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Air pollution costs trillions

Premature deaths due to air pollution cause annual global costs of about US$225 billion in lost work days, and more than US$5 trillion in welfare losses, according to a new study.

http://airclim.org/acidnews/air-pollution-costs-trillions

Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of contracting cancers and heart, lung and respiratory diseases. According to the latest available estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), 5.5 million premature deaths worldwide, or 1 in every 10 deaths, in 2013 were attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution.

A joint study, entitled “The Cost of Air Pollution: Strengthening the economic case for action”, published by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, has estimated the costs of premature deaths related to air pollution.

Using the WHO estimates of premature mortality attributable to air pollution, the study valued the economic costs following two different approaches: Firstly a welfare-based approach that monetizes the increased fatality risk from air pollution according to individuals’ willingness to pay, and secondly an income-based approach that equates the financial cost of premature mortality with the present value of forgone lifetime earnings.

In 2013, the cost to the world’s economy of welfare losses due to exposure to ambient and household air pollution amounted to some US$5.11 trillion. In terms of magnitude, welfare losses in South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific were the equivalent of about 7.5 per cent of the regional gross domestic product (GDP), while in Europe and North America they were equal to respectively 5.1 and 2.8 per cent of GDP. At the low end, losses were still equal to 2.2 per cent of GDP in the Middle East and North Africa.

It is pointed out that the full costs of air pollution to society are even greater than is reported in the study. Examples of other costs not included in this report are the costs of illnesses (e.g. hospital care, medication), reduced output of agricultural crops, damage to natural ecosystems and cultural heritage, and lowered economic competitiveness of growing cities.

On top of being a major health risk, air pollution is also a drag on development. By causing illness and premature death, air pollution reduces the quality of life. By causing a loss of productive labour, it also reduces productivity and incomes.

According to the study, annual labour income losses cost the equivalent of 0.83 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in South Asia. In East Asia and the Pacific, where the population is ageing, labour income losses represent 0.25 per cent of GDP, while in Sub-Saharan Africa, where air pollution impairs the earning potential of younger populations, annual labour income losses represent 0.61 per cent of GDP.

“Air pollution is a challenge that threatens basic human welfare, damages natural and physical capital, and constrains economic growth. We hope this study will translate the cost of premature deaths into an economic language that resonates with policy makers so that more resources will be devoted to improving air quality. By supporting healthier cities and investments in cleaner sources of energy, we can reduce dangerous emissions, slow climate change, and most importantly save lives,” said Laura Tuck, Vice President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank.

Christer Ågren

The report: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/25013

World Bank press release, 8 September 2016: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2016/09/08/air-pollution-…

Hongkongers could benefit from new air pollution mask that’s six times more effective than rivals

After months of development, a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and many pre-orders, a Swedish start-up has launched the Airinum Urban Breathing Mask to meet growing global demand

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/2050738/hongkongers-could-benefit-new-air-pollution-mask-thats-six?cx_tag=recommend_desktop#cxrecs_s

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When Alexander Hjertstrom moved from his native Sweden to the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in the autumn of 2014, he suffered the return of an old fiend: asthma.

The intense air pollution in the city had caused his long-gone respiratory condition to return.

Hjertstrom, then a master’s student on a six-month exchange at the Indian Institute of Management, found that wearing an anti-pollution breathing mask was the most effective way to protect himself. However, he found most masks on the market were primitive and far from perfect in design and construction. They were certainly not appealing to wear every day.

Upon his return to Sweden after finishing a research project on air pollution while in India, Hjertstrom discussed the problem with three friends. Living in Sweden, the clean Scandinavian air was something all four had taken for granted.

“Given how acute the problem of air pollution was and the poor product offerings we could find, we decided to do something about it,” says Fredrik Kempe, a childhood friend of Hjertstrom.

They came up with the Airinum Urban Breathing Mask, which its founders term a “next generation anti-pollution mask”. In tests it has been shown to protect wearers up to six times better than other widely available masks.

After months of development, a very successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and large number of pre-orders, the company opened their online shop for worldwide sales on December 1.

“Compared to all other civilian masks that we’ve found, purchased and tested, our mask really works,” says Kempe, Airinum’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, who has a master’s degree in innovation management.

