Letters | South China Morning Post
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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2009, 12:00am

Energy saving bulbs do not live up to name

Regarding Michael R. K. Mudd's letter ('We must opt for energy- saving light bulbs', December 27), the record must be set straight as to their 'environmentally friendly' credentials.

Energy efficient they may be but this does not make them good for the environment or for humans to be in contact with.

Energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps contain poisonous substances including mercury. Contact with mercury is harmful to health and, even where contact is not direct, should these bulbs be thrown into a normal waste bin the mercury could find its way back into the food chain.

Government guidelines in England and America recommend that these light bulbs be disposed of in double thickness plastic bags and specially recycled. Should a bulb break, government advice is to leave the room for 15 minutes, clear it up with rubber gloves and put the pieces in a sealed glass jar before taking them to specially designated local authority tips.

A fundamental problem with these compact fluorescent light bulbs is that, being a gas discharge lamp, they cannot generate the full spectrum of light of a traditional light bulb. Even extra coatings of phosphate to these compact light bulbs show limited improvements. Additional coatings also reduce their efficiency.

Further, these compact light bulbs only save energy if run for long periods of time. Tests have shown that if only kept on for short periods they at best use the same amount of energy and at worst can actually use more than the traditional bulb. As they age, the efficiency of the compact bulbs is reduced whereas traditional light bulbs have a constant efficiency level throughout their lifespan. The compact light bulbs use between 3.5 and 11 times more resources to manufacture than the traditional bulb.

Tests have shown that some people, under a compact light bulb, can experience a number of skin irritations and tiredness.

Energy efficient light bulbs may reduce energy used when switched on and help governments meet their carbon dioxide emission targets. However, they are not environmentally friendly when their full costs are assessed, nor are they healthy.

Robert Hanson, PhD researcher, Bartlett school of the built environment, University of London

Professionals should lead way

I refer to the report ('Lawmakers concerned a limit on green features will stifle creativity', December 20) and fail to understand just how creativity will be stifled as it flourishes in response to restrictions.

It appears what these Legco members (given their constituencies of architects, planners, surveyors and real estate developers) are really concerned about is potential loss of the bonus gross floor area that allows developers to greatly amplify the size of their projects (and thus their profits) in our already overcrowded urban areas. These professionals in the development industry should be in advance of society in raising building standards and in introducing environmentally friendly design.

It should not be necessary for our government to give incentives to drag developers into the 21st century. Conversely 'green' standards should become mandatory.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor should be commended for critically examining these 'green features' which, to the public, seem more like 'grey areas' that leave the door open to collusion.

Christian Rogers, Mid-Levels

Tam lets down constituency

I was dismayed by lawmaker Samson Tam Wai-ho's remark objecting to the proposed changes to the Privacy Ordinance on the grounds that 'a data processor may not know if the personal data had been intercepted when it was transferred through the internet' ('Privacy watchdog in bid to plug loophole', December 24).

As the representative of the IT functional constituency, Mr Tam should be aware that personal data transferred across the internet should be encrypted, precisely to protect against interception.

As a voter in Mr Tam's constituency, I think that IT professionals taking the role of data processor for personal data should insist on proper procedures and measures to protect the data in their care, including encrypting data in transit. Past events have shown that some IT workers are lax.

For that reason, Mr Tam should be leading our profession and he should be supporting laws that mandate the protection that our society needs for personal data.

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang

Hamas acting inhumanely

Dyutimoy Chakraborty says Israel 'must be persuaded to combat aggression in a humane way' ('Israel's response is deplorable', December 31).

Israel has never declared that it wants to wipe out Palestinian civilians the way Hamas wants to obliterate Israel from the map. People who follow events in the Middle East know that Israel's main aim is to put an end to the rockets that Hamas keeps lobbing across the border to kill ordinary Israelis.

I queried an arms expert who told me that the rocket launchers Hamas uses are mobile machines that can be moved around, hence are difficult to pin down. Those killing machines are variously placed among their civilian communities, near homes, schools and hospitals so as to gain as much negative publicity as possible for the Israelis. Who is being humane here?

I understand what Israel has been going through. If a large mosquito keeps biting me, I will swat it instantly - it is self-preservation plain and simple. The Hamas combatants should come to their senses, stop dicing with death and instead have a dialogue with their adversaries.

Beatriz Taylor, Cheung Chau

Point missed

I have found Roger Phillips' letter ('Misinterpreting meaning of laws', December 30) very misleading.

He is actually misinterpreting the meaning of the anti-discrimination laws. Such laws do not only protect people with naturally inherited traits such as race. And I also disagree with his point that homosexuals should not be covered under the laws because homosexuality is a personal choice.

Discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly because they happen to belong to a particular group of people or have a particular characteristic and has nothing to do with naturally inherited traits.

Anti-discrimination laws therefore should cover more than race, sex and family status. They should also cover religion, age, marital status, disability and of course sexual preference.

Also, it is wrong for Mr Phillips to compare homosexuality with infidelity, paedophilia and prostitution.

Michael Fok, Discovery Bay

Test assurance

Illegal drug use has increased in Hong Kong, particularly in the 13 to 18 age group.

For this reason I think it is important to have compulsory drug testing in schools.

We need to ensure that schools enjoy a drug-free environment. If schools do not implement this policy, the problem will only get worse.

It is important that parents should know their children are attending drug-free schools.

Chan Lai-man, Fanling


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