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June, 2011:

The difference between incidence and prevalence

Junk Food Companies Pay For Junk Science


he ADA thinks this is healthy, via Moderation Nation

Forget Big Tobacco (they own too many other companies as it is), Big Food is pumping millions of dollars into scientists so they can obfuscate clear cut research on obesity. The result is an industry that claims that the jury is still out on what exactly causes obesity, so in the meantime have another bag of Funyons. ABC reportsthe case of Dr. David Allison, a scientist who runs an obesity research center in Alabama and former president of the Obesity Society, who has taken $2.5 million in grants from the food industry, not including “consulting or speaking fees.” Allison was one of the scientists who claimed that New York City’s law mandating that the calorie count of foods be displayed would cause people to eat more (not true). “Big tobacco, big sugar,” one researcher says, “identical in the way they treat scientists.”

The researcher breaks down how the food industry plies doctors away from sound science, with “$5,000 to go speak to this meeting or that meeting. You get $2,000 to $5,000 a day. They’ll fly you on business class tickets to exotic places. They’ll take you to Paris or Rio.” Allison later resigned from the Obesity Society, but a larger issue may be the amount of money given to groups by the industry to buy silence from groups that may otherwise oppose them. After receiving $5 million from PepsiCo, Save the Children dropped their long-held promotion of soda tax laws. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia accepted $10 million from Coca-Cola, and even the ADA took money from the Hershey Foods Corporation, then published recipes on their website for“Fudgey Fruit Pizza.” Hey, at least it has fruit!

An article in the New Yorker last month (subscription) details how PepsiCo’s CEO Indra Nooyi is attempting to steer the second largest food-and-beverage company in the world towards producing more healthy snacks that also taste good, including “drinkable oats,” gazpacho, and coconut water. However what makes the company the most money are it’s “fun” products, like Lays potato chips and cold, cold Pepsi.

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

By Christopher Robbins in Food on June 22, 2011 5:39

Beijing’s new airport expects inaugural flight in 2017

Beijing has drafted the timetable for the construction of its new airport and it is expected the inaugural flight will take off in October 2017, the Beijing Business Today reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed insider.

According to this insider, a new airport is urgently needed in Beijing as the Capital International Airport can not absorb more passengers. The new airport plans to include nine runways, eight of which will be for civil aviation while the remaining one will be for military purposes.

The location of this new airport will be at the Yufa and Lixian township, Daxing district, in the far south of Beijing, according to previous reports.

The first phase of the project will occupy an area of 55 square kilometers and have a carrying capacity of 400 million travelers per year. In addition the passengers will be able to reach downtown Beijing by express rail within half a hour, the newspaper reported.

An aviation industry analyst said the new airport will attract investment, and promote industrial development and infrastructure building in southern Beijing. The huge passenger carrying and cargo loading capacities of the airport will have a significant effect on the economic growth and accelerate the integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.

The division of the functions between this new airport and the Capital International Airport has been under hot discussion. Rumors have it that one airport will target domestic flight services while the other will focus on international flights.

But Wang Jian, secretary-general of China Civil Airport Association, told reporters that it is more feasible to divided airline companies by airline alliances and assigned them to one of the two airports. .

Aviation Biofuels About to Take Off

By Dr. John C.K. Daly for

June 20, 2011 ( renewable energy/green newswire) An extraordinary convergence of recent events seems poised shortly to make aviation biofuels the belle of the investor’s ball.

The first is that on 8 June the follows the international standards certifying body ASTM International announcing its approval of its BIO SPK Fuel Standard, to be made official later in the year, of the use of hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) Jet A-1 fuel in commercial aviation. The potential financial implications are massive, as together the airline industry and the U.S. military use more than 42.25 million gallons (1.5 million barrels) of jet fuel a day.

One of the leading contenders for ramping up production of Jet A-1 HRJ is camelina, which has undergone extensive testing by both civilian airlines and the U.S. military. Camelina HRJ qualifies as a “drop-in” fuel, which can simply be mixed with regular Jet A-1 in a 50-50 ratio, allowing jet engines to function without any modifications.