“Many masks out there today either lack proper filter technology, or they have a poor fit, resulting in leakage and poor filtration. Our mask uses high-quality filters tested here in Sweden in collaboration with Camfil, a global leader in the air filter industry. The construction of the mask has been developed, tested and iterated over the past year to achieve the perfect fit.”

Anti-pollution masks are big business, particularly in smoggy China, where face masks even feature on fashion show catwalks. Sales of masks in China reached 1.7 billion units in 2014, a 20 per cent increase year on year, according to Chinese market research firm Daxue Consulting.

Airinum looks similar to other high-end masks on the market, such as Vogmask, currently the leading face mask in China, and Cambridge Mask. But Kempe says Airinum’s Urban Breathing Mask is “completely different”. For one thing it has a unique changeable filter system, while Vogmask’s filter is permanently sewn into the mask and does not have reusable exhalation valves. So once Vogmask’s filter reaches the end of its useful life (hundreds of hours), or starts to leak, a new mask has to be bought.

Airinum’s mask has proprietary changeable filters that use a three-layer, hi-tech filter technology which protects against up to 99 per cent of viruses, bacteria, allergens and smog. External tests have shown the mask to have better filtration efficiency than the N95 filter mask requirements set forth by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. For easy breathing, the mask has two custom-made exhalation valves – essential to let warm, moist air out of the mask.

For the perfect fit, the mask uses stretchable material that fits the contours of the wearer’s face. Adjustable ear loops and an elastic binding surrounding the mask ensure a tight seal around the face. The mask comes in five sizes to suit both children and adults.

For some aesthetic flair, the founders sought the expertise of renowned Scandinavian creative minds – Mattias Wiklund, the menswear pattern maker at Swedish fast fashion chain H&M, and Kemal Alidzikovic, who works with Swedish fashion/function brands such as Acne and Haglofs.

The Kickstarter campaign, which ran for five weeks in November and December 2015, gathered up €70,743 (HK$581,522) from 1,386 backers in more than 30 markets, including Hong Kong. Airinum also received funding from the Swedish government, business angels and an accelerator programme in Stockholm.

The Urban Breathing Mask costs US$75 and the price includes the mask and two filters, which last up to 200 hours. The company plans to offer a long-term subscription service for filters.

China’s Lung Cancer Epidemic is a Global Problem

In the West, China is arguably most well-known for its enormous population and the one child policy introduced in the 1970s to control it. Earlier this year, however, that policy was officially rescinded in order to combat a problem that most people generally associate with Europe or Japan: a rapidly falling population.

http://moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1961:china-s-lung-cancer-epidemic-is-a-global-problem&Itemid=135

Indeed, after four decades of suppressing population growth, China is now afflicted by the problem of increasing numbers of retirees dovetailing with dwindling numbers of young people joining the workforce. Making things worse, China’s breakneck pace of economic development is now a major cause of preventable deaths every year. Air pollution and rampant smoking rates are making a bad demographical problem worse and Chinese authorities are slowly coming around to the idea that there is a direct connection between its population’s health and its economic prospects.

Today in China there are about 5 workers for every retiree. Given current population trends, by 2040 that ratio will stand at 1.6 workers for every retiree. The average age will rise from under 30 now to 46, with the number of people over 65 reaching 329 million by 2050, up from 100 million in 2005. The burden that this will place on the social services needed to care for the elderly in the face of falling tax revenues from a diminished workforce is only exacerbated by the fact that the country’s runaway cancer rates means that more of its elderly population will be in need of state care. Many of those sick beds will be taken up by lung cancer patients. With 600,000 deaths caused by the disease every year, expected to rise to 700,000 by 2020, China has the highest number of lung cancer patients in the world. And with an estimated 4,000 deaths a day caused by industrial pollution alone, grassroots organizations have finally decided that enough is enough and are beginning to agitate for something to be done to improve living standards.

