Population control is essential
I refer to the report ('Seven-billionth babies celebrated', November 1). While the birth of these individual children is wonderful for their parents, I doubt that Mother Earth will be celebrating.
A fundamental natural force motivates all life forms to maximise the presence of their own species.
However, humans' unique ability to control our own environment has allowed us to aggressively expand our habitat into almost all areas of our planet and accordingly the world's population has grown exponentially.
This has led to the dramatic demise of other species.
Humanity is in conflict with the holistic Gaia principle, whereby nature promotes inter-reliant diversity which stabilises and strengthens the life of the planet. I find the statistic that the number of humans has doubled in my lifetime frightening. Surely quality is more important than quantity.
It is doubtful that our children's quality of life will match our own, and it is almost certain that our grandchildren's will not. The earth will balance and optimise, but if we are clever we will rein in our own aggressive destabilisation.
Humanity should consider that the earth can live without humans, but humans cannot live without the earth. Worldwide population control is an absolute imperative.
Frank Lee, Mid-Levels
Emphasis on family planning
One terrifying aspect of Halloween this year was the fact that the world's population had reached seven billion. This is something we should be genuinely scared about.
Within 50 years, the world's population has doubled.
There are a number of reasons for this.
Thanks to improvements in food production technology and health care, more babies survive and people live longer.
But despite the advances, for example, in agricultural techniques, there are limits.
There is only so much land on our planet.
If the population keeps increasing, then there will be more people struggling to have enough resources to live.
Efforts to successfully promote family planning in Africa and countries like India must be stepped up.
Hoiz Au, Tai Wai
Time to clean up capital's filthy air
The central government must do something to improve the air quality in Beijing as the pollution levels may have a serious effect on the health of the residents of the capital.
In 2008, during the Olympics, China won the admiration of the world. In order to present a good image internationally, efforts were made to improve air quality during the course of the Games.
However, that is no longer the case and dense smog often blankets the city.
I understand that as the host China recognised it had a responsibility to ensure a clean environment for the athletes, but the authorities should have continued to care about air quality after the Games had ended.
It is no secret that Beijing's air quality has markedly deteriorated since the 2008 Olympics.
The government has become lackadaisical about this problem and the dirty air is affecting the health of Beijing people, especially children and the elderly.
Environmentalists say the situation has been made worse by a lack of transparency on the part of the government when it comes to monitoring pollution levels.
Beijing must therefore promise greater transparency and establish an index which is made available to citizens.
It must get across the message that it is important to protect the environment because it needs the help and co-operation of Beijing residents in order to create a green city.
In the last few decades the mainland has developed at a rapid pace but in doing so it has ignored the environmental problems.
If it wishes to play a dominant role on the international stage, it must now address these problems.
Nicole Mok Wing-sum, Tsuen Wan
Nationalise rather than privatise?
The [two-day] grounding and shutdown of all Qantas flights highlights a much more serious issue for nations across the world.
At what point does downsizing government and privatising industries that are of national importance become too big a price to pay for the well-being of a country?
Greater efficiency, reduced costs, increasing international competitiveness and the reduction of public sector borrowing are some of the reasons tabled for privatisation of essential services and infrastructure.
In theory these are all practical outcomes, however massive regulatory overhaul within specific privatised industries is required which can often result in unintended consequences for a nation. Qantas has held an almost monopolistic position over air travel in Australia since privatisation in 1993.
Air travel (Qantas) being fully operational 24/7 is an issue of crucial national interest.
Australia is geographically remote to the rest of the world and is much dependent on transport for continued economic growth and its connectivity to the developing countries of Asia. Tourism is a huge case in point, and after the natural disasters of the last 12 months, even more critical.
Of equal significance to Australia and other countries watching on the sidelines with one dominant airline monopoly, is that of national security. There is no greater incidence of this than having 17 Commonwealth leaders in one city (Perth) as the national carrier ceased to fly.
Developed countries have rushed to privatise assets such as airlines, airports and multiple infrastructure and essential services over the last decade. Could we be entering a 'new normal' where in the interests of continuing globalisation and avoiding Qantas-type dislocations, we move back to nationalisation of certain industries?
Jamie Spence, Repulse Bay
Pupils can take critical approach
I refer to the controversy over the proposal by the government to introduce compulsory national education in our schools.
Critics have said this would be tantamount to brainwashing with young people being forced to accept communist ideas.
I think pupils should have an understanding of developments in our motherland. Depending how the curriculum is designed, this course could have a very positive influence on pupils.
For example, they could learn the truth about the Cultural Revolution, that it was an epoch of ignorance rather than a glorious episode in our history.
So often, pupils just try to memorise important dates and names of kings, emperors and prominent officials.
With this course they could actually analyse the past and think about what happened. It can help us to understand that it takes time for a country to move towards democracy.
A national education course can enable us to look at the positive aspects of the past and the errors, and by recognising mistakes that were made, hopefully they will not be repeated.
This is not brainwashing. It is a means of enabling young people to think critically and independently.
Secondary school pupils are mature enough to be able to distinguish between right and wrong and to analyse the policies of governments.
Youngsters in Hong Kong have become very indifferent towards the situation in their motherland.
They need to appreciate how much the country has been through and not just look at the past, but learn from it.
Charleen Poon, Tsuen Wan
Why workers need wage increases
It has been reported that many employees in Hong Kong will receive pay rises of about 5 per cent next year. However, some people have argued that they will need an 8 per cent increase because of soaring prices in the city.
Employers should pay attention to the basic needs of workers. These employees work hard to earn a living and they will need increases of at least 8 per cent.
Getting an 8 per cent increase will be just enough to cope with the effects of inflation. But we cannot predict future prices of commodities, so a wage rise above 8 per cent would be a big help.
The owners of many companies will record substantial profits at the end of the financial year and they should be willing to share some of this money with people who are less well off.
Peter Cheung, Sha Tin