In March 2010 Biomass Advisors released their 116-page study, Camelina Aviation Biofuels Market Opportunity and Renewable Energy Strategy Report, projecting that by 2025 one billion gallons of camelina biofuel would be produced for the aviation and biodiesel sectors, creating 25,000 new jobs and producing over $5.5 billion in new revenues and $3.5 billion in new agricultural income for U.S. and Canadian farmers. Biofuels Digest is projecting that global advanced biofuels capacity will reach 4.003 billion gallons by 2015, based on company announcements to date, with capacity reaching 718 million gallons in 2011, 1.522 billion by 2012, 2.685 billion by 2013, and 3.579 billion gallons by 2014.

Fuel and oil comprise 25 percent of civilian airlines’ operating costs. When the price of jet fuel rises one cent, it increases the global cost of aviation $195 million.

The second development is that the critical mass of HRJ fuels on both civilian and military aircraft has been completed, with various military and civilian aircraft flying with HRJ additives made not only from camelina, but jatpropha, algae, babasu and coconut oil, among others. Production is set to soar from small “designer” batches of HRJ produced up to now for testing.

Quick of the block in playing to the big boys, Neste Oil will showcase its NExBTL HRJ renewable aviation fuel at the Paris Air Show later this month and airlines in the Virgin Group are collaborating to attempt to develop and share aviation biofuels at their common port of Los Angeles International airport. More airlines are sure to follow.

Another unexpected development leveling the playing field for aviation biofuels was the unexpected vote on 16 June by the U.S. Senate to repeal tax credits worth about $6 billion annually for producing ethanol, produced from U.S.-grown corn. With its 73-27 vote, the Senate passed an amendment to end the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy the government gives oil companies for blending ethanol into gasoline and the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff it places on imported ethanol to protect the domestic market. Other biofuel producers for years have complained about the subsidies, which, contrary to popular imagery, go primarily to the oil companies, not small-time farmers.

Ethanol is the most heavily produced biofuel in the U.S., with nearly one third of U.S. corn production diverted to producing it while Brazil distills its ethanol from sugarcane, as an additive to gasoline. Other biofuel producers have complained that the subsidies both gave an unfair advantage to bioethanol producers but also soaked up much of the investment funding that might have other supported other renewables.

Between receiving formal approval for civilian airline use and the federal government preparing to end its support for U.S. ethanol welfare queens, sharp investors will be looking for potential winners on a playing field that is suddenly becoming much more level. And I haven’t even mentioned Pentagon interest in biofuels – yet.

A story for another time.


Camelina sativa, usually known in English as camelina, gold-of-pleasure, or false flax, also occasionally wild flax, linseed dodder, German sesame, and Siberian oilseed, is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae which includes mustard, cabbage, rapeseed, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts. It is native to Northern Europe and to Central Asian areas, but has been introduced to North America, possibly as a weed in flax.

Climate denial and the abuse of peer review

20 June 2011

On 20 April 2010, a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and creating the largest oil spill in history.

When President Obama sought to hold the corporation accountable by creating a $20 billion damage fund, this provoked Republican Congressman from Texas Joe Barton to issue a public apology.

An apology not to the people affected by the oil spill … but to BP.

In a peculiar inversion of ethics, Barton called the President’s measures a “shakedown”, finding it a “tragedy in the first proportion” that a corporation should be held accountable for the consequences of its actions.

What does a Congressman’s inverted morality have to do with climate denial?

Quite a bit.

In a similar inversion of normal practice, most climate deniers avoid scrutiny by sidestepping the peer-review process that is fundamental to science, instead posting their material in the internet or writing books.

Books may be impressively weighty, but remember that they are printed because a publisher thinks they can make money, not necessarily because the content has scientific value.

Fiction sells, even if dressed up as science.

During peer review, by contrast, commercial interests are removed from the publication decision because journals are often published by not-for-profit professional organisations. Even if private publishers are involved, they make their profit primarily via university subscriptions, and universities subscribe to journals based on their reputation, rather than based on individual publication decisions.