Residents of China’s smog-filled cities have suffered for years, but it was a documentary released this year about China’s environmental problems that finally sounded a clarion call for Chinese people to rally to. Produced by Chai Jing, a former China Central news anchorwoman, the documentary racked up hundreds of millions of views before being scrubbed from the Internet by the authorities fearing that it could create a groundswell of discontent that could spill over into mass protests. Realizing the depth of feeling, the government has scrambled to get out ahead of the situation and declared its own ‘war on pollution’, culminating with President Xi’s historic agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions sign the Paris climate agreement.

As up hill a struggle as reducing industrial pollution will prove for the Chinese authorities, the other leading cause of lung cancer in China is set to present even more of a challenge. Nearly 70 percent of Chinese men are addicted to tobacco, one in three of whom are expected to die from the habit – by 2030, over two million people would die every year from smoking if nothing changes. Current tobacco reduction efforts in the country are hampered by poor enforcement and the massive influence of the state owned cigarette manufacturer, China National Tobacco Corporation, which supports millions of jobs among tobacco farmers and retailers.

Further frustrating the drive to curb tobacco use is the fact that China has signed up to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which does not recognize e-cigarettes as an efficient way of quitting, despite the fact that over 10 million people have given up the habit thanks to vaping. The FCTC’s latest meeting in New Delhi raised new obstacles to the prospect of the organization softening its stance, after delegates blocked journalists and e-cigarette producers from even observing the meetings. In line with the Convention’s advice, China is expected to take measures that will restrict e-cigarettes and tobacco alike, with the ultimate aim of banning both.

While these obstacles may seem nearly insurmountable to China’s anti-tobacco agenda, there are lessons that can be carried over from its anti-pollution drive. International pressure has played a big part in getting China to face up to its killer smog and chemical problem, a problem with which Western countries are all too familiar from their own experiences in the previous century.

As noted in Chai’s documentary, when it comes to dealing with these issues China finds itself in a comparable position to the West in the 1950s, quickly growing and struggling to contain the environmental fallout. Ending on a bright note, the documentary references London and Los Angeles, both of which were regularly choked by haze in the 1940s and 50s, but managed to massively curb their pollution levels once they faced them head on. In getting to grips with its own problems, China is going to need all the help it can get from international partners and institutions if it is to save some of the millions of lives expected to be lost to lung cancer over the coming decades. Given the increasing importance to the world economy of a healthy and plentiful Chinese workforce, their success or failure in this endeavor is of global significance.

Danish surplus-food stores show way for Hong Kong to cut food waste

http://www.scmp.com/print/lifestyle/food-drink/article/2049730/danish-surplus-food-stores-show-way-hong-kong-cut-food-waste?_=1480311512441

Wasteful Hong Kong, which consigns more than 25,000 tonnes of food to landfills every week, could learn a lesson from Denmark, where a supermarket selling surplus food has been so popular it recently opened a second store.

After launching in Copenhagen’s gritty inner city district of Amager earlier this year, the Wefood project this month attracted long queues as it opened a second branch in Norrebro, a trendy neighbourhood popular with left-leaning academics and immigrants.

Hipsters rubbed shoulders with working-class mums as a cooking school founded by Claus Meyer – a co-founder of Copenhagen’s celebrated Noma restaurant – handed out cauliflower soup and bread made from surplus ingredients.

“It’s awesome that instead of throwing things out they are choosing to sell it for money. You support a good cause,” says Signe Skovgaard Sorensen, a student, after picking up a bottle of upscale olive oil for 20 kroner (HK$22).

“Isn’t it great?” pensioner Olga Fruerlund says, holding up a jar of sweets that she planned to give to her grandchildren for Christmas. The sweets “can last for a hundred years because there is sugar in them”, she adds.

Selling expired food is legal in Denmark as long as it is clearly advertised and there is no immediate danger to consuming it. “We look, we smell, we feel the product and see if it’s still consumable,” project leader Bassel Hmeidan says.

All products are donated by producers, import and export companies and local supermarkets, and are collected by Wefood’s staff, all of whom are volunteers. The store’s profit goes to charity.

Prices are around half of what they would be elsewhere, but even its biggest fans would struggle to do their weekly shop here. The products available depend on what is available from donors, resulting in an eclectic mix that changes from day to day.

One weekday afternoon, Wefood customers were greeted by a mountain of Disney and Star Wars-branded popcorn, while the fresh fruit section had been reduced to a handful of rotting apples.

