Eco-friendly graduates required
We all know energy is vital for the effective functioning of our society and is a key driver for human development and economic prosperity.
However, the processes used to explore, handle and consume energy are responsible for climate change which not only damages our infrastructures, natural environment and ecosystems, but threatens the survival of humans.
Never before have such challenges become so important worldwide, and they are in fact on the top agenda of every country and region.
The critical question is how enough energy can be produced to sustain economic growth, but, at the same time, the effects on the environment in the production and use of energy can be minimised.
Conversely the carbon footprint in mitigating environmental problems must also be considered.
To help Hong Kong combat climate change, we need energy professionals not only in the civil services and statutory bodies but in all spectrum of business. Our universities should provide holistic education for students, who upon graduation have the ability to:
Discover the multi-disciplinary dimensions of energy and the environment;
Understand the importance of energy supply, demand and security to society and the crucial link between energy and the environment; and
Explore innovative technologies that can generate clean and sustainable energy to address the energy crisis, combat climate change, achieve sustainability and make contributions to the betterment of contemporary society.
C. W. Tso, Tai Po
Establish low-emission zones in city
As David Akers-Jones points out, there are ways the government could facilitate the removal of dirty old buses from our roads ('Get rid of filthy buses with loans', April 30).
The suggestion of bridging loans to allow the bus companies to retire these clunkers a few years early would be a simple, low-cost solution. But the often cited figure of buses accounting for up to 40 per cent of roadside pollution is slightly erroneous as they actually only account for 6 per cent of respirable suspended particulates across Hong Kong.
The higher figure was a Transport Department estimate of the possible contribution to roadside pollution in busy commuting corridors at peak times - essentially the worst-case scenario of the most number of buses on the road when the pavements are full of people going to work.
If the department actually wanted to reduce roadside pollution there is an even cheaper or near-zero cost solution to reduce the effect of dirty buses.
Simply make these busy commuter roads and congested tunnels low-emissions zones at peak times. Not only would this ensure bus firms use the latest Euro engine vehicles, where the most benefit can be derived, it would also stop old commercial diesel vehicles clogging up and polluting these roads during the rush hour.
Edward Rossiter, Tai Wai
People still misusing recycle bins
In the report, 'Give us more bins to boost recycling' (May 2), you say that 'once a recycling bin is contaminated with non-recyclable rubbish, it effectively becomes a conventional bin that will end up in a landfill site'.
But why does it become contaminated?
A few years ago, I had recycle bins installed in my village.
To this day, whenever I take my paper, plastic and metal out, the bins are either filled with ordinary rubbish or the wrong items are in the wrong bins.
On a recent trip, the paper bin was filled with styrofoam lunch boxes with half-eaten food spilling out. I can't decide whether people are lazy, ignorant or just wilfully obtuse.
The bins are clearly labelled and colour coded; you'd think people would have figured out how they work by now.
Randall van der Woning, Tai Po
Council can be effective mediator
I think the Independent Police Complaints Council can play an important role in helping to reconcile disputes which may develop between protesters and police during demonstrations ('Watchdog wants a say on protests', April 23).
For example, the council can discuss with protesters what they can and cannot do, offering appropriate guidelines. And if the activists are unhappy with their treatment during a march, the council can investigate the behaviour of officers and decide if they abused their powers.
Rows between officers and protesters are fairly common and this is understandable.
The demonstrators want their protest to have maximum effect. They are taking action which they hope can eventually lead to changes in society. On the other hand police must consider if a protest would constitute an obstruction.
In general, both parties are trying to do their best for society and are not looking for trouble. The council can play an important role and reconcile any disagreements between the two groups.
Hermes Kwok Nga-man, Sha Tin
Water taxis will not kill off ferries
I don't think a proposed water taxi service in Victoria Harbour will cause financial difficulties for Hong Kong's established ferry companies.
They will be offering separate services for different kinds of passengers. Most commuters will continue to use regular ferry routes. The water taxis will be suitable for those people who want greater privacy or need to reach their chosen destination quickly.
Also, cross-harbour ferry services will still be popular with tourists, as they are one of the highlights of a visit to Hong Kong.
People already have other cross-harbour options such as the MTR, but that has not killed off the ferry firms.
Neil Leung, Sha Tin
Demolition of estate will be a mistake
As Pak Tin Estate in Sham Shui Po is younger than some other public housing estates, I think it is unreasonable for the government to demolish it.
The redeveloped project will generate more income for the government, but it will be bad for the environment.
It is not as old as other public estates and the administration did some refurbishment a few years ago.
The buildings are sound and none of the blocks are near collapse.
Officials should repair them, where necessary, not knock them down.
Arguments that the repairs would be costly do not hold up as tenants could contribute towards the cost of the work.
They would be living in the renovated apartments, so there is nothing wrong with passing on some of the financial burden to them.
If the government wants to have a higher ratio of flats in public housing estates, it could find other ways to achieve this without the complete demolition and rebuilding of Pak Tin.
For example it could find sites to build on in other older districts which are less densely populated.
Tiffany Lee, Sha Tin
Help children to develop good habits
I have noticed an increasing number of young people playing video games on the MTR and buses.
I recently read a study by the American Psychological Association about the impact of video games on young people.
Over three years, researchers collected data from more than 3,000 children, aged eight to 17, at 12 schools in Singapore.
It is well known that the contents of these games (for example, violence) are linked with impulsive acts and attention deficit problems. However, this study showed that the time spent playing games is the critical factor, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status.
It showed that children with greater impulsiveness and attention problems try to spend more time playing video games, which makes their condition worse. Many people had assumed that these problems were caused by biological and genetic factors, but this is not the case.
By understanding some of the environmental influences, we can develop more effective education.
We need to teach our children the importance of acquiring good habits - such as limiting screen time - and also promote a healthier environment for them in the family and in schools.
Miguel Diez, Happy Valley