Very occasionally a contrarian paper does appear in a peer-reviewed journal, which segments of the internet and the media immediately hail as evidence against global warming or its human causes, as if a single paper somehow nullifies thousands of previous scientific findings.

What are we to make of that handful of contrarian papers? Do they make a legitimate if dissenting contribution to scientific knowledge?

In some cases, perhaps.

But in many other cases, troubling ethical questions arise from examination of the public record surrounding contrarian papers.

For example, in 2003 the reputable journal Climate Research published a paleoclimatological analysis that concluded, in flat contradiction to virtually all existing research, that the 20th century was probably not the warmest of the last millennium. This paper, partially funded by the American Petroleum Institute, attracted considerable public and political attention because it seemingly offered relief from the need to address climate change.

The paper also engendered some highly unusual fall-out.

First, three editors of Climate Research resigned in protest over its publication, including the incoming editor-in-chief who charged that “…some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common.”

This highly unusual mass resignation was followed by an even more unusual public statement from the publisher that acknowledged flaws in the journal’s editorial process.

Three editorial resignations and a publisher’s acknowledgement of editorial flaws are not standard scientific practice and call for further examination of the authors and the accepting editor.

The first author of this paper, Dr Willie Soon, is an astrophysicist by training. In US congressional testimony, he identified his “training” in paleoclimatology as attendance at workshops, conferences, and summer schools. (The people who teach such summer schools, actual climate scientists, published a scathing rebuttal of Soon’s paper.)

Undaunted, Dr Soon has since become an expert on polar bears, publishing a paper that accused the US Geological Survey of being “unscientific” in its reports about the risks faced by polar bears from climate change.

Most recently, Dr Soon has become an expert on mercury poisoning, using the Wall Street Journal as a platform to assuage fears about mercury-contaminated fish because, after all, “mercury has always existed naturally in Earth’s environment.”

Lest one wonder what links paleoclimatology, Arctic ecology, and environmental epidemiology, the answer is not any conventional area of academic expertise but ideology.

As Professor Naomi Oreskes and historian Erik Conway have shown in their insightful book, Merchants of Doubt, the hallmark of organized denial is that the same pseudo-experts emerge from the same shadowy “think” tanks over and over to rail against what they call “junk science”.

Whether it is the link between smoking and lung cancer, between mercury and water poisoning, or between carbon emissions and climate change, ideology inverts facts and ethics whenever overwhelming scientific evidence suggests the need to regulate economic activity.

So what of the editor who accepted the flawed Climate Research paper, Dr Chris de Freitas of Auckland?

Later, De Freitas co-authored a paper in 2009 that some media outlets heralded as showing that climate change was down to nature.

One of the authors, Adjunct academic Bob Carter from James Cook University, claimed that “our paper confirms what many scientists already know: which is that no scientific justification exists for emissions regulation.” Welcome news indeed, at least for the coal industry, but does the paper support this conclusion?


For starters, the 2009 paper by McLean, de Freitas, and Carter did not address long-term global warming at all.

It discussed the association between ocean currents and air temperature — in particular the time lag between the warm El Niño current and the ensuing increase in temperature.

Indeed, the article does not even contain the words “climate change” except in a citation of the IPCC, and its only conceivable connection with climate change arises from the speculative phrase “ … and perhaps recent trends in global temperature …” in the final sentence.

It appears ethically troubling to derive strong statements about emissions regulations from such a tentative clause in one’s final sentence in a paper on quite a different issue.

Such statements appear even more troubling if one considers paragraph 14 of the paper, which reads, “to remove the noise, the absolute values were replaced with derivative values based on variations. Here the derivative is the 12-month running average subtracted from the same average for data 12 months later.”

What happens to data if successive annual values are subtracted from each other? This mathematically removes any linear time trend.

In other words, temperatures could have doubled every other year and it would have escaped detection by the authors.

This removal of the trend did not escape detection by the scientific community, however, and the published rebuttal of this “it’s-all-natural” paper was as swift and devastating as it was for Dr Soon’s.

To remove the linear trend from temperature data in a paper that does not address climate change, and to then claim that nature is responsible for global warming and there is no scientific basis for emissions regulations smacks of an inversion of scientific ethics and practice.