In Hong Kong, food banks solicit food past its sell-by date from supermarkets and other stores, but the response has not been encouraging.

“Managers always like to tell of how some stores used to donate until they got sued. This is particularly true since strict liability is imposed on food products,” Wendell Chan, project officer at Friends of the Earth (HK), recently wrote in the South China Morning Post.

“We estimate that businesses throw out HK$60 million worth of food yearly when almost half of low-income families lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food,” he wrote.

Writing ahead of World Food Day on October 16, Chan said Hong Kong throws out more than 3,600 tonnes of food as waste every day.

Food waste has become an increasingly hot topic in recent years, with initiatives ranging from a French ban last year on destroying unsold food products, to a global network of cafes serving dishes with food destined for the scrap heap.

British-based The Real Junk Food Project also opened the country’s first food waste supermarket in a warehouse near the northern city of Leeds in September. With a greater focus than its Danish peer on feeding the poor, the British project urges customers to simply “pay as they feel”.

A United Nations panel said earlier this month that supermarkets’ preference for perfect looking produce and the use of arbitrary “best before” labels cause massive food waste that, if reversed, could feed the world’s hungry.

Nearly 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, more than enough to sustain the one billion people suffering from hunger globally, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says.

Denmark has managed to reduce its food waste by 25 per cent over the past five years, partly due to the influential “Stop Wasting Food” group founded by Russian-born activist Selina Juul in 2008.

Juul grew up in the 1980s Soviet Union and says she was shocked by the amount of food being thrown away in Denmark when she moved there as a 13-year-old in 1993.

“Surplus food has become very popular,” she says of one of the measures advocated by the group: offering heavy discounts on items that are about to expire, which is now done by most Danish supermarkets.

Inspired by Juul, one of Denmark’s biggest discount chains, Rema 1000, has become an unlikely champion in the battle against food waste. Two of its main initiatives are about reducing waste after the product has been sold: the company stopped offering bulk discounts in 2008 so that single-person households would not buy more than they could eat.

Last year it reduced the size and price of some of its bread loaves for the same reason.

“The biggest problem with food waste is among the customers,” says John Wagner, the chief executive of the Danish Grocers’ Association. Regular supermarkets are becoming better at forecasting demand for different products, but they need to do more to inform their customers that a lot of food is edible beyond its expiry date.

Wefood next year plans to open in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, but Wagner says the brand is unlikely to become a major chain.

“The problem should be solved before we get to the point where we have to give the products to a store like Wefood,” he says.

Additional reporting by Mark Sharp
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/food-drink/article/2049730/danish-surplus-food-stores-show-way-hong-kong-cut-food-waste?_=1480311512441

Auditor finds massive increase in illegal dumping of construction waste in Hong Kong

The report from the Audit Commission came a week after the Office of the Ombudsman announced it would launch a probe into the environmental protection, planning and conservation departments handling of illegal landfilling

The Environmental Protection Department lost HK$4 billion in foregone revenue over the last decade due to “significant under-recovery” of costs in providing disposal and sorting facilities for construction waste, according to the government auditor.

The department was slammed for lax enforcement over the illegal dumping of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, with the number of reported cases across the city tripling from 1,500 in 2005 to 6,500 last year.

The report from the Audit Commission came a week after the Office of the Ombudsman announced it would launch a probe [1] into the environmental protection, planning and conservation departments handling of illegal landfilling and fly-tipping cases on private land.

“In 2014-15, only 33 per cent, 44 per cent and 63 per cent of the costs of providing disposal services at sorting facilities, public fill banks and landfills were respectively recovered from the charges,” the auditor stressed. “From 2006-07 to 2014-15, the estimated unrecovered cost totalled HK$3.81 billion.”

The auditor stressed that charge rates under the existing scheme had not been revised or reviewed since 2006, despite nearly 10 years of repeated requests by the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau. It has only recently agreed to do so based on a “user-pay principle”.

“The lack of revisions to the charge rates in the past years to recover the costs incurred had reduced the effectiveness of the charging scheme on providing economic incentives for producers of abandoned C&D materials to reduce generation … practise waste sorting,” it said.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) currently charges HK$27 per tonne at public fill banks, HK$100 at sorting facilities and HK$125 at landfills.

