Letters Online, October 10, 2017
Textbook publishers should think more about environment and less about profits
To a large extent I agree with Barry Dalton about the needless waste of textbooks in Hong Kong (“Textbooks are thrown away in wasteful city”, September 25).
In most cases publishers do not need to bring out a new edition every year. My sister is a year younger than me so it makes sense for her to use my textbooks. And yet this year she had to buy a new maths and Chinese-language book, because new editions had been published. I flipped through them and except for some case studies, there was little difference between them and my older editions. Virtually everything was the same and it is pointless for publishers to do this. As responsible companies they should be trying to help save the planet. They should cut back on cosmetic changes and avoid where possible bringing out a new edition every year.
What is also needed is a change of habit by school pupils. They must stop scribbling answers in the textbooks. They can have a separate notebook to do that. It makes it much easier for them to sell the textbook second-hand, because the pages are clean. If they must write in the book they should at least use a pencil so it can be erased.
Bookstores and green groups should be willing to collect textbooks which are in a good condition and sell them second-hand. This can reduce the financial burden faced by low-income families who struggle to afford to pay for a lot of new editions. My school’s student union organised a book fair, so schoolmates could share books and this was very popular.
Teachers should encourage pupils who no longer need a textbook to donate it so that it can be passed on to needy families. If all stakeholders play their part, we can have a more environmentally-friendly attitude to textbooks in our schools.
Melisse Lee, Sham Tseng
Students can avoid needless waste and spare our landfills
I agree with correspondents who have called for more sharing of textbooks in schools.
With so many subjects to study every year pupils have to buy a lot of books and it is preferable for them to buy them second-hand. This lessens the financial burden faced by parents. Pupils must get out of the habit of writing notes in their textbooks and should use notebooks for that purpose.
Our landfills are nearing capacity and we need to cut back on the volumes of waste we generate as a society. Too many of these books which could be recycled or reused, are ending up in the landfills. We can stop this happening by trying to be less wasteful.
I have done a bit of research and estimate that over 90 per cent of the content of new textbooks is the same as the previous edition, so there is really no need to buy them.
The government can help by promoting the advantages of book sharing. It can do this through adverts on television and the internet. It should offer subsidies to bookshops which will sell second-hand books.
Theodora Luk, Kowloon Tong
Long shifts for bus drivers a serious health issue
The reports on the recent bus accident highlighted the problem of bus drivers working long shifts. Transport unions have pointed out that shifts as long as 14 hours leave the drivers tired and there must be a review of these shifts.
If an employee is tired then there is a greater risk of an accident and this should be a cause for concern for all franchised bus firms and the passengers who use their services.
It may make some people think twice about travelling on buses or they may choose areas of the bus where they think there is less likelihood of getting hurt if there is a road traffic accident.
It is not good for someone’s health to be working such long hours. If an agreement cannot be reached between the drivers and their employers, the government should consider legislation so that the hours of bus drivers are cut.
Hilary Lee, Tseung Kwan O
Despite carnage Trump will not act on gun laws
Stephen Paddock’s shooting spree in Las Vegas was the worst in modern US history, with 58 people dead and many more injured.
I have been concerned by the response from President Donald Trump. Of course, he expressed his sympathy for the victims and said he would pray for them. But, he said nothing about new legislation to tighten gun controls. As president, surely he has a responsibility to try and introduce whatever measures are needed to make it more difficult for the country to see a repeat of this mass killing. In seems that without the necessary laws in place, we will see more these kinds of attacks in America.
The government should be taking a clear stand and saying what it will to reduce gun violence. A failure to do so will inevitably make America a more dangerous country.
Crystal Ng, North Point
China’s demand for energy from Middle East will continue to grow
As though there aren’t enough surprises in the Middle East, consider these: King Salman of Saudi Arabia visits Russia, China continues to import crude oil from Iran, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) meets next month, and Russia plays all sides depending on which way it wants to tilt the balance. What all these dynamics have in common is oil.
Only a year ago, energy analysts argued that China’s oil demand that fuelled the world economy in the last decade was slowing down. Could Chinese demand for oil, mainly from the Middle East, peak again? I believe that it can. China is the main importer of Iran’s oil. On average, the Chinese have shipped in more than 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Iran. Beijing is estimated to raise its oil imports by another two million bpd and Tehran is well-placed, following the lifting of sanctions, to further increase oil sales to the world’s second biggest economy.
And if that is not enough reason to believe that China’s demand for oil will continue to grow, consider this, “China’s oil demand rose by 690,000 bpd in July, marking a 6 per cent year-over-year increase” according to Forbes. I see the writing on the wall as China’s oil demand will continue to grow. That growth, will peak by 2035. China’s oil consumption by then will be about seven million bpd.
One realises why China is investing in Iran. The Saudi king’s visit to Russia highlights not only his country’s anxiety about China’s economic investments in Iran, but also Russia’s economic concerns over China’s growing oil demand from the Middle East, especially when adding natural gas to the equation.
I predict that China’s demand for energy from the Middle East (mainly Iran) will continue to grow. As I argue in my forthcoming book, Volatile State: Iran in the Nuclear Age, China’s acquisition of major oil contracts in Iraq exemplifies its strategy and pragmatism. From China’s perspective, it makes economic sense to expand its presence in the Middle East, and the perfect conduit to do so is through Iran.
King Salman’s visit to Russia highlights both countries’ (Saudi Arabia and Russia) anxiety and concerns over – Chinese demand of oil and soon natural gas from Iran; supply abundance; and, an ongoing drop in oil prices.
Dr David Oualaalou, founder, Global Perspective Consulting, Dallas, Texas, US