Letters to the editor, January 24, 2016

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 January, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 January, 2016, 10:00am

Human impact on climate system is clear

The Hong Kong Observatory is not against suggestions for improving air quality but is obliged to point out the misinformation and unsubstantiated claims about climate science contained in the letter by Luke Chan (“Carbon trading schemes are a scam”, January 10).

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that human influence on the climate system is clear. The report is compiled based on peer-reviewed evidence and publications, and represents the consensus of climate scientists.

Climate models used in the report did consider natural factors such as solar and volcanic activities. However, these natural factors alone would not be able to account for the observed global temperature change. The significant global temperature rise since mid-20th century could only be simulated when human factors such as greenhouse gas emissions were incorporated in the models.

According to the report, the contribution of solar activity to the warming of Earth was about 2 per cent of human contribution since mid-18th century. As simulated by Nasa’s state-of-the-art climate model, contributions from solar and volcanic activities to global temperature change were very small compared to the greenhouse gases induced by human activities.

In the natural world, there is a feedback mechanism operating between global temperature and carbon dioxide: more carbon dioxide will warm the Earth, warmer oceans will release more carbon dioxide which, in turn, will further enhance the warming. In the past 800,000 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration fluctuated between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm). In 2014, the annual average carbon dioxide concentration reached a new height of 398 ppm, more than 40 per cent above the pre-industrial level.

Lee Sai Ming, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Country parks necessary to help us relax

There have been many letters in these pages about whether or not Hong Kong’s country parks should be used for housing. Even as our shortage for housing worsens, I believe we should not use country parks for housing.

Hong Kong people live in a fast-paced city, and many of us lead stressful lives. Country parks allow pause for reflection. We can take a break and enjoy flying kites or lunching outdoors with a full view of the mountains. If country parks are replaced by high rises, we will have fewer places to relax. Furthermore, removing country parks will exacerbate our air pollution and increase the rate of global warming.

Instead of destroying our country parks, the government needs to come up with a sensible strategy to address the shortage of land. It should get to the root of the problem, which is our high property prices.

Kaylie Lai Tsz Ki, Kwai Chung

Has HK stalled, as event name suggests?

Whoever came up with the event title, StartmeupHK Festival? Does this not suggest Hong Kong is currently stationary, or perhaps has stalled and requires restarting? The innuendo is so glaringly obvious as to be embarrassing. At a time when Hong Kong needs to be sending a positive and reassuring message to the world, this event, which no doubt is an excellent concept, is sending a rather crass message.

Adding to this faux pas, I understand local digital media are to be prevented from attending the StartmeupHK Venture Forum on January 26. This appears, in itself, to be somewhat self-defeating.

Tony Price, Tung Chung

Beware the cold snap – indoors

Being idle on a recent cold and miserable afternoon, I decided to go to the cinema to see The Revenant, starring Leonadro DiCaprio in the epic role of a fur trapper injured by a bear attack and struggling to survive alone through an Arctic winter.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the film was greatly reduced because the air conditioning, supported by fierce blowers apparently on full blast, rendered the temperature inside the cinema even colder than outside. Possibly the cinema wanted patrons to better empathise with DiCaprio’s predicament?

Might I suggest that the government consider requiring all operators/managers of public buildings (and transport) to prominently display interior temperatures, including wind chill factors, so that potential users may better judge whether to use these facilities and, if so, the number of layers of insulating clothing needed?

Doug Miller, Tai Po

Time to change the cast and script

Listening to Sarah Palin endorse Donald Trump as America’s next president should be relegated to a B-grade afternoon movie. To hear her announce that “this is gonna be so much fun” reflects the complete lack of awareness she has for the fragile state of the world; that she and Donald Trump and their bigoted right-wing views create hatred and division should be part of a poorly written script.

Yet, even Hollywood seems to understand the role of the presidency better; in Michael Douglas’ 1995 film The American President, his character makes a speech far more compelling than the drivel we hear from Trump.

Douglas’ character declares “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing centre stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; it also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest’.”

Perhaps we need another actor to be president?

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Desperately seeking better policy ideas

I agree with Mable Shing that the government should put more effort into tackling the severe lack of affordable housing, in ­order to help the poor (“Street sleepers deserve more help”, January 18).

The government spends billions on building an express rail link to Guangzhou and promotes Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” economic plan. It is clear that the government regards supporting mainland China as a key duty of government. Equally clearly, encouraging a fall in housing prices is not.

I hope the government can put the welfare of Hong Kong people as a priority.

Perhaps it should organise a competition to ask university students for better policy ideas to cope with the housing and other problems. Such a competition would give university students a taste of how difficult policymaking can be, and instead of just criticising, they can suggest some helpful ideas.

Nancy Lam,To Kwa Wan