There is no lack of innovative ideas for the good of the public, but an able and accommodating leadership is needed to turn them into reality.
Photo credit: Esri China (Hong Kong)
Insanely hot summers, more bicycle paths and cleaner air and less poison in our brain may seem a motley collection of ideas, but they have one thing in common: leadership is needed to solve these issues and bring about a better Hong Kong.
Hot hot hot
While locally we had to bear with a sweltering Mid-Autumn Festival this year (over 33℃), NASA announced that the global surface temperature in August broke the record of the hottest month recorded in the past 136 years.
Ed Hawkins, a climatologist at the University of Reading, UK, has drawn a map a year for the last 167 years showing the average annual temperature from 1850 to 2016. When we review the 167 maps as a whole, the Earth was like an elegant lady over 100 years ago, natural and pleasing. However, in recent years, the Earth was scarlet. Like a patient suffering from severe eczema, it is horrifying.
One of the causes of climatic warming is gasoline usage by vehicles. The exhaust gas discharged by vehicles not only increases the temperature of the Earth but also pollutes the local air, damaging our health. According to recent research from the UK’s Lancaster University, the brain sections of 37 dead bodies (aged 3 to 92) showed that those who lived in air polluted areas, especially in urban areas full of diesel exhaust gas, their brains contained elevated levels of magnetite. Magnetite is not only toxic but also generates toxic free radicals in the brain, causing cognitive impairment and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
Lack of consensus hinders social progress
Various solutions have been suggested by the public to rectify the problem of unclean air. Among those useful and constructive ideas published in the media, the promotion of cycling interests me. If we really want to implement such an idea, we need to build a coherent urban cycling system, not like the one currently in the New Territories where people need to get off the bicycles every now and then. Also it would be great to have a cycling track along the waterfront of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula so as to promote daily commuting by cycle.
Once cycle trails are in place, Hong Kong could follow the scheme of shared bicycle established in Lyon, France, 10 years ago. A local Hong Kong start-up’s award-winning foldable electric bike could also become popular. Some people, however, may argue that the idea is not realistic given the scarcity of land in Hong Kong. If different stakeholders with different opinions could not reach a consensus, such a proposal would end up as just a fantasy. Thus, it is important that our government takes the initiative and has the determination to achieve public consensus and resolve social conflicts.
Cooler, healthier, cleaner through leadership
With the conclusion of the Legislative Council election, people begin to focus on the Chief Executive Election and the Election Committee coming up later this year. I had been a Chief Executive Election Committee Member in the Information and Communications Technology sector from 2007 to 2016. In the upcoming term, I have decided to leave the post of Committee Member to newcomers.
Although I shall not be participating in the Committee election, I have a few words to the future Chief Executive: A first task of the Chief Executive is to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness by combining the leading edges of ICT and related industries as the core of the economy, with a stress on environmental protection in the process of the development. The work is complicated. If the Government can coordinate different opinions and ideas, pull together the public forces, its administration will definitely be more effective.
Hong Kong has talented people, good infrastructure and world respected judicial system. If our next Chief Executive has the ability to consolidate different opinions and create a harmonious environment, the Pearl of the Orient can continue to flourish – maybe with cleaner air, sharper brains and more bicycles!
- “NASA Analysis Finds August 2016 Another Record Month”, 12-09-2016, NASA http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/news/20160912/
- Mapping changes in temperature (1850-2016), 24-08-2016, Ed Hawkins, Twitter https://twitter.com/ed_hawkins
- “Causes of Climate Change”, Government of Canada http://climatechange.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=65CD73F4-1#X-201208011007512
- “Toxic air pollution nanoparticles discovered in the human brain”, 05-09-2016, Lancaster Universityhttp://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2016/toxic-air-pollution-nanoparticles-discovered-in-the-human-brain/
- “France’s first “Vélo’v”, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A9lo%27v
[starbox desc=”Winnie Tang
With a PhD in Science and being an honorary professor of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Dr. Winnie Tang JP belongs to the groups of locally-bred IT entrepreneurs of Hong Kong. She is Founder and Chairman of Steering Committee of the Smart City Consortium, and is the pioneer in bringing the Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to benefit the public and private sectors in Hong Kong. Over the years, she has been actively advocating the use of technology in various sectors including environmental conservation, education and healthcare for a better Hong Kong.