Beyond Borders

The ungreenest city of all

2011-03-04 08:05
Simon Williamson is a South African currently in Hong Kong.

Simon Williamson is a South African currently in Hong Kong.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Simon Williamson

Whatever your beliefs are around whether humanity is destroying the environment or it is doing so itself, one cannot get past the clear observation that Hong Kong is one of the most wasteful, polluted and un-green places in the world.
It starts with air quality. So many people living in such a small place which contains as many carbon-burping buses, building equipment and factories relative to anywhere will create hygiene problems.

However, Hong Kong ranks ninth in the world for the most disgusting air (after Beijing, New Delhi, Santiago, Mexico City, Ulaanbaatar, Cairo, Chonqing and Guangzhou). And efforts to reduce it – to the tune of HK$29bn (approximately R25bn) since 1999 – have failed miserably. According to a publication called The Daily Finance using data collected by the pollution in 2010 was as bad as the pollution in 1995, and a Gallup Poll reveals that 70% of Hong Kong residents are unhappy with the air quality here (to be fair, though, 70% of Hong Kongers do look unhappy in general).

The air alone is not the problem. An even larger issue is the lack of space to throw rubbish in this, the most disposable of cities. Recycling in Hong Kong is not unheard of. It just isn’t done. Of the four countries I have lived in, Hong Kong is easily the least renewable, although according to the South China Morning Post, one out of every three tonnes of rubbish is recycled.

I proffer my scepticism of that claim as not one piece of rubbish that I have produced in Hong Kong has undergone that treatment – not unless I drag it to the bins at the bottom of the escalator every morning which is about a kilometre away, and treated as ordinary refuse receptacles by the pedestrians of town’s main thoroughfare.

The problem is this: landfill sites are nearly full and attempts by the government last year to convert half of a country park into one were rejected. Are we to expect a new skyscraper of Chinese takeaway containers? Or will Hong Kong pay a poor country with space to take it away and do something with it? The Philippines should have a bit of extra room as a large portion of its female inhabitants clean houses here.

The only discernible victory the greenies – of which there are seemingly few – have made here is to turn one of the down escalators off in the underground stations outside peak hours – which is something like after 22:30pm – saving a portion of electricity used by the city.

Well, below is what the city’s skyline looks like at night.

Excuse me while I laugh myself to death with rapid inhalation of the ninth dirtiest air in the world.

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. 

Send your comments to Simon

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.