can imagine, air, water, noise, and it's everywhere. The number of children admitted to hospital with asthma has doubled in the past five years,'' she said. In contrast, the professor's comments four years ago could hardly have been more scathing. He told a group of local businessmen in 1990 that low production costs encouraged prosperity at the expense of the environment. High-density populations living next to heavy industry were a disaster in the waiting, he railed. But return visits seemed to have changed his mind: ''I have been through Hong Kong a number of times since then and I think there are great lights on the horizon.'' Either Professor Bellamy didn't get further than Kai Tak on his visits or he walked round with his eyes closed. The Sunday Morning Post accompanied Friends of the Earth campaigners to Kwai Chung, where within minutes we found colossal examples of high-density populations still living next to heavy industry. At regular intervals factory chimneys spewed out thick black smoke, foul smelling fumes induced instant headaches, and in one case, bright red water tumbled over the walls of a dying plant, down a hillside and into a drain leading to the harbour. The professor does acknowledge the territory has some problems: ''It's a very exciting place. I wish the marine and noise pollution problems could be abated, but there are things in the pipeline.'' IT is presumed the improvements Professor Bellamy refers to are the final gazetting of the harbour legislation and recent legislation to reduce construction noise. He was also reportedly impressed by the ''amazing'' plans for sewage disposal, whereby partially treated sewage will be piped 35 kilometres out into the South China Sea. Unfortunately, an environmental study is yet to be done on this project and the financial arrangements have not been confirmed by the Chinese. It is many years away from completion and green groups have serious reservations about it. The facts challenging Professor Bellamy's assertions go on. EPD statistics predict air quality in the territory will deteriorate by 50 per cent by the end of the decade. It is estimated that presently more than half the population is subjected to sub-standard air quality. Victoria Harbour is now one of the top 10 most polluted in the world, with an E-coli count 1,000 times above accepted international levels. In addition, some of our beach water is the equivalent of partially treated raw sewage. Of the estimated two million tonnes of sewage and industrial effluent discharged each day into Hong Kong's waters, only 10 per cent receives biological treatment, 40 per cent is ''screened'' to break up visually offensive material - and 50 per cent is not treated at all. Hepatitis A cases in 1992 are triple the number for either 1990 or 1991. By the age of 50, 90 per cent of the territory's population will carry the virus. In most developed countries the average is 50 per cent. In 1992, there were 2,376 public noise complaints to the EPD and 2,774 air complaints, which together accounted for 88 per cent of all complaints made. In 1992, there was a 12 per cent increase in the number of new car registrations, making 270 vehicles for every one of the territory's 1,560 kilometres of road. Professor Bellamy's comments have even left the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers scratching their heads. The organisation is sponsoring the green guru to speak at an internationally attended urban pollution conference in Beijing in November. The institute's secretary, John Boyd, says: ''By and large, no, I don't think Hong Kong is an environmental role model. But there is an increased awareness of the problem. ''I would like to think Professor Bellamy was referring to Hong Kong's intentions rather than its present condition. ''I wouldn't have expected him to paint such a rosy picture, in isolation, and the problem is it could discredit him for being out of touch,'' he said. ''Hong Kong has a long way to go to clean up its act, but has gone a long way to recognise the sort of sums that have to be spent, which are in the billions.''