Letters to the editor, December 23, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 December, 2015, 4:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 December, 2015, 4:36pm

Nations must act to curb deforestation

We all have to recognise that global warming is now a severe problem.

With more greenhouse gases, climate change is getting worse and global temperatures are rising at a faster rate than was anticipated in the past.

The problem is exacerbated by a number of factors. A major factor is the burning of fossil fuels. Methane emissions also contribute to global warming and deforestation.

These are all the result of activity by humankind and we have to introduce mitigating measures.

Global warming is causing sea levels to rise. If we do not take action, we face an environmental disaster.

Countries have to halt the alarming rate of deforestation. They should be aiming to plant more trees rather than cutting them down, since living trees ­absorb carbon dioxide and ­produce oxygen.

Also, governments must accelerate their renewable energy initiatives, such as solar panels and wind power. Methane gas from decaying plants and ­animal waste can be used as fuel.

These governments must keep seeking new approaches to deal with the problem of global warming. It is an issue which affects all of us.

Yoyo Li Fung-lan, Sham Shui Po

Landslide puts spotlight back on safety issues

I have felt a mixture of sadness and anger when reading the news reports about the landslide on the outskirts of Shenzhen which has led to so many fatalities.

Some reports have suggested that the level of devastation was so bad because of the huge ­volume of dumped earth and construction waste.

Once again, it raises questions about safety issues with ­regard to construction projects on the mainland and the role played by the authorities.

There was a time when Hong Kong experienced problems with landslides and appropriate measures were taken to reduce the risks, such as ­planting more trees, and strengthening piling and ­retaining walls to make the structures safer.

The central government must ensure there is a full investigation into what happened in Shenzhen and work out what measures are needed to prevent a repeat of this tragedy.

It must ensure measures are in place to reduce the risk of landslides, especially when there has been heavy rainfall. Preventive measures must be put in place. Overall, there has to be a greater awareness of the risks posed by landslides.

There must be better ­planning of construction projects, when new towns and extended urban areas are being planned, to ensure the safety of residents.

Phoebe Fok, Tseung Kwan O

Time for our chief executive to act tough

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee referred to the declining ability, or inability, of the Hong Kong administration to govern (”Fending off the apocalypse”, December 20).

I would agree there is too much pussyfooting on the part of the Hong Kong government, as if too afraid of being accused of authoritarian rule.

But the truth of the matter is, as Mike Rowse points out ­(“Logic derailed in row over joint border controls”, December 21), the principle applied by the ­“opposition” is that if the government of Leung Chun-ying proposes something, it has to be opposed for opposition’s sake. And I would add, employing the dirtiest of tricks, filibustering and abuse of judicial reviews, taking advantage of the government not wishing to stoop as low.

One TV anchor said on RTHK earlier this month the chief executive should chop all the ­nonsensical dealings with the opposition and “get on with the job”.

That seems like the back-to-square-one approach I once suggested – an unelected governor and Legco.

I would agree with Rachel Leung Cho-kwan that the most urgent task is to get the residents of expensive unhygienic subdivided flats (with their high temperatures) out to some inexpensive hygienic camp of makeshift huts near the MTR (“Too many live in substandard apartments”, December 21).

I often thought some of last year’s Occupy Central activists were camping on Queensway to escape the heat in their subdivided flats.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

We should all be aiming to eat less meat

Meat in Hong Kong is relatively cheap and so for most residents, it is not a burden on their finances and they do not have to treat it as a rare luxury.

This is why many Hongkongers eat a lot of meat and in some cases, that intake is excessive.

The fact is that having too much meat is bad for our health and for the environment.

At lunch in cha chaan teng, you see people often being given large portions of meat.

Too much protein can lead to some diseases and, in some cases, can cause weight problems. Some research has claimed that excessive consumption of meat can increase the risk of cancer.

Also, the high global demand for meat is a major driver of ­climate change.

Some studies claim that farm animals contribute more to ­global warming than total emissions from cars, trains and ­aircraft.

For these reasons, we should all be trying to have less meat in our diets.

It is fairly easy to make the necessary changes. In restaurants, you can ask for smaller portions of meat.

People who are ordering a takeaway can bring their own lunchbox, which will limit the quantity of food they are given.

Mok Sze-lam, Kowloon Tong

Education can make bullies think twice

Cases of cyberbullying have been increasing in recent years and it is an alarming trend among Hong Kong teenagers. This matter should raise public concerns.

This is more prevalent than traditional bullying, because the perpetrators online do not see the mental anguish they cause to their victims.

They do not think about the often serious consequences of their actions. For the victims, it is often very difficult for them to identify the bullies. In effect, these people can act with impunity online.

The effects of bullying can be severe, with teens suffering psychologically. They will often have feelings of very low self-esteem.

Schools need to educate ­students about the effects of bullying and urge them to act responsibly when online. The government also needs tighter controls so that people have to use real names online.

Emily Yeung , Sham Shui Po

Schools have misguided view of TSA

I refer to Alex Lo’s column (“Ban schools from drilling pupils for TSA”, December 1).

I agree that schools and ­parents are the root cause of the tremendous pressure faced by students. Even the Education Bureau has advised against ­drilling for the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA), but it is ­ignored.

We do need the TSA, as it can help improve the methods of teaching adopted by schools and investment can be directed to those schools which are most in need of it.

However, the TSA data should not be used to benchmark schools as the schools seek a higher ranking.

These young people should be allowed to enjoy a carefree childhood and should not have to face such pressure. There is clearly a need to improve the TSA rather than scrap it.

Carmen Li Ka-man, Yau Yat Chuen