Letters to the Editor, April 14, 2013
Nature, not man, behind wild weather
The report by Amy Nip on wild weather ('Expect storms, says world's weatherman', March 24), is somewhat misleading.
Storm forecasting requires a fully multi-disciplinary approach including a good understanding of earth sciences, since we are dealing with interactions between components of the earth's systems.
It is necessary to identify the most important factor or factors triggering storms based on the available evidence. Before this is carried out, it is wrong to link the occurrence of extreme storms to global warming.
The highly active hurricane season affecting the east coast of North America during 2012, which included devastating storms such as Hurricane Sandy, was the consequence of the abnormally warm North Atlantic Ocean.
The surface seawater temperature in this ocean was reported to be some 3 degrees Celsius above normal. This is best explained by the submarine eruption of the El Hierro volcano, located in the western Canary Islands, from October 2011 to March 2012.
The cause is therefore natural. Heating of the seawater has nothing to do with the greenhouse effect induced by man-made carbon emissions.
The warm North Atlantic Ocean also accounts for the abnormally wet 2012 in Britain - the second wettest year since records began. A warm ocean was favourable to the generation of numerous frontal activity storms associated with heavy rainfall in the British Isles.
In 2010, following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, a succession of frontal activity storms associated with heavy rainfall penetrated central Europe.
Countries affected by severe flooding within two to three weeks of the main eruption on April 14, 2010 included Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In Slovakia, the rainfall made it the wettest since records began in 1881.
Volcanic eruptions on land and on the seafloor are therefore both underestimated natural causes of storms. They have to be taken into consideration to improve weather forecasting because of their possible role in atmospheric temperature and pressure changes as well as the redistribution of water vapour.
Wyss Yim, Pok Fu Lam
Hostility to Kim smacks of self-interest
While the US appears most "belligerent" in the current Korean crisis, are the American people or the all-powerful multinationals pushing the agenda? Do those wheeler-dealers fear the rise of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) into economic fullness because they note what the more democratic South has achieved even in its limited freedoms, beating Japan in electronics for one?
The wages in North Korea can even undercut those in Bangladesh and Cambodia so, with stability and development in the North, factories would sprout like mushrooms, and business and investment money would flow in and products flow out.
A united Korea is the only real solution to the problem on a worldwide basis. Such a Korea would throw out US troops.
In his new year's speech, supreme leader Kim Jong-un said the DPRK would open its economy for Asian and European partners, including South Korea, Japan and Germany. Who is really listening and giving the fellow credit, and which group is ridiculing the new leader's message - and why?
Tony Henderson, Lantau
High hopes for N Korea prove premature
Today, I thank God for keeping our world safe. North Korea has not fired its missiles in anger.
The actions of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have shocked the world. Having spent his school days overseas, he did not suffer the pains of his fellow North Koreans, instead being educated in neutral, democratic Switzerland.
Being an educated leader, he was expected to bring positive changes to North Korea. Yet we all set our hopes too high.
Now it is an unpredictable region threatening world peace. Let's hope that, together, other countries will be able to stop it from destroying our world.
Cindy Cho, Tseung Kwan O
Scourge of the north Thatcher divided nation
Mark Peaker heaps lavish praise on the recently deceased Margaret Thatcher ('Thatcher not only changed UK, but world', April 10), and one can only assume he was one of those who benefited from her lopsided social experiments.
When he says she was loved and loathed in equal measure, he clearly doesn't understand the full implication of the word loathed. Thatcher, with her biased policies against anyone from Britain north of Birmingham, was hated in Scotland and the north of England.
She destroyed whole communities without a hint of remorse, reduced mothers to despair and proud men to anguish.
She decimated swathes of the north of England and the whole of Scotland by removing admittedly unproductive industries. But, surely, any self- respecting leader would have sought alternative sources of income and education.
She offered tax breaks for companies to move to the home counties, and left the rest of the country mired in bitterness and frustration.
Thatcher's passing will be met with a collective "good riddance" by many people in the UK, who still feel the effects of her polarising policies, and any gushing eulogies will clearly reflect which part of the geographical divide the writer comes from.
Stuart Brookes, Shek Tong Tsui
Rescue pair shine bright at end of tunnel
I write to commend in the strongest possible terms the two staff members of the Tate's Cairn Tunnel Company who came to my rescue when I suffered a puncture in the morning rush hour recently.
As soon as I pulled in to the side of the road just before the tunnel entrance, they instantly sprang into action. Inside 10 minutes, they had cheerfully jacked up the car, changed the tyre and got everything back inside the boot. The much relieved driver was safely on his way, his student passenger in school on time.
They expected only my thanks, and this they most certainly have. Hong Kong spirit at its finest.
Mike Rowse, Mid-Levels
Indonesia an emerging Asian leader
The Asian Development Bank expects Indonesia to be the next leader among Southeast Asian nations ("Growth forecast to rise in emerging Asia", April 9), and it is right to do so.
When the term BRICs (after emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China) was first coined, Indonesia was still recovering from the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and not seen to have great future potential. Ever since, it has had a higher sustained economic growth rate than most BRIC countries.
Also, as expressed through its national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ("Unity in Diversity"), it has created one of the most stable democracies in the region, in a country with the world's fourth-largest population. Its rich natural resources have translated into foreign investment and development.
Most importantly, Indonesia is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, regional player within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
It is the largest Islamic country in the world and recently one of the highest-profile members of Asean in the South China Sea dispute. Indonesia, as the mediator of the conflict, is using its elevated status as a means to attain regional leadership next to another great player in the region, China.
Should we then consider Indonesia as the sixth member of the BRICS (which now includes South Africa), and had we not better start calling it "BRIICS" or "BRICS II"?
Eleni Georgiopoulou, Kennedy Town
Teens should learn how to spend wisely
I refer to the letter by Kate Chan ("Shopping sprees bad for city's teens", March,13).
I hold the same view that consumerism encourages teenagers to spend impulsively. Social media plays an important role, exaggerating the supposed glamour of consumerism. Youngsters are easily influenced to buy items because they think they can become as elegant as the character in the advertisements.
Some may argue that not all young people are so gullible and free-spending, but too many are and even the least affected can be influenced by their friends.
Peer pressure encourages them to buy expensive items to make themselves look more top-notch. This vicious cycle can not end easily.
Parents also bear part of the responsibility, as some simply give their child whatever they ask for.
Many young people therefore do not think carefully before they shop. They just buy what they like, without considering whether it is necessary.
Teens should be more careful spending money.
Serena Chan, Tai Wai