Online Letters, July 4, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 3:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 3:20pm

Factories may have to relocate to ease pollution on mainland

Air pollution continues to be a big problem in northern China and despite efforts a solution has yet to be found to get rid of the frequent haze that envelopes cities in the area.

When cities like Beijing are hit by sandstorms there is a rapid deterioration in air quality. And of course it takes a heavy toll on the health of citizens. There is increased exposure to PM2.5, the most harmful particles in the air, way above the limit recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Of course, there are good days which are free of pollution. If there is a top international sports competition in the capital, or a forum which will be attended by leaders from different countries, the central government implements policies to lower pollution levels, such as the closure of surrounding factories. But this hurts these companies’ businesses and it is impossible to estimate the economic losses for the country.

However, economic changes in the region offer the chance of an improvement. As wages have risen in China some factory owners have shifted production lines to Vietnam and Cambodia where labour is cheaper.

If more factories close and others are relocated to the west of the country, pollution levels in northern China could drop. The forced closure of these plants for special occasions proves what will happen if there are fewer factories – there will be more days with clear air and blue skies. Also, there will be improvements, if the factories that remain clean up their act and reduce emissions.

I appreciate that the problem of air pollution cannot be solved overnight. The central government must get to the root of the problem and will face huge challenges.

Ivy Fung Ho-ching, Kowloon Tong

Even Bush’s ex-treasury chief accepts climate change

Viv Forbes portrays individuals who are concerned about climate change as closed-minded environmental extremists (“Science is not settled when it comes to climate change”, June 27).

But US president George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, who calls climate change the single biggest risk to the global economy, isn’t an environmental extremist.

The US Department of Defence, which states that the effects of climate change are threat multipliers that can enable terrorism and other forms of violence, is not staffed by environmental extremists.

The US National Academy of Sciences, which joined 70 other science academies from around the world in declaring that ocean acidification threatens food security and human health and well-being, is not made up of environmental extremists.

Rather, they are informed voices that must be heard if we are going to summon the political will to meet one of the greatest moral obligations of our generation – reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to make adaptation possible, especially for the millions of people who are living in the most vulnerable communities.

Terry Hansen, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, US

Best way to cut volumes of food waste is by educating citizens

The problem of food waste and the need to reduce volumes is a global issue. About 3,600 tonnes of food waste ends up in landfills in Hong Kong every day. Different stakeholders have a responsibility to try and cut this figure.

The Hong Kong government needs to launch a variety of projects to reduce food waste. And it has to have a concerted education campaign to raise awareness. This should focus on schools so that youngsters grow up recognising that the waste problem here is serious.

The administration also needs to build more facilities which recycle food, for example, turning it into organic fertilisers.

Supermarkets have to take responsibility for a lot of the food waste that is generated. They can improve the situation by modifying the expiry date labelling system. Food nearing its expiry date could be displayed prominently to attract the attention of shoppers.

As consumers we also have an important role to play and we will need to make lifestyle changes. Where possible we should freeze leftovers. And we should be more flexible with expiry dates. Depending on the kind of food, as long as we stick to the “best before” label when consuming an item we should be okay and it is better to eat it than throw it in the bin. Also, you can often tell by looking at the food if it looks fine to eat.

I hope more citizens in Hong Kong will become aware of our food waste problem and take the necessary action.

Woo Cheuk-yi, Yau Yat Chuen

Family influence just as important as what goes on in classroom

Of course, schools play a significant role in the education of young people, but we should not underestimate the important role of the other arm of education, that is, family education. How young people develop as they grow up is largely due to the words and deeds and of their parents.

What students learn in the classroom is essential, but it is no substitute for the important lessons in life they can learn in the home.

The values they are taught in that environment from birth to when they leave home are invaluable. Parents can teach them about the right way to lead their lives, proper conduct and correct behaviour. They can lead by example and by simply talking to their sons and daughters.

There can be no substitute for sound and stable family education in the lives of young people. Even if they are not enjoying school, they can still cope if they are getting the support they need at home from their mothers and fathers.

Shirley Yeung Suet-yi, Kowloon Tong

More must be done to ease plight of homeless

It is clear from what I have seen and read that homelessness is a serious problem in Hong Kong and it appears to be getting worse.

One recent survey claimed that the real number of street sleepers was probably much higher than previous government estimates.

Hong Kong has a huge population and a scarce supply of land. Many people struggle to pay the rent on even a subdivided apartment.

The supply of flats, including public housing, cannot meet rising demand. Some citizens simply cannot cope. They are unable to deal with daily life. They do not have enough for food or rent and some end up on the street.

The government must do more to increase the supply of housing. It also has to ensure that there are enough shelters for the homeless. People tend to discriminate against those who are homeless and this is unfair.

Kelly Chun Ka-lee, Yau Yat Chuen