Environmental issues are Global issues simply because the everyday actions of individuals revolve around the environment. Therefore, environmental issues will have countless effects on us and our identities, and may either improve or worsen depending on our activities and the activities around us. For instance, air pollution and light pollution are two significant environmental issues in Hong Kong as well as the world. Hong Kong is known as the ‘Asian Tiger’, and is full of busy people that require getting around swiftly, and as long as they get to their destinations it does not matter how.
In most cases, even if it means taking a ferry that releases black smoke twice every day. In fact, Hong Kong suffers from two air pollution issues: local street-level pollution and regional smog problem. Primarily, local street-level pollution is caused by diesel vehicles (in other words private vehicles), whereas the regional smog problem is caused by a combination of pollutants from motor vehicles, industry and power plants both in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region. For local residents, chronic exposure may lead to several health problems such as lung cancer and heart disease.
This may leave them no choice but to wear face masks in public, or to leave Hong Kong because of it. Moreover, there is also a financial cost to the economy that is relating to hospital admissions, lost productivity and the ability to attract foreign skilled labour. Indeed the government has acted upon this issue and has banned indoor smoking, banned vehicle idling, switched to cleaner motor fuels and will continue carry out future campaigns to solve this long-term issue. Local citizens consider taking the cheap and convenient public transportation to reduce carbon footprint, to generally benefit from them and contribute to the environment.
Hong Kong is also known as one of the ‘City That Never Sleeps’, and like other large cities in the world, Hong Kong’s iconic image has its share of light pollution. Buildings, flashing advertisement signs, streets and shops; everything is dressed in bright tantalizing lights that tourists around the world come to see every night. Although it may be amazing and a valued tourist attraction, it is merely the opposite for the locals, especially for the residents who live in and around Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, who are affected daily.
These issues build up and influence local citizens’ health, temper, stress levels, disturbing sleep patterns and disrupting circadian rhythms. Similarly, with rising property prices, some residents have few choices but to live in densely crowded, bright night areas. Not only does light pollution have an effect on health and is a waste of energy, but it also has an effect on the work force of Hong Kong. While some consider leaving Hong Kong because of the light pollution, a good number had already had enough and left.
As light pollution is becoming more apparent, the government and the residents have also started to act upon the issue. In 2009, Hong Kong joined the world-wide ‘Earth Hour’, where over thousands of buildings and organizations dimmed their lights for an hour, saving valuable energy. Even the smallest efforts such as turning off unnecessary lights, switching energy saving lights and spreading the word out can make a difference. In most cases, we have control over environmental issues and can contribute individually to them as a local, national and a global citizen.
In an economically flourished and developed country or city like Hong Kong, the success of the people is not an excuse to vitiate the environment, as our lives, identities and environment are all affected equally.
Sources http://www. epd. gov. hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/air_maincontent. html http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_Hong_Kong http://business. blogs. cnn. com/2012/02/21/hong-kong-battles-light-pollution/ http://www. hkstories. net/fall2011backup/2011/11/29/light-pollution-in-hong-kong-evaluations-and-efforts/