Wondering why HK’s getting hotter?

March 24th, 2013 atam Posted in Building, Climate change, Earth, General | 3 Comments »

Willful ignorance can be lethal. While the government and various organisations are pushing green building and showing off landscaped roofs every chance they get, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has apparently been quietly replacing natural sports pitches with artificial ones.

There was a story in the Post last Thursday (March 21) about artificial turf causing more injuries to players who also kick up bits of the rubber substrate, thereby releasing the heavy metals and other substances they contain. What the story doesn’t say, even though it mentioned that the temperature of artificial pitches is higher than natural ones, is their contribution to the urban heat island effect. So add a few green roofs and plant a few more trees; slowly but surely, LCSD is cancelling out their cooling effect or making things worse by introducing more artificial pitches.

Why is the department doing this? Lower maintenance cost, of course. But just as society continues to fret over the plight of those on low income, wouldn’t it be nice if the government could, instead of handouts or welfare payments, create some positions for gardeners? They can tend to the natural pitches and retain some dignity for doing valuable work. The trouble with the government, though, is that it loves throwing money at capital assets but baulks at spending the tiniest amount on recurrent costs – which usually involve human beings. Thus we have spanking new roads and artificial pitches that, by the way, don’t hold any water like natural pitches do and are therefore more prone to flooding, which will be more often thanks to heavier downpours associated with climate change.

Residents are right to be concerned. It’s not just the potential injuries associated with use of artificial pitches; their districts will get hotter as well as more artificial pitches replace natural ones.

3 Responses to “Wondering why HK’s getting hotter?”

  1. The interesting scene in Hong Kong is that… everything but the environment is important in decision making; and we have to explain in a kindergarten level why green matters. I always think the class of the Environment Bureau should advance to overlook all policies relevant to land use and the climate. Unfortunately still – only civic actions can make a bit of change.

  2. This seems to be a very good point: the HK Government is expecting building owners to spend money creating and then maintaining green roofs while practicing exactly the opposite by replacing natural green surfaces with artificial ones. What does the EPD have to say about this?

  3. Thanks for pointing out this newsworthy contrast, and also for the reminder about the government’s wrongheaded misbalance between capital projects and recurrent expenditure, which explains a lot of the bizarre decisions we see. And some of the needed investment in items other than concrete and steel could include better planning.

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