Online Letters, April 4, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 11:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 11:41am

Time to question the green energy prophets

There was a time when true environmentalists strove to protect wild things. Now the green shirts have become enemies of the environment, by pushing green energy and demonising the building blocks of life – carbon and carbon dioxide.

Wind turbines and their cobweb of connecting roads and transmission lines have destroyed native trees and grasses in Australia, scarred and uglified wild hilltops, and littered continental shelves with naval and aerial obstacles. They create wind and rain shadows and decimate resident and migratory birds and bats.

Industrial-scale solar power is no better, stealing sunlight from every plant that tries to live in the shadow of the panels. Solar-thermal arrays have the additional trick of roasting any birds, bats and insects which fly through their focused rays of heat.

These green energy toys produce small amounts of unreliable weather-dependent energy at great economic and environmental cost.

Greens also promoted diesel to replace cleaner petrol in vehicles. Thank them for more urban pollution.

Their promotion of ethanol and bio-diesel has caused the widespread conversion of cropland, and clearing of natural vegetation and forests, to grow industrial crops like corn and palm oil. This has also reduced food supplies, increased food prices and forced some poor people to poach in parklands.

And the stupid promotion of burning wood for power and home heating has taken some cities back 65 years to the era of London smogs. Forests are again being cleared and wood smoke is again choking urban communities.

None of these expensive and destructive activities will have any measurable or beneficial effect on global temperature.

What is the real agenda?

Viv Forbes, Rosevale, Queensland, Australia

Global warming doubters waging lonely battle

Global warming doubters commit blasphemy by questioning the whole gamut of this crusade, especially when they question the efficacy of the Paris climate change accord, thereby shredding the progressive climate catechism.

They are apostates, waging a lonely battle of facts against the hand-wringing disciples of the academy, those whose own facts do not stand up to vigorous scrutiny but whose sense of the progressive pulse is spot-on.

Some have gone farther than just questioning the assumptions of the global warming lobby, by proposing a series of actions which would be a better expense of public monies than the futile actions the alarmists have approved. But in an age when we are habituated to the waste of trillions of dollars, it is hard to get worked up about still another progressive waste.

Paul Bloustein, Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Longer jail terms not always the best solution

I refer to the debate about whether having longer prison sentences is the best way to reduce crime.

This century has seen an increase in crime rates around the world. Governments should therefore take comprehensive action to punish criminals and assure law-abiding citizens.

However, what is the best way to tackle crime? Some believe that longer prison sentences is best, but others suggest better alternatives.

Of course, there are benefits to having offenders serve longer terms. First, it gives prisoners a chance to rethink their actions, and even educate themselves or learn a trade from prison training programmes or services. They can reflect on their own behaviour and not offend again. Future criminals may also be inspired to stay within the law by knowing that otherwise they may have to waste their youth behind bars.

However, there are alternative ways to reduce crime. Take stiff fines or community service instead, as practised in Hong Kong. These methods can help reduce government expenditure on the prison system. Also, it gives the offender a chance to realise the severity of their deed and to turn over a new leaf. Meanwhile, engagement in community service is a better penalty for teenaged offenders guilty of relatively minor misdeeds, as prison terms may be too harsh for them. They still have their whole lives ahead of them, and community service can help them see the error of their ways.

Also, spending a long time in prison may see them mingle with other, perhaps hardened, criminals. So their character may not get a chance to improve. They may even become serious criminals and cause damage to the society.

Undeniably, longer prison sentences are necessary for heinous crimes. But I do not think it always helps to reduce crime.

Jessie Leung Cheuk-yau, Yau Yat Chuen

Carrie Lam may prove to be a uniting force

Personally I like chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. I admire her stature as a fine lady with a Christian temperament. She’s steadfast and effective, too. The fact that she has the backing of the central government is an added merit. While it may have been the determining factor for her election victory last month; but it also explains why many people hate her so much.

Being the chief executive of Hong Kong at such a difficult time is no easy job. I hope Lam has the stamina to live out her faith in the Hong Kong people as she seeks to handle the various issues that have been bothering the current administration. And I hope that Hong Kong would give her the trust, time and space she needs to find some solutions for us.

Uniting all fronts in the city is her top agenda. With divine blessings, the co-operation of her supporters, and patience of the rest, there is a good chance that Hong Kong will eventually edge towards that end. And isn’t that what we deserve after long years of discord?

Jacqueline Kwan May-ling, Mid-Levels

Construction costs a source of concern

I refer to your report on construction costs in our city (“Hong Kong the most expensive Asian city to build anything in, survey reveals”, March 6).

According the report, a severe shortage of labour is pushing construction costs in Hong Kong sky-high. With mega-projects ongoing, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and large government housing programmes, the labour shortage needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

Macau, Asia’s second costliest city in this regard, can import construction workers from the mainland and Hong Kong, which helps to ease the labour shortage there and keeps costs in control.

About 40 per cent of Hong Kong’s construction workers are above 50 years of age. Young workers are not keen to join this sector, as the earning potential is much lower compared with the tertiary sector. I think the government should encourage people, especially younger adults, to join this sector and give more subsidies to companies suffering labour shortage.

Crystal Wang, Yau Yat Chuen