Let us return to Congressman Barton.

Before apologising to BP, not for the nearly $3,000,000 he has received in contributions from the oil, gas, and energy industries, but for President Obama seeking accountability from the corporation, Mr Barton also sponsored a contrived investigation of the famed “hockeystick” paper by Professor Michael Mann and colleagues.

The hockeystick is the iconic graph that shows the sky-rocketing temperatures of the last few decades in comparison to the relatively constant temperatures during the preceding centuries. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences affirmed the basic conclusions of Professor Mann, as have numerous other papers published during the last decade.

Mr Barton, however, relied on a report by a certain Professor Wegman, who claimed to have identified statistical flaws in the analysis underlying the original hockeystick. (Even if correct, that criticism has no bearing on the overall conclusion of Professor Mann’s paper or on the numerous independent hockeysticks produced by other researchers.)

Professor Wegman subsequently published part of his report in the journal Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. Although normally a peer-reviewed journal, in this instance the paper was accepted a few days after submission, in July 2007, in an especially ironic twist as the paper tried to cast doubt on the quality of peer review in climate research.

Alas, the paper’s lifetime was cut tragically short when it was officially withdrawn by the publisher a few weeks ago.


The paper by Wegman and colleagues was officially withdrawn because of substantial plagiarism. Conforming to the typical pattern of inversions, Wegman also appears to have plagiarised large parts of his initial hockeystick critique for Congressman Barton, while additionally distorting and misrepresenting many of the conclusions of the cited authors.

We have examined just the tip of an iceberg of inversion of normal standards of ethics and scientific practice.

These multiple departures from common scientific practice are not isolated incidents – on the contrary, they represent a common thread that permeates all of climate denial.

Because climate denial is just that: denial, not scepticism.

Science is inherently sceptical, and peer-review is the instrument by which scientific scepticism is pursued.

Circumventing or subverting that process does not do justice to the public’s need for scientific accountability.

At a time when Greenland is losing around 9,000 tonnes of ice every second – all of which contributes to sea level rises – it is time to hold accountable those who invert common standards of science, decency, and ethics in pursuit of their agenda to delay action on climate change.

Stephan Lewandowsky is Australian Professorial Fellow at the Cognitive Science Laboratories at University of Western Australia.

This article was originally published on The Conversation – Reproduced with permission.

Merchants of Doubt

In their new book, Merchants of Doubt, historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway explain how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. In seven compelling chapters addressing tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming, and DDT, Oreskes and Conway roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.

Aviation industry is committed to addressing climate change impact

South China Morning Post – 20 June 2011

Richard Fielding (“Emissions accelerating, not declining”, June 13) rightly highlights the urgent need for society to address the global challenge of climate change and the role that aviation must play in this regard.

He also points to a little known fact that the aviation industry’s 70 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency since the dawn of the jet age has contributed to significant improvements in the sector’s environmental performance.

However, his assertion that today “aircraft and flights are a major source of anthropogenic emissions” fails to acknowledge that, in 2009, the International Air Transport Association and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that global aviation produced 628 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), representing some 2 per cent of more than 30 billion tonnes of CO2 produced by humans worldwide. They measured other activities such as land use change and forestry (25 per cent), energy from buildings (20 per cent) and road transport (13 per cent).

To address the projected increase in aviation’s share of global man-made emissions to 3 per cent by 2050, according to the IPCC, the industry set unprecedented global targets in 2009 aimed at reducing its climate change impacts.

These include capping emissions growth from 2020 and halving net emissions by 2050, based on 2005 levels. Massive investment in new technology, the introduction of sustainable biofuels, improved global infrastructure and adoption of market-based measures such as emissions trading will all be key factors in enabling the industry to meet these ambitious goals.

Mr Fielding links a seven-fold growth in overall global man-made emissions by 2050 under a “business as usual scenario” to the proposal for a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport. But aviation is not on a “business as usual path”. On the contrary, an alternative business model already exists – one that considers climate change as part of a wider need for sustainable development. A third runway, if approved, would be operational by the early 2020s, by which time many of the radical efficiency measures now under development within aviation would have already been realised.

