Letters to the Editor, July 31, 2017

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 3:46pm

Human influence has been proved

I refer to the letter by Wyss Yim (“Wrong to see carbon dioxide as a pollutant”, July 22) and his scientifically unfounded claim of carbon dioxide not being the key driver in climate change.

One of the conclusions of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly states that it is extremely likely that human influence (viz. anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission) has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

According to the data published in the Summary for Policymakers of AR5, the share of carbon dioxide’s contribution to the warming of the planet between 1750 and 2011 is about 73 per cent among all human-related factors (www.climatechange2013.org/report).

Regarding his repeated claims about carbon dioxide’s “benefits” but ignoring the overall negative impacts of climate change, I refer your readers to our rebuttal letter of October 14, 2016 (“The adverse impact of ­climate change now proved ­beyond doubt”).

His proposed two-week experiment on carbon dioxide emission is nonsensical given the well-known fact that carbon dioxide is a long-lived greenhouse gas and the time scale of its warming effect lasts from centuries to millennia, not weeks where such long-term impacts are often masked by weather changes.

If Mr Yim truly disagrees with the global scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, he should put forward his views within the scientific community through publishing his own research in a refereed journal, instead of repeatedly spreading misleading information under the cover of “opinion”.

Lee Sai-ming, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Higher birth rate can help society

The cancellation of the one-child policy in China can lead to an increase in the birth rate which can have some effect on the ageing population.

An ageing population on both sides of the border can have serious consequences, for example, a shortage in the workforce. The effects of an ageing population are already being felt in a number of countries including Japan and Western Europe.

Some young people in Hong Kong and the mainland have chosen not to start a family.

Governments have to try harder and introduce appropriate policies to encourage more young couples to start a family.

Yuen Chung-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

ESF fee hike will harm Hong Kong

It has never been so expensive to educate your kids in schools offering a high quality of English medium of instruction (EMI). The latest English Schools Foundation (ESF) fee hike (“Fee rises of up to 27% approved for ESF schools”, July 28) will kill Hong Kong as an international city.

It has long been acknowledged that the high numbers of Hongkongers speaking English to a high level is key to the city’s internationalisation. Such fee hikes will ensure that an ever-smaller elite group of young people will have the opportunity to receive EMI. Many of these are well-off kids who will then go on to study in universities abroad.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of local Hongkongers who are unable to afford such EMI will struggle to fulfil their potential. In interviews I have conducted with local students, many feel their lack of ability in English is holding them back and denying them places in university.

Hong Kong’s place as an international city is not assured; we should not let such inequalities in our education system affect our young people’s opportunities and our city’s ­reputation.

Michael O’Sullivan, Sha Tin

There is a downside to the internet

Many of us depend a lot on devices such as smartphones and computers. However, this can be a double-edged sword.

There are a lot of advantages, such as helping people to get information quickly and efficiently. We can use different plat­forms to access various kinds of information.

This can help improve someone’s efficiency in the workplace.

However, some people can depend too much on these devices and that can be unhealthy, especially if they spend too long on them. If they use their smartphones to connect with people, they can lose the ability to communicate with people. Technology may not be a blessing if it takes us away from the real world.

Victoria So Wan-tung, Tsuen Wan

Students struggle with pricey books

Books are very expensive in Hong Kong. This is bad news for many students, because having the books they want can help them to have a deeper understanding of the subject they are studying.

They often have to write reports on certain books and this can cause problems if they cannot afford these books. Children often feel under pressure, because they are told all the time that reading is good for them and yet not all families can afford to buy all the books that students will need.

When you walk into a bookshop, you are unlikely to see a book that it priced at HK$50 or less. Most non-fiction books will cost HK$100 or more.

This can cause problems for children from low-income families.

The only option for children from underprivileged backgrounds is to borrow books from libraries.

There should be no price tag attached to the acquisition of knowledge.

The government should ­recognise that money should not be an obstacle for young people who are keen to learn and want to improve themselves as they grow up.

Maggie Tung, To Kwa Wan