On Earth Day 2019, take inspiration from these Hong Kong students and make a difference to the environment

To mark the annual event, we spoke to teens about our ailing planet, and what can be done to improve the situation

Joanne Ma |

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On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest against the negative impacts of industrial development. Since then, people around the world have gathered each year on Earth Day to speak up for our environment. Plastics, ocean pollution, and endangered species are some of the problems the movement wants to highlight.

To celebrate Earth Day, which falls today, Young Post took to the streets and asked students about our ailing planet, and what each individual could do to improve the situation. Most students that we talked to did not know much about Earth Day – some confused it with Earth Hour, the annual lights-off event held in March. But, given the name, they guessed it was related to the environment.

“In recent years, I’ve noticed that our winters were getting a lot warmer,” said Kelly Or, a 13-year-old student at St Paul’s Secondary School. “Last winter also didn’t last long because I feel like summer was here in the blink of an eye. It’s arrived sooner than the past few years.”

Vincy Kong, a student from St Stephen’s College, agreed. Vincy said the past winter in Hong Kong seemed to be shorter and warmer. “I didn’t even need to wear long-sleeved clothes, nor a  puffer jacket,” said the 16-year-old. 

All the students we interviewed were aware of the reasons for this phenomenon. Natalie Watt, 14,  also from St Stephen’s College, explained that global warming was partly caused by the emission of air pollutants. “Carbon dioxide traps the heat within our atmosphere and with more of this and other greenhouse gases, our Earth becomes warmer  and warmer,” said Natalie. 

Kelly said, as it became hotter, people would use even more air conditioning, intensifying the greenhouse effect. “More heat is trapped in our atmosphere, and it just becomes a vicious cycle.” She added that global warming is melting the ice caps in the North Pole, endangering the lives of many species. 

As individuals, Kelly said we could all use less air conditioning. “In fact, we can use the fan or open the windows to replace air conditioning,” she said. “If everyone does little things like this, we can make a great impact on our planet.”

Li Tien-yi, 17, a student at Victoria Shanghai Academy, said he tries not to use plastics at all. He then shared what he does if he absolutely has to. “When I’m really thirsty and I buy a bottle of drink, I’ll bring it ... back home, wash and recycle it,” Tien-yi said. He even told us that he had a plastic spoon from that morning in his bag.

When asked about what advice she would give to her peers, Alessandra Chow, 17, from Island School, said: “It’s important to tell people to use fewer plastic bags, drive less, and use more public transport.”

She added we should start by educating young children about the importance of making our planet a better place for everyone to live in. Tien-yi said the key to change was learning more about climate change and the damage that we’re doing to our environment. “Reading more on the topic is really what inspired me to become more environmentally friendly in my lifestyle, so that’s what I advise everyone to do.”

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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