The public can be assured that aviation is fully committed to addressing its climate change impacts, has a strategy in place for tackling them, is investing significantly in solutions and that sustainability is at the heart of our future business model.

Mark Watson, head of environmental affairs, Cathay Pacific Airways (SEHK: 0293)

Firms will veto curbs on pollution

South China Morning Post – 19 June 2011

On the matter of “filthy funnels” (“Laws needed on ship pollution”, June 19), I absolutely agree that Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta should enforce a no-emissions area and switch to low-sulphur fuels.

I assume you also mean to include factories in the delta region that also spew out vile stuff.

This is not going to happen soon, as too many parties are affected. Low-sulphur diesel oil is about 60 per cent more expensive than the heavy fuel oil now used, and a switch would dent shipping companies’ profits.

I seem to recall that we previously selected a shipping tycoon to run this place. We could also select a tycoon with factories spewing out viler stuff across the border.

In all places where such emission controls are in place, there is a mature democratic political system with enlightened voters who can join hands to get this measure through.

Declaring an emission-control area will open up a Pandora’s box. But emission controls could prompt a similar requirement at Shanghai and Tianjin , where the situation is similar.

Sanjay Relan, fleet manager,  Pacific Basin Shipping (SEHK: 2343,announcementsnews) (HK)

More studies demanded on third runway impact

18 June 2011

Green groups charge many environmental factors not addressed in airport study

The Airport Authority is attempting to dismiss environmental concerns about the proposed third runway, green groups alleged on Friday.

Nine environment groups argued the Airport Authority should address the influence on various aspects of the environment such as the marine life, including the habitat of Chinese White Dolphins.

It should assess noise pollution, and carbon emissions by aircraft and their affect on air quality, the groups said.

In this connection, they urged the authority to release more information and extend the public consultation period.

The Airport Authority responded that it already explained the findings in the preliminary impact assessment study.

The authority said it has collected invaluable views and that it will continue to explain the preliminary findings and carefully consider the views it received.

It also expressed hopes to conclude public consultation on Sept 2 as planned.

The Airport Authority recently published a consultation paper on planned expansion.

It contains two options, with the first being to maintain the present two runways to address medium-term development.

The second option proposes a third runway to increase the capacity beyond 2030.

The authority planned to consult the public for three months.

Nine green groups from Hong Kong on Friday had a three-hour meeting with Stanley Hui, the authority’s chief executive, and his senior management team.

Speaking to a media conference after the meeting, Thomas Choi, senior environmental affairs officer of Friends of the Earth, said the groups were concerned with air quality if the third runway goes ahead.

Besides, the report does not take into account carbon emissions by vehicles passing by the airport’s vicinity, including Tung Chung and North Lantau, Choi said.

Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said the authority has attempted to dismiss the impacts on the Chinese White Dolphins by modifying the document on dolphin movements that he had prepared for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The authority management finally apologized to the green groups. The environment groups responded that the authority should apologize to the public for having misled the people of Hong Kong.

Alan Leung, WWF Hong Kong’s conservation manager, also voiced concern for the environment of the Chinese White Dolphins.

He also asked the authority to provide more information on the ecological environment of the site designated for reclamation because the site is restricted area.

China Daily

Airport plan can’t take off without reliable growth forecast and cost-benefit analysis

South China Morning Post – 18 June 2011

The discussion over the airport expansion is being played out with few facts and much emotive fervour: if we don’t expand, Hong Kong will no longer have the great airport we have all become so used to. And that is, of course, a horrible idea, as I don’t know any airport that is as efficient.

Digging through the avalanche of slick advertising, the appendices of the technical report reveal the assumptions of growth behind the third runway. But where is all this growth going to come from?

After all, Hong Kong’s population is flatlining and the forecast growth in passengers goes well beyond the wildest arrival forecasts of visitors who intend to stay in Hong Kong for at least one night, or head for one of our gambling cruises.

As for cargo, the growth numbers are even more staggering. The anticipated volumes are well beyond what we make or consume in Hong Kong. So where are the flows supposed to come from?

