Profiteering from the end of the world as we know it

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 February, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong's lack of planning for reducing carbon emissions confronts us all: yet everyone in a position to do something significant about it fears damage to the bottom line. US President George W. Bush's pie-in-the-sky solution to solar radiation is distracting and wrong. Industry think-tanks still preach that crazy environmentalist conspirators want hair shirts for all and that man-made global warming is their fraud, while attempts to communicate the science are suppressed or deliberately distorted by oil-funded apparatchiks.

Machiavellian opinion recommends industry wisely adapt to global warming rather than 'waste money on unproven mitigation', such as reducing emissions. Hong Kong wants a third runway at Chek Lap Kok, more cars and roads! Meanwhile, industry strategists wait for polar ice to melt so they can start drilling. Some 'entrepreneurs' have already bought icebound northern Canadian ports in anticipation of a thaw. And so on. Sadly, these self-interested dinosaurs ignore the big picture, mindful only of opportunities to profit, share prices and, of course, bonuses.

Corporate law prohibits change for community well-being. Consequently, our petro-energy-dependent food production (meat, grain, fish), air, water and physical environments - the life-support webs that sustain us - are collapsing. If you cut the threads in a piece of lace, what happens?

Biofuels increase food prices, tropical deforestation and erosion, and occupy arable land. For another 10 years of vehicular profligacy we lose half our harbour, and half the rainforest. Then what? Sell boats? Corporate and even personal carbon credits and emissions trading will have little impact without serious caps, but this is already too little, too late.

I want to be optimistic but, without replacing the outmoded 'infinite growth' scenario and everyone using less of everything, now, we face a dire future very soon. The laws of physics trump the laws of economics.

The British government is calling for a 90 per cent cut in emissions. What about HKSAR Inc? I challenge Hong Kong companies to show seriously creative and significant environmental leadership - not just the usual greenwash - before the year's end and all households to reduce fuel bills by 20 per cent. Any takers?