The auditor urged the EPD to work with the CEDD to take measures to ensure fees and charges were “revised in a timely manner,” having regard to full-cost recovery principles, environmental implications and the impact on trade.

The EPD was also held to account for inadequacies in enforcing cases of illegal dumping.

It cited a trial scheme involving the installation of camera systems last year, in which 170 cases of illegal dumping of C&D materials was caught on tape. As of July 2016, the EPD had only taken prosecution action on 46 cases, the auditor said.

The slow progress was blamed on letters to vehicle owners being returned unclaimed, drivers or vehicle owners not providing details of cases and drivers claiming the dumping was carried out “under instruction”.

Both the directors of environmental protection and civil engineering and development said they agreed with the auditor’s report, pledging to strengthen actions to detect and prevent illegal dumping of waste and acknowledging that charging scheme needed to be adjusted.

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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2048766/auditor-finds-massive-increase-illegal-dumping

Hong Kong landfills overflow as household waste rises for fifth year running

The amount of waste dumped in the city’s overflowing landfills has risen for the fifth year in row with the bulk of it still coming from households, new data has shown.

Two-thirds, or 3.7 million tonnes, of the 5.5 million tonnes of solid waste discarded last year was comprised of municipal solid waste – rubbish generated domestically from homes, and commercial or industrial activities – most of it food, paper and plastics. The remaining 1.8 million tonnes was mainly comprised of waste from the construction sector.

The city discarded 3.57 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2014, 3.48 million tonnes in 2013, 3.4 million tonnes in 2012, 3.28 million in 2011 and 3.3 million in 2010.

Environmental authorities in 2014 implemented a blueprint to cut per capita municipal solid waste disposal by 20 per cent by 2017 and 40 per cent by 2022.

“Between 2010 and 2015, the amount increased at an average rate of 1.9 per cent per year, outpacing population growth of 0.8 per cent but slower than economic growth of 2.9 per cent,” according to a research brief by the Legislative Council secretariat.

A full set of official 2015 waste data will be released by the government before the end of the year.

Recycling rates for municipal waste dropped 23 per cent in the same period, driven by a sharp decline in plastic recycling caused by fluctuations in waste import and exports.

While household waste remained the lion’s share of the mix of municipal solid waste, the brief pointed out that this proportion was shrinking. The share from the commercial and industrial sector rose from 27 per cent in 2010 to 36 per cent last year.

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, who heads environmental advocacy for The Green Earth was “not optimistic” that the government would meet either target if waste charging was not legislated soon.

“At stake will be whether or not the government can get a bills committee formed for the waste charging bill before the end of the first quarter next year,” he said. “The volume of waste disposal is still increasing and whatever they’re doing now, it’s not stopping the bleeding.”

The Environment Bureau hopes to prepare the necessary legislative proposals for the implementation within the legislative term.

It has hinted at the need to introduce mandatory source separation for food waste to ensure diversion of food waste from landfills and to maximise the recycling potential of food waste.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2048341/hong-kong-landfills-overflow-household-waste-rises

Canada pressed to make clean environment a constitutional right

https://www.yahoo.com/news/canada-pressed-clean-environment-constitutional-162936015.html

A pioneering conservationist called on Canada this week to make clean environments a constitutional right — an idea forged decades ago and widely adopted but with mixed success around the world.

Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist David Suzuki said these protections must be enshrined in Canada’s bill of rights to prevent their degradation at the hands of less environmentally oriented governments that periodically come to power.

In an interview with AFP, he pointed to former Tory prime minister Stephen Harper, who during a decade in office (2006-2015) “began to dismantle a lot of our environmental laws,” and to the US President-elect Donald Trump who has called global warming a hoax.

“We’ve now seen a monumental earthquake kind of change in the United States with the election of Donald Trump,” said Suzuki, who turns 80 in March.

“In one election we could see the overturning of decades of environmental legislation that worked.”

The idea of clean air, potable water and healthy food free from heavy metals, pesticides, and other pollutants as a human right emerged in the mid-1970s.

