Climate change

No need to wait like sheep for leadership on climate change

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am

I take strong exception to your view in a recent editorial that the US is not taking action on climate change ('US must take lead in tackling climate change', February 3). Although the Bush administration pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, 393 mayors from 50 states representing more than 57 million Americans have pledged to cut greenhouse gases by signing up their cities to follow the agreement. The mayor of Los Angeles was in Hong Kong recently and explained what his city was doing. US mayors, and US states, are not waiting like sheep for the Bush administration, and neither should we.

Our elected district councillors - and the people who voted for them - do not have to wait for the Tsang administration to see the light. Every district can start with an inventory of greenhouse gases generated right where we live, work and go to school - and draw up a plan to deal with them.

For anyone interested in fighting climate change, I say: don't listen to the view that the US government must take the lead. Every district council can independently assert that we, in Hong Kong, can take action and can start using the extraordinary skills in our professional ranks and the grass-roots concern among people who want to live a healthy life.

This is our city, and we have a responsibility - and the ability - to take action right here, right now. It is up to us to go to our district councils and show them what is needed, leading by example.


Resource depletion and environmental degradation are the inevitable results of human existence. Our understandable aspiration to comfort and security seems inexorable. However, a considerable amount of consumption and pollution can be avoided without noticeable impact on our daily lives.

Conceit, complacency, ignorance and politics have created enormous excess and wastefulness that many people regard - somewhat ostentatiously - as hallmarks of modern, affluent societies. Governments and corporations alike practise gross overspecification in the name of safety, or simply to minimise potential liabilities in a litigious culture shaped by greed, rather than a love of justice. Creation of activities for the sake of activity also carries hidden environmental costs. Millions of people living in hectic cities are busy every day being busy, and putting pressure on others to behave likewise.

We could be using much less of our resources to support an adequate degree of comfort, convenience and psychological assurance on this overpopulated planet if we let intelligence take precedence over vanity. Unfortunately, we're doing the opposite. The consequence is accelerated environmental damage that benefits nobody, and threatens to set off nature's ruthless balancing act upon us sooner than we thought.

JAMES TAM, Mid-Levels