Age is not the problem

March 5th, 2014 atam Posted in Climate change, Food, General | No Comments »

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary keeps warning that the city needs to have plenty of reserves in store because its ageing population will impose an increasing burden on the government’s coffers.

Not if more of them are like Yuichiro Miura, the climber who conquered Mount Everest aged 80. There’s a nice company in North Point which had a receptionist who worked into her 70s. She became such an institution that when the managing director got to the office every morning, he’d bow to her before going in.

There aren’t many such companies in Hong Kong and there aren’t many such workers either. And at the rate the city’s young flock to dessert buffets around town, there definitely won’t be many of them around being active and productive as the decades roll on. Mr Tsang has reason to be worried, especially since he didn’t know how to raise additional revenue to cover the ballooning healthcare cost.

Well, how ’bout introducing a “sugar tax”, as the UK government’s considering doing? In various countries around the world, governments are waking up to the potential cost of poor diet and imposing taxes on sugary drinks, junk food or obesity itself.

Poor diet is not the only problem though; lack of exercise is also detrimental to health. Apparently some people applauded Mr Tsang when they realised he would not be raising the first registration tax for cars. What was he thinking? In a densely packed city with an excellent public transport network, why let people burn fossil fuels clogging up the roads? On a minibus once, I saw a man hop on at the top of some steps leading to a road about 150 metres downhill – where he got off, after the minibus had negotiated the bend that led from the upper road to the lower one. He wasn’t even obese. Is there anything wrong with a little bit of walking?

Mr Tsang’s budget speech came barely one month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced the release of its Fifth Assessment Report, the summary of which began, in bold, with: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, human influence on the climate system is clear, and limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Not that Mr Tsang made any reference to any government plan to address the issue. Definitely not a carbon tax, shock horror. Especially not when nothing but a bout of severe cold has affected Hong Kong, even though the eastern parts of Canada and the US were swept with ice storms, the UK suffered the biggest deluge in more than a century and Singapore and Malaysia are suffering unprecedented drought.

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