The collapse of fascist, colonial and communist regimes led to an unprecedented wave of constitution making; more than half of the world’s constitutions in fact were written during this period.

This, combined with awareness of environmental degradation and the inadequacy of state responses, lead to more than 80 nations enacting some form of constitutional protection for the environment.

Yet ecological sustainability remains elusive for most.

Regardless, Suzuki lamented having to fight over and over the same battles of the last 35 years to prevent oil drilling in sensitive areas, the construction of hydroelectric dams requiring extensive flooding, or supertanker traffic along Canada’s pristine Pacific coast.

“We thought we won 30, 35 years ago,” he said. “Now we’re having to fight the same battles over again.”

“We can’t keep doing this. We have to change the way we have a relationship to the world.”

Canada, he said, needs hard rules not subject to political oscillations. “We need to enshrine these rights in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he told AFP.

– Hottest year on record –

Constitutional change does not come easy in Canada.

The constitution was patriated from colonial masters in Britain in 1982, but with the support of only nine of Canada’s 10 provinces.

Quebec, then under separatist leadership, refused to sign the document. Subsequent attempts to officially bring the French-speaking province under Canada’s wing provoked infighting that threatened to break up the nation.

Failing a constitutional amendment, Suzuki called for activists to redouble their efforts in the face of growing threats to past achievements.

“You’ve got to fight like mad,” he said. “You’ve got to be eco-warriors.”

To Americans musing about moving to Canada, he offered a stern message: “I’m not interested in rats deserting a sinking ship.”

“Now is the time for you to work your ass off to make sure that (the next four years) are going to be as good for the environment as possible, and work toward the next election,” he said.

On Wednesday, business and political leaders meeting in Marrakesh urged Trump not to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on fighting global warming.

It sets the goal of limiting average global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by cutting greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. On Monday the UN said average temperatures were already up 1.2 degrees Celsius.

Countries including the United States have pledged to curb emissions under the deal by moving to renewable energy sources.

But Trump has vowed to boost oil, gas and coal.

Suzuki praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for championing the Paris accord, but questioned Ottawa’s paradoxical support for the construction of new pipelines to move Canadian oil to tidewater in order to reach new overseas markets.

“Why are we even talking about pipelines,” he said.

“If we’re serious about the Paris agreement, we have to get off the fossil fuels very, very rapidly. And in order to recover the cost of building a pipeline, you have to use it for 30, 35 years.”

Ombudsman to probe Hong Kong government’s handling of illegal waste dumping cases on private land

Watchdog seeks public views and information on government’s control over landfilling and fly-tipping activities

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2046612/ombudsman-probe-hong-kong-governments-handling

The Ombudsman will launch a direct investigation into possible inadequacies of the environmental protection, planning and conservation departments in handling illegal landfilling and fly-tipping cases on private land.

The self-initiated probe by the government watchdog comes amid an increased frequency of such activities in the New Territories and on Lantau Island, where loopholes in planning and waste disposal regulations often fail to curb destructive activities.

“Even though actions were taken by the departments concerned, those actions were criticised as futile and ineffective by different sectors of the community,” the office of the watchdog said on Wednesday.

Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing said the three government departments fell within the ambit of the investigation and that the focus of the probe would be on powers, responsibilities, mechanisms and procedures in regard to the control of such illegal landfilling and waste dumping. This would include their enforcement action and its outcomes.

“The aim is to identify inadequacies in the current legal framework, system and enforcement regime,” Lau’s office said.

In a bid to make the investigation “more comprehensive”, the watchdog is seeking views from the public and those affected from now until December 16.

Green groups have long raised concerns about private land – often old agricultural lots near or within ecologically sensitive sites such as country parks – being filled or dumped on in what they describe as “destroy first, develop later” tactics.

A massive “waste hill” in Tin Shui Wai drew public outcry earlier this year and exposed a thicket of government red tape and entangled bureaucracy in response and enforcement.

Meanwhile, a court fight with the government continues over private land dumping in Lantau’s Pui O coastal protection area.

Roy Ng Hei-man of the Conservancy Association welcomed the Ombudsman’s initiative and urged it to pitch real policy and regulatory changes.

