Act on environmental catastrophe
On May 10, on his blog Al's Journal, former US vice-president Al Gore wrote, "Yesterday, for the first time in human history, concentrations of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, hit 400 parts per million in our planet's atmosphere."
He said that every day we poured an additional 90 million tonnes "of global warming pollution into the sky as if it were an open sewer".
Gore also said that according to top climate scientist Jim Hansen, "the accumulated man-made global warming pollution in the atmosphere now traps enough extra heat energy each day to equal the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs exploding every single day".
It is now time to introduce carbon emission-saving laws in Hong Kong. I would put forward four proposals which could be implemented easily and immediately to help limit Hong Kong's contribution of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
Firstly, we should follow Paris and introduce a 1am light curfew for advertising hoardings and empty offices. The move will cut carbon dioxide emissions in Paris by 250,000 tonnes a year and save €17 million (HK$171 million). Also, Hong Kong's street lighting should be solar powered.
Secondly, cancel the Shek Kwu Chau incineration technology proposed by the Environmental Protection Department and adopt a gasification plant which can output energy stored as syngas or another biofuel. It reduces fossil fuel consumption and there is no need to connect to the local grid.
Thirdly, introduce renewable energy incentives for residents, with solar panels and proper insulation being legally required for all new buildings. Permission should be granted for wind turbines on village houses. Local utilities should accept energy excess to be fed back into the grid. Officials should investigate tidal power for the outlying islands.
Fourthly, the administration must encourage community composting. It is a huge waste of fossil-fuel and landfill space moving biodegradable, organic matter from outlying islands and country parks to distant landfills. When bagged, organic matter no longer degrades but still occupies the same physical volume in the landfill. Instead, save fuel, cut fossil fuel emissions and save space by leaving it in the country parks in compost piles to break down into enriched soil to be used by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department or local farmers.
We have no choice and must all - as individuals and civic government - see limiting the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change as our priority.
Tania Willis, Lantau