Evasion over social costs of third runway
The letter by Gabriel Lee ('City will benefit from third runway', April 1) supports the recent government announcement to proceed with planning for a third runway despite the impact on the environment.
Lee wrote: 'I believe that if you look at all the issues in depth the advantages of going ahead with this project outweigh the disadvantages.'
Your correspondent has obviously not tried to verify this, as they would have immediately found major information gaps on the disadvantages.
In fact, the actions of the Airport Authority and government indicate they have no intention of providing basic information on the financial costs of damage to the environment and to people from a third runway.
A recent University of Hong Kong opinion poll found 73 per cent of respondents think that it is important for the government to take environmental and social costs into account when considering a third runway option. However, the authorities have remained extremely evasive when asked by WWF, legislative councillors, political parties, reporters and others whether they will make such information available.
Such a position is indefensible.
A third runway will likely cause the fishing industry to suffer losses in value of their catches of HK$48 million and losses in net profit of HK$11 million over an 18-year period, as estimated in a study undertaken by the University of British Columbia.
Everyone in Hong Kong has a right to know what the overall cost and benefit for this mega-project is likely to be, and this should be done before a final decision is made on whether to build it.
Is the continued refusal to even discuss the issue because the authorities are worried about what such a balance sheet would show?
Andy Cornish, director of conservation, WWF-Hong Kong
Airport expansion long overdue
Unlike our regional aviation hub competitors, Hong Kong is around a decade late in planning for increasing capacity at our airport.
In fact, it is arguable we are more than two decades late. The initial design called for two runways when there should have been four.
That's history, this is now and we've finally decided to go ahead with [planning] number 3. Great! However, we are constrained by incessant debate from multitudinous lobby groups (some of whom dwell on the fringes of rational debate) and a grossly inefficient administration. What's happened to the to the centuries-old Hong Kong philosophy: we need it so build it?
But where do we find the money, asks the Airport Authority, custodians of one of Hong Kong's most lucrative profit centres. We'll make the user pay, say they. So every poor muppet who uses our airport incurs another surcharge until the runway's built. Well, enough of that sneaky form of government revenue- raising.
If we're going to pay, it's ours. If a tunnel company can own a tunnel, then we (through a suitable body) can own a runway and lease it back to the authority.
Pie in the sky, yes, but what about the fourth runway - build it too, we'll need it soon enough .
S. William Perret, Wan Chai
Figures on EU-UK laws incorrect
Scott Davies is cavalier in his use of statistics in his letter ('It is time for Britain to quit the EU', March 25).
While he is right that Britain pays in the equivalent of HK$500 million per day, he neglects to mention the country receives 75 per cent back in rebates.
The politically independent House of Commons Library's analysis of legislation states around 15 per cent of Britain's legislation originates from the European Union, not the 75 per cent Scott Davies claims.
Graeme Cooper, Discovery Bay
Don't blame Babe for warming
If people for ethical or religious reasons choose not to eat meat, eggs or dairy produce, most of us respect this choice, even if we don't share those principles.
Trying to intimidate the public with claims linking animal production with global warming is just the kind of false moral posturing that gives organisations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals a bad name; witness letters like the one from Jason Baker, Peta Asia's vice-president of international campaigns ('Vegan diet is best for the environment, April 1).
Before considering whether one's dietary choices have a bad effect upon the environment, one should consider:
Methane concentration is up just 20 parts per billion since 2000;
Global temperature is rising more slowly than the much-vaunted UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) lowest estimate;
The sea level has been rising for eight years at just 3.3 cm/century (per 100 years);
Ocean heat content has barely risen in six years;
Hurricanes and tropical cyclones are quieter than for 30 years;
Global sea-ice extent has changed little in 30 years;
The tropical hot spot the IPCC predicts as our footprint is absent;
Outgoing thermal radiation from earth is escaping to space much as usual; and
In Eurasia, we have just 'enjoyed' the coldest winter in 60 years.
The half-trillion terrestrial animals we have supposedly eaten since 2000 have done a rather feeble job of changing our climate.
The world's largest sources of methane are swamps (or wetlands as the enlightened prefer to call them) but the anti-animal- production lobby would have a great deal more difficulty convincing people to spend trillions of taxpayers' dollars draining biodiversity-rich swamps than keeping Babe the pig off their fork. If people choose to abstain from using animal products, they should be honest about their motivations and not misrepresent the virtues of their lifestyle choices.
Simon Appleby, Sai Kung
A distorted history of planet earth
Last Sunday, I and a number of sceptical friends, including a biologist and a few rationalists, decided to visit the Noah's Ark theme park in Ma Wan.
We were saddened that a place that was supposed to be enlightening and enjoyable for a family on a Sunday afternoon was a place which twisted scientific facts which means that children who go there are being misinformed.
A multimedia game depicted that the earth would undergo 'combustion' if the oxygen level in the atmosphere exceeded 21 per cent even by a little.
Anyone who knows about the history of our planet would be able to point out that the oxygen level in the atmosphere was above 30 per cent during the Carboniferous period (about 350 million years ago). The earth supported some amazing life forms during this period, such as big dragonflies nearly one metre across (Meganeura), the 2.6 metre, millipede-like Arthropleura and 70cm-long Pulmonoscorpius.
The so-called 'habitable zone' argument that only earth supports life forms we know of has already been widely debunked. Of course the park has used fossil specimens to support its religious agenda without revealing their palaeontological facts (which contradict its agenda).
It is touted as a tourist attraction, but it actually brings shame to Hong Kong as a world city.
Virginia Yue, Fanling
Rehousing is the only solution
There has been a great deal of debate about the government's crackdown on subdivided flats.
I think that those tenants who are affected by this move should be rehoused in public rental flats.
A policy of rehousing must be seen as part of the crackdown programme. It would be so cruel if, because of the actions of officials, people were left homeless.
Given the number of families forced to live in this kind of accommodation, once they have closed down a set of these dwellings officials must take follow-up action and find out what has happened to the affected tenants.
The government has a responsibility to take care of people from the grass roots. People who live in subdivided flats lack economic power. They do not have the means to find alternative accommodation on their own.
Rehousing is the best solution if officials want to get to the root of the problem.
If these people are forced to find another subdivided flat, then are evicted again, they are caught in a vicious circle and the problem is never solved.
Jessica Tsang Kit-yi, Ma On Shan