“It’s a systematic problem. We have long held the view that amendments are needed in the waste disposal and town planning ordinances,” Ng said. “Those involved can still take advantage of many legal loopholes.”

One example, he said, was the waste disposal ordinance, which he stressed could not regulate illegal dumping on private land even in light of the environmental impact.

Ng also questioned why the Lands Department was left out of the investigation.

The departments said they would cooperate fully when the probe begins.

Nature already impacted by climate change: Study

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1295949-20161111.htm?spTabChangeable=0

climate-fish

Professor David Dudgeon says we can envisage that endemic species, such as the short-legged toad (bottom right) and Hong Kong paradise fish (bottom left) will be unable to adjust their ranges due to intense urbanisation. The Hong Kong newt (top right) and giant spiny frog (top left) will be threatened by warmer temperatures. Photos: Courtesy of the University of Hong Kong

Professor David Dudgeon speaks to RTHK’s Richard Pyne

A new study, published in the journal Science on Friday morning, says climate change is already affecting every aspect of life on Earth.

The research team, led by the University of Florida and with participation from the University of Hong Kong, examined 94 core ecological processes globally for evidence of impact from climate change.

These processes include things like species’ physiological and physical features, the time of year that animals breed and migrate, and the time of year plants flower and fruit. The researchers found 82 percent of these processes showed evidence of climate change.

They say the impact on people could range from increased pests and disease outbreaks to unpredictable changes in fisheries and decreasing agricultural yields.

Professor David Dudgeon, a co-author of the paper, told RTHK’s Richard Pyne that almost everything they’ve measured has shown a change as a result of the planet recording a one-degree rise in temperature.

“What you’re finding is that virtually everything that you look at is beginning to shift, and you would probably guess that as temperature rise increases the rate at which these shifts will take place will also increase,” he said. “We can imagine that perhaps the effects of climate change that will be felt soon have actually been underestimated and we’ll be seeing a lot more changes, more profound changes, than we would have expected.”

He said with this new research, we can begin to predict with some degree of confidence what’s likely to happen to certain species in Hong Kong. Species sensitive to temperature, for example, will shift their distribution to stay within a safe temperature zone.

Professor Dudgeon said mountain-top animals such as the giant spiny frog, which is already confined to the top of Tai Mo Shan, would have nowhere to go as temperatures rise.

He said projections for current carbon emissions would see temperatures rise by three to four degrees by the end of the century, which would mean the outlook for many species would be bleak and conservation intervention may be needed.

AGW Denialist and lobbyist Myron Ebell tapped to head the EPA

Myron Ebell was just tapped to head the EPA .

This is a short summary about him .

Choosing Myron Ebell means Trump plans to drastically reshape climate policies

Ebell is a well-known and polarizing figure in the energy and environment realm. His participation in the EPA transition signals that the Trump team is looking to drastically reshape the climate policies the agency has pursued under the Obama administration. Ebell’s role is likely to infuriate environmentalists and Democrats but buoy critics of Obama’s climate rules.

Ebell’s views appear to square with Trump’s when it comes to EPA’s agenda. Trump has called global warming “bullshit” and he has said he would “cancel” the Paris global warming accord and roll back President Obama’s executive actions on climate change (ClimateWire, May 27).

His lobbying clients in 2016 include Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, Southern Company Services, Dow Chemical Co. and Competitive Power Ventures Inc., according to public disclosures.

and

Tobbacco industry

The tobacco company Phillip Morris hired Ebell in the 1990s as Policy Director to mount a campaign to make regulating the tobacco industry “politically unpalatable”, and to advocate for acceptance of “safer cigarettes.”[12] As part of its “Control Abuse of Power” (CAP) project,[13] Ebell launched lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), respectively.

Media appearances

In 2001, Ebell stated his belief that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the EU and the rest of the world to harm America’s economy. He justified the allegation with a quote from European Commissioner Margot Wallström in her response to Bush’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol.[14] Ebell also called the UK’s Chief Scientist David King “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”; he added that since all scientists in Europe and in other countries outside the USA were funded by governments, none of them could be seen as independent

This really is the end of the world as we know it. 2 degrees increase is already baked in. This is going to make it worse for all of us.