Neither of these questions are answered. Rather than using detailed gravity models, growth in both passengers and cargo is forecast based on simple linear regression models along the lines of “gross domestic product will go up, people and cargo will move”. But does that make sense?

For a long time, Hong Kong was the only provider of international flights and quality cargo handling in the Pearl River Delta. Today, it handles 80 per cent of all international passengers and 90 per cent of all international air cargo in the delta. To assume it will retain that role is rather arrogant.

Proponents of a third runway say Guangzhou’s new cargo handling capabilities are not as efficient, and their customs operations are cumbersome. Surely Guangzhou will say they are ironing out the issues.

On top of this, the question is whether it is sustainable to run trucks between manufacturers and Hong Kong when they can and should have closer facilities. The additional fuel used and associated emissions, the roads that need to be built, the additional cost of trucks and drivers, all appear a bad business proposition and a burden on our environment.

Proponents quickly chime in to explain that it is not just cargo to and from the mainland; we can be the air cargo hub for the region. That business model involves flying cargo to Hong Kong only to repack it and send it out to other destinations on old, noisy and polluting planes. Travel trade representatives have tried scare tactics: if we don’t expand the airport, residents will no longer be able to enjoy direct flights to their destination, since competition for limited landing slots will result in the consolidation of routes.

In the same breath, they explained how everyone else in Asia should fly indirectly via Hong Kong – an expectation beyond belief.

The proponents of the third runway are asking the Hong Kong taxpayers to fund a HK$100 billion shortfall. What the papers don’t show are the external costs we will have to bear: more emissions from aircraft and associated road traffic; more noise pollution; the additional road and rail capacity to be built; the large pieces of land to be reclaimed.

It is unclear who, exactly, benefits from this investment. Yes, a huge “return” is identified but it simply says “more passengers and goods equal more money”. That’s an interesting circle, as the increase in passengers and goods was based on the simple “more money, more people and goods” model in the first place. There is no breakdown of origin and destination of the passengers or the cargo. Hub traffic brings few benefits to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong public would be better off with the development of high-quality airports with excellent air cargo terminals close to the destinations throughout the region. This would minimise energy consumption, pollution and traffic.

It would also take the pressure off Hong Kong’s airport. We can continue to invest in making our existing runways and airspace more efficient by fixing our air traffic control systems and procedures so we can handle our home-grown traffic well into the future.

If the proponents really want a third runway, let them pay for it themselves with landing charges – and, if so, please make sure that old, polluting planes pay more.

Paul Zimmerman is CEO of Designing Hong Kong

High Pollution Again

—–Original Message—–
From: []
Sent: Friday, June 17, 2011 15:18
To: Hotmail
Cc: Edwin Town; Christian Masset;; James Middleton;
Subject: High Pollution Again

Dear Mr. Furner,

Thanks for your email and suggestions on 29 May.

As said last time, the mass media receives hourly updates of the API
information through the Information Service Department. It is their standing
practice to report APIs at regular intervals.  The ‘very high’ level API
incident on 28 and 29 May was reported by various TV and radio stations as
well as newspapers. The MTR also displays API information at the message
boards at the entrances of their stations.

Regarding your proposal to install a large API display panel at the Central
air quality monitoring station (AQMS), please note that we consulted
relevant departments on a similar suggestion made by the Central & Western
District Council back in 2000. The Transport Department did not support the
proposal because the proposed display might cause pedestrian congestion at
the spot and was not desirable from traffic engineering point of view at a
busy street like that. In addition, the EMSD advised that there was no space
to accommodate the additional display at the Central AQMS. The proposed
project could not proceed because of the technical constraints in
installation, ongoing maintenance and safety concerns.

The suggestion to consider imposing selective vehicle restrictions on high
air pollution days at hotspots has been raised by the Council for
Sustainable Development in October 2008. It was found that such proposal had
not been applied in any overseas jurisdictions. Major implementation and
enforcement details, such as when to trigger the restriction, how much
advance notice be given to vehicle users, and how long such restriction
should be made, are exceedingly complex. You may like to know that we are
working to set up “pilot low emission zones” in busy districts such as
Causeway Bay, Central and Mong Kok, which would restrict the