Not all biofuels are good for the planet

Cathay Pacific is planning to use biofuels to meet strict carbon emission requirements. This is great news, because if airliners use renewable energy, it will benefit the environment.

However, if using biofuel means burning corn and fermenting crops to generate ethanol, this can be quite damaging.

If more biofuel is needed, then more farmers will grow crops for biofuel and not for food. This may increase the cost of food. If food prices are too high, poor people in developing countries will suffer and millions could die from starvation.

Also, as more land is needed to grow crops for biofuel, large areas of forest will be destroyed. Then more carbon will be released into the air and the problem of global warming will become worse.

Angela Chan, Pooi To Middle School

Child marriage can ruin girls' lives

A few brave girls in India are speaking up against the tradition of child marriage, which can ruin young women's lives. Child marriage is a violation of human rights whether it happens to a boy or a girl. Perhaps, it is the most prevalent form of physical abuse and exploitation of girls.

The tradition of child marriage violates girls' human rights because they cannot decide who they marry. Child marriage limits young girls' skills, resources, knowledge, social support and mobility. In some remote villages in India, age-old customs dictate a woman's life from birth to death.

Young married girls have little power in relation to their husbands. Therefore, they are vulnerable to domestic violence which may include physical or psychological abuse.

Child marriage may lead to lost opportunities for education. It is not only harmful to girls, but has a wide-ranging impact on their children and communities.

To solve these problems, the Indian government should pass laws to establish a legal age of marriage for girls and boys. In some cultures, marriage is regarded as a private matter. Communication can help create social conditions where child marriage can be discussed and human rights can be respected.

Kolon Cheng, SKH Lam Kau Mow Secondary School

Fire precautions are essential

It is heartbreaking to hear that nine people died in the Fa Yuen Street fire disaster, and some 30 people were injured. We must not sit around and do nothing. There are many ways we can help out.

In the short term, physical and moral support should be given to the survivors. A secure place to stay, as well as sufficient food, should be offered to the survivors. The Hong Kong Psychological Counselling Centre should send social workers to comfort them.

The fireman in charge said the tragedy claimed many victims because of overcrowding and blocked fire exits. In the long term, in order to prevent similar disasters, the government should implement more stringent fire-prevention measures. For instance, it could install fire extinguishers on every floor. Better fire prevention means fewer victims.

Wong Ho-yeung, King Ling College

Volunteering is a positive experience

In the past, I thought volunteer work was a waste of time. I could help people in need, but they would get assistance and I would get nothing. Therefore, I seldom volunteered. Hence, my booklet recording other learning experiences at the end of term was blank.

I asked my friend for help and she took me to the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups in Tsuen Wan, where I enrolled in volunteer activities for the summer holidays. The aim was to provide financial aid to poor people living in shoebox-sized flats. For example, delivering donated cookers to them.

Throughout the activity, I felt happy that I could really contribute to helping the needy. Just seeing them smile made me happy. That was quite a special feeling. I started to put myself in others' shoes and tried to understand their difficulties.

I also made lot of new friends from different schools in Tsuen Wan. They didn't mind that I was new to volunteering, and they guided me patiently. I found that doing volunteer work has a lot of advantages. I will continue to serve society after I graduate.

Cherry Wong, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College