Letters to the Editor, March 31, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 March, 2013, 2:08am

Sensible law required on light pollution

A study by the University of Hong Kong has revealed how serious a problem light pollution has become in Hong Kong ("Light pollution in HK 'worst on planet'", March 20).

The worst reading taken by the survey team at the Space Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui was "1,200 times the International Astronomical Union standard".

It is clear that legislation is required to deal with this problem, although some say passing laws is a complex process and adopting a voluntary approach is a good compromise.

However, with so many stakeholders involved, it is difficult to reach a consensus. Some businesses will argue that they would lose sales if they had to switch off external lights after 11pm.

By opposing controls they ignore the health risks to citizens from light pollution such as disruption to the body clock.

I agree with those environmental groups which argue that the situation will not improve without legislation.

Any law should strike the right balance so the interests of business people are taken into account and regulations are put in force which deal effectively with the problem.

Janice Leung, Ma On Shan


Danger in LED bulbs more than 'gossip'

I refer to the letter by Ralph Bishop ("Don't buy into the myth of 'toxic' LEDs", March 24) in reply to my letter ("Clear evidence 'green lighting' is harmful", March 17).

He is unenlightened about actual medical findings when he tries to dismiss as "gossip" medical evidence that compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED light bulbs are harmful to human health.

Mr Bishop claims there is no medical evidence linking CFL and LEDs to ill health. My letter provided references to doctors, optometrists and patients showing that CFL and LED lighting cause mental and physical harm to humans.

And I did not say LEDs contain mercury. It is CFLs that contain mercury vapour and other cancer-causing toxins. LEDs contain a number of other toxins, namely arsenic, lead and a dozen more potentially hazardous substances which have been linked to various cancers, brain damage, hypertension, skin rashes, and other illnesses.

People are not being informed about the harmful toxins, flicker rates, radiation and light spectrum from CFL and LED bulbs. This is why all bulbs need proper labelling for all toxins and all aspects of performance.

Rather than looking at 60-watt bulbs running for a few hours a day in homes, those genuinely concerned about reducing energy consumption should focus on 2,300-watt air conditioners and CFLs left running all day in poorly designed shopping malls, offices and government buildings.

Those campaigning to ban incandescent bulbs should reduce their own energy consumption by giving up luxury items such as cars, plane trips and air conditioning.

A number of people need incandescent lighting, and they often have lifestyles that consume far less energy than the jet-setting socialites wanting to force their CFLs and LEDs on everyone else.

Those dismissing, as gossip, specific medical evidence that CFL and LED lighting harms some humans are ill-informed.

Dr Robert Hanson Tseung Kwan O


Wearing fur is no worse than eating meat

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not women should wear fur coats.

Fur coats have been popular fashion items for a very long time. They make women look attractive and I do not see what is wrong with them.

Critics say that it is cruel to kill animals for their fur. However, many of these same people see nothing wrong with the killing of millions of animals every year for their meat.

Why don't those groups and individuals who mount protests over people who wear fur stand outside restaurants and butcher shops?

I am also concerned that some activists go too far and take actions which are violent in nature. When protesting they will sometimes ruin someone's fur coat. So if you object to a particular book, is it justifiable to tear it up even though someone else sees nothing wrong with reading it?

People are entitled to their views and they are equally entitled to wear clothes made out of fur if they wish and they have the money to pay for them.

Protesters who damage or ruin someone's property such as a fur coat, set a bad example to young people who might think such actions are acceptable.

There are better ways for these activists to make their point.

Winnie Kwan, Ho Man Tin


Caverns plan a good way to free up land

I refer to the report about the consultation process for the government's possible cavern development and six reclamation schemes ("Caverns could free up extra land for homes", March 22).

I support the idea and believe that it can relieve our land shortage problems.

Hong Kong is a densely-populated city and governments have always found housing issues difficult to deal with.

The limited amount of land available has contributed to rocketing property prices, affecting many residents. The government's proposals over caverns and reclamation are a response to demands from Hongkongers to deal with our housing problems.

If public facilities are moved inside caverns in hillsides, the administration will be able to make more efficient use of precious land resources.

The whole process may be time-consuming but reclamation is also a strategy that I would support as a long-term way of alleviating shortages on the property market.

Critics have argued it will be too expensive and that reclamation could threaten some marine species.

On the second point, it is important to strike the right balance between protecting the environment and development needs.

The administration will have to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment to see if any planned reclamation project could cause irreparable damage to marine organisms. Officials will also have to ensure that the caverns are properly ventilated so that they do not pose a public health risk.

The simple truth is there is growing public discontent and our housing policies have to change.

Cathy Li, Tsuen Wan


Tung Chung development makes sense

I think the proposal to develop a new commercial zone on Lantau, at Tung Chung, as a way of diverting tourists from some of Hong Kong's most overcrowded districts is feasible and has a number of advantages.

Tung Chung is perfectly located near Hong Kong International Airport.

Many visitors arriving by air would be likely to come to this new town, because it is so convenient.

It would save them time compared to travelling to the centre of the city.

There is also room for development in the Tung Chung area given that there has been little expansion the last 10 years. At present it is well below the final target population.

This means there is plenty of room for visitors and for the development of a new commercial zone which would attract them.

This zone would also help local residents. The town is some distance from urban Hong Kong and Tung Chung residents have to endure long commute times if they work on Hong Kong Island or in Kowloon side.

With new shopping malls there would be a lot more job opportunities for these local people. But obviously a commercial zone in Tung Chung would need the support of these residents to ensure that it was feasible.

Susie Li Po-yi, Tai Wai


Recycle items taken away in black bags

I read with interest your report regarding the government's subcontracted staff mixing together separated waste for recycling in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay ("Cleaners dump waste for recycling", March 17).

In Mui Wo, on Lantau, I have also seen this practice at the rubbish collection point.

When I asked staff why they were taking rubbish from the metal, plastic and paper recycling bins and putting them all together in black bin bags, they responded that they take these bags back to their offices to separate again. This claim seems implausible.

I find this situation very frustrating, particularly as washing, separating and recycling rubbish takes considerable effort and time on the part of the public.

These efforts are wasted, it seems, because the subcontracted rubbish collectors do not appreciate the importance of minimising damage to our planet, and reducing waste in landfills.

Perhaps the government should have better control over subcontractors, or should at least make it their responsibility to educate those involved in rubbish collection.

Esther Houghton, Lantau