Letters to the Editor, November 13, 2015
Fossil fuel obsession irresponsible
At next week's G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, just ahead of the critical UN climate summit in Paris, world leaders must take urgent action to cut fossil fuel subsidies.
Despite pledging in 2009 to phase out these subsidies, new research by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International shows that G20 governments are pumping US$452 billion annually into the exploration for and production of fossil fuels.
As three-quarters of known reserves of oil, gas and coal have to stay in the ground if harmful climate change is to be avoided, this use of public funds is not only calamitous for the planet but poor economics too.
Governments can no longer afford to ignore the rising health costs of air pollution, the falling returns on fossil fuel exploration, and the rapid emergence of alternatives from low-cost solar to electric vehicles, which make low-carbon energy systems the smart investment choice.
Some governments have been acting to rein in highly subsidised fossil fuel production, but much more has to be done by leading economies.
Ahead of the Paris summit, a declaration of a robust timetable for action on subsidies would restore the credibility of the G20's pledge.
It would also send a clear message that the largest economies in the world are willing to take the tough decisions necessary to meet the challenge of climate change.
Professor Fan Gang, Peking University and National Economic Research Institute, Beijing; Dr Shenggen Fan, director-general, International Food Policy Research Institute (and eight other leading economists)
No need for hysterics on climate change
It was recently determined that the global warming industry costs us US$1.5 trillion every year and this will result, at best, in a reduction in global temperatures, by 2100, of less than one-fifth of one degree Celsius.
Readers will say that is better than an increase of two to four degrees. But surely that US$1.5 trillion could be put to better use to improve the lives of billions rather than destroy natural habitats and enrich the carbon traders. Perhaps this is why the "warmists" are now extending their dire predictions from a mere 85 years to 200 and even 2,000 years hence.
We are informed that an increase in temperatures by two to four degrees will have a devastating effect on human coastal habitats over the next 200 years, and more likely will manifest itself over the next 2,000 years or more.
And the South China Morning Post online edition decides to scare the living daylights out of readers by showing what the Kowloon waterfront will look like in perhaps 200 years.
These climate scientists and the media can't tell us what the weather will be like next month or next year but 200 to 2,000 years hence and beyond, no problem.
Are we all going mad? Of course the heat is being pumped up just before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.
Has any thought been given to just how much the Paris gathering will cost us taxpayers? Has any thought been given to the massive carbon footprint it will leave behind? Not to worry: it's your money and it's their footprint.
You could not make this up, it is so absurd.
G. Bailey, Ta Kwu Ling
Number four a smart phone solution
Because smartphones are so popular in Hong Kong, the Office of the Communications Authority (Ofca) says that although there are 4.97 million numbers available for mobiles, these could be used up as early as November 2018.
Therefore Ofca proposes to introduce an additional 15.7 million eight-digit mobile-phone numbers next year. This could mean Hongkongers could soon have numbers starting with the digit four.
I would agree with the government adopting this measure and having some new numbers which start with the number four.
I realise it will not be popular with some older citizens as this number in Cantonese sounds similar to the word for death.
However, I think that such views are now changing and most people will accept it so that more phone numbers can be introduced.
I think in the future, new mobile numbers may have to be found with Ofca deciding to adopt 10-digit smartphone numbers.
Leung Tsz-wing, To Ka Wan
Youth should dial up some restraint
Most of us use mobile phones on a daily basis.
We rely on them for different purposes, such as entertainment and to chat with friends.
However, there is a downside, because if some people over-use these devices, they risk becoming addicted.
Internet addiction is a real problem, especially since you can access it at any time. If young people spend an inordinate amount of time online on their smartphones surfing the net, it could adversely affect their studies and other aspects of their daily lives.
This addiction can also damage their health as they can suffer from bad posture and shortsightedness. If they stop exercising, they could become overweight.
Young people need to learn self-discipline and exercise self-control when using their smartphones.
Audrey Leung, Lok Fu
What is point of the TSA nightmare?
I agree with those who argue that the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) test should be scrapped.
The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority warns against over-drilling of students. However, as some parents have argued, schools fear that poor TSA results could affect their banding and so students face additional practice sessions for the TSA test.
This puts more pressure on teachers and students and they do not gain in any way from such pressure.
I have bad memories of doing this test in Primary Three and Six. I had to do so much homework and it really was a nightmare for me and my classmates. It was wrong that I had to suffer in this way when I was only nine. The Secondary School Places Allocation system and Diploma of Secondary Education are what really matter so what is the purpose of the TSA?
I urge the Education Bureau to listen to the objections of students and parents and to abolish the TSA. Officials need to show they understand the needs of students.
Choi Ka-lok, Tai Wai
A question of balance on exam marking
Society undergoes constant changes, for example, with old technology being replaced and outdated traditions abandoned. These changes enhance our quality of life and education is no different.
The introduction of the new senior secondary curriculum marked a major change in Hong Kong's education system, but making minor adjustments is a continuous process, such as the school-based assessment (SBA). I do not think such frequent changes are good for teachers or students.
This is especially the case when it comes to the marking scheme for the public exam because changes to the SBA leave markers confused. If the syllabus has changed, they cannot use the previous year's marking as a guideline. They then have to establish completely new benchmarks.
A new syllabus can also cause problems for teachers and they may not have time to comprehensively revise their teaching materials.
With these changes and adjusted guidelines, students may feel less secure about doing well in the public exam and this can put more pressure on them and increase their workload.
Sometimes changes have to be made, but officials should think carefully before implementing them and consider what effect they will have on markers, teachers and students.
Wong Siu-yuk, Sham Shui Po
Beware, the happy police are on patrol
I refer to Peter Cope's letter ("Change on terrace dining is baffling", November 7) regarding the Silvermine Bay Resort being banned from serving guests outdoors.
Many police forces in the world have anti-terror groups, but it would seem as if Hong Kong has an anti-happiness group chasing around the city in search of happy customers eating or drinking al fresco.
Stopping cafe owners from blocking the street or a narrow pavement with chairs and tables is fully understandable.
Making sure that people living in the area are not disturbed by noisy restaurant guests is also justified. Going after a cafe owner in a 10-metre-wide alley for pedestrians-only because he puts out a tiny table and a few chairs is not understandable.
Threatening to fine the owner of a little restaurant for occupying one metre of a four-metre wide pavement is also not acceptable.
Evicting a thriving little business from a beachside area where it has been serving swimmers light refreshments for years is not right.
The only plausible explanation I can find is that they don't like us to be too happy.
Many of us would appreciate an explanation for this appalling practice.
Sven Topp, Mui Wo