Lai See

Greens burn up over 'dinosaur technology'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 February, 2013, 4:53am

The environmental group Clear The Air is maintaining the pressure on the government to abandon plans to build an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau. The group's chairman, James Middleton, has sent a letter to the Legislative Council's environmental affairs panel urging it not to approve funding for what he terms "outdated dinosaur technology".

Plans for a traditional mass-burn incinerator were shelved last year to allow the new administration to rethink its strategy for waste management.

Clear The Air's letter makes the case for plasma gasification technology, which converts waste to syngas that can be used to generate electricity or converted into other fuels such as jet fuel. British Airways' Green Skies Project is one of 10 such projects being commissioned to convert municipal solid waste into jet fuel.

"It is time for the Hong Kong government to realise that technology has advanced since the decision to use MBT [mass-burn technology] was taken in the absence of legislating mandatory recycling measures, bite the bullet handed to them by the previous non-performing Tsang administration and ENB minister and move on with the gasification technology; this will also make redundant the current medical waste/carcass incinerator at Stonecutters for alternative development as an additional benefit."

The letter also highlights the dangers associated with incineration that have been noted in other countries.

"There is already enough clinical evidence of deaths and cancers caused to populations downwind of incinerators with more reports in the pipeline," the letter says. The government has said privately that it will look at the various technologies available for disposing of Hong Kong's waste.


Way to go

We have been sent a reference to Indian woman Kiran Bedi, one of whose claims to fame is being India's first woman police officer. After a career in which she acquired a reputation for outspokenness, she retired from the force in 2007 after applying for the post of Delhi police commissioner, only for the job to go to a man junior to her.

One of her actions stands out in relation to Hong Kong, which earned her the nickname "Crane Bedi". This was after she had former prime minister Indira Gandhi's car towed away for being parked illegally.

In a recent programme on CNN she said: "VIPs in India get away with blue murder because of the failure of the legal system, the police, the politicians and the judiciary".

Now, obviously Hong Kong differs from India in many respects, but some of this sounds all too familiar, given the illegal parking problem that is happily more or less ignored by the authorities. If we do the police an injustice in saying that it is ignored, perhaps we should just say it is out of control.


Island history

Thang Dinh Tan is a Vietnamese man who has lived in the US for some years and has an abiding interest in Vietnamese antiquities. Last year he started collecting old maps. He has 150 old Chinese maps, some of which go back to the 17th century, and three ancient atlases, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

As readers will know, old Chinese maps are of interest these days given the mainland's claim to "indisputable sovereignty" over the Paracel and Spratly islands, or in Chinese, Xisha and Nansha, in the disputed South China Sea. Tran said that 80 of the maps and the atlases showed the frontier of southern China to be Hainan Island, while 50 maps indicate the Paracel and Spratly islands belong to Vietnam.

While not conclusive proof of the islands' ownership, the maps at least show the mainland's view of their status was by no means universally acknowledged in days gone by.


And finally, some good news

Beer drinkers may be interested to know that new research says that the beer gut is a myth. The research, sponsored by the industry, claims beer has nutritional and well-being benefits similar to wine when consumed in moderation, The Telegraph reports. Beer has fewer calories per 100ml than wine, spirits, and even orange juice, it is claimed. But more than half of adults don't know how many calories there are in beer or wine, and 74 per cent of women overestimate the calorie content of beer.


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