Letters to the Editor, December 02, 2015

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2015, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2015, 6:16pm

Top scientists agree about climate change

I refer to the letter by G. Bailey (“No need for hysterics on climate change”, November 13).

Your correspondent does not offer a scintilla of ­evidence, scientific or anecdotal, to back up his assertion that climate ­scientists don’t know what they’re talking about.

A position without hard ­evidence is a belief, and a belief is a product of the imagination, not critical thinking, and I see none of that in the letter, just ­hyperbole and an allusion to a conspiracy by world science. Some conspiracy: thousands of the world’s leading scientists from 120 countries over 50 years have pretty well all reached the same conclusion, that climate change and global warming are here and will be exponentially dramatic.

In the competitive world of science, it is rare to get two scientists to agree on anything. To have a few thousand from multiple disciplines agree after comprehensive and rigorous peer-reviewed studies that climate change is largely man-made is extraordinary, to say the least.

In that context, irrational comments with no foundation in the facts have no place in any serious discussion on the single most important issue of our times. But blind theory will always exist, as it does on this vital subject in the US Congress, a body not known to be idiotproof.

As Mark Twain supposedly said, ­“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” I am reminded that it took a few hundred years for the flat earth society to disappear. We don’t have that long.

Carina Pico, Discovery Bay

Government pays lip service to serious issue

This week, the UN climate change conference is being held in Paris, the international political response to climate change.

I am sure I not alone in questioning the level of involvement, current action, future strategies and degree of commitment being made by Hong Kong to probably the greatest threat to our planet today.

With Hong Kong’s claim to being a world city, and a very wealthy one too, surely our business and political representatives should show leadership in this crucial issue.

Too often we are made aware, in these columns and elsewhere, of Hong Kong ­people’s frustrations with all-too-common complaints – air quality and vehicle emissions; congested and polluted streets; lack of enforcement of idling engines; low or non-existent insulation requirements in buildings; overzealous air conditioning; unnecessary packaging of consumer and food goods; lack of or ineffective recycling schemes; reliance on coal-fired power stations; lack of cycle paths and lack of innovative public transport initiatives, and unnecessary air travel. The list seems endless.

In short, Hong Kong is ­displaying a level of apathy and disinterest in climate change issues not worthy of a wealthy world city.

Furthermore, leaders in government and business use platitudes to respond to these grave issues. They are issues which may not affect us too much (save shortened lives, a lower quality of life and high medical bills) but which will haunt today’s young children and future generations.

Tony Price, Tung Chung

Save-planet protesters hypocritical

Did those save-the-planet ­protesters get to the posh Paris party on bicycles? And are they taking care to live on lettuce while not releasing any bottled bubbles of carbon dioxide?

Or are they just a globe-trotting horde of hyperventilating hypocrites who could best ­reduce greenhouse gases by not ­exhaling for an hour?

Viv Forbes, Rosewood, Queensland, Australia

Under-fire test should not be scrapped

Although some parents and teachers say the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) puts to much pressure on children, I do not think these tests should be scrapped.

The problem is not with the test, but with the schools. As the TSA results can affect a school’s ranking, it puts a lot of pressure on pupils to do well and they face an excessive workload.

Parents opposed to TSA say it puts so much pressure on ­students that they lose important family time and this affects their mental development. However, I do not see how that can be the case as the TSA tests are held at three-year intervals.

It is up to parents and schools to ensure pupils have a happy and healthy childhood.

Fedora Ho Ka-yan, Kowloon Tong

Allocate spare land so helpers can meet

In the letter, “Helpers should do what they want on day off” (November 24), Kevin Clayton felt domestic helpers must have freedom of choice when they are off.

I see his point and it is ­important that they do not have to work on their rest day. However, when they congregate in large numbers in crowded ­urban areas like ­Central and Mong Kok, this can cause congestion and block footbridges and stairs for passers-by.

I have experienced this problem on a Sunday in Mong Kok. I have to make a detour to get to where I want to go.

These are public rights of way which are being blocked. I think the best solution would be for the government to find ­vacant land which is not in use and allow domestic helpers to meet their friends there.

Yoyo Sin, Cheung Sha Wan

Tourists put off by bad air on the mainland

I refer to your editorial, “Lift standards to draw tourists” (November 24).

The number of tourists ­visiting China has dropped in ­recent years. I think this is ­because air pollution is getting worse on the mainland. Also, the behaviour of some citizens does not help. Visitors have complained about some mainland and Hong Kong citizens being impolite when, for ­example, they ask directions.

While one reason may be that many of them do not speak English, tourists complain about communication problems even in shops. Some shop assistants cannot answer simple questions about products.

The central government has to recognise that problems exist and deal with them. It should ensure that staff in shops frequented by tourists have a good command of basic English.

Cathy Yuen, Tseung Kwan O

Adolescents spend too long on phones

While advances in technology bring a lot of benefits, there is also a downside if, for example, there is overuse of smartphones.

This is a problem with adolescents. Many of them spend far too much time on their smartphones. While they can be an aid to learning, they can also be counterproductive if students go straight to these devices to get the answers to questions in their studies. They should instead be trying to research and commit information to memory.

While there is nothing wrong with having phones as an aid to learning and using them socially to keep in touch with friends, adolescents have to exercise self-discipline.

There should be more ­parental supervision of smartphone use and young people need to set themselves time limits to prevent overuse.

Samantha Situ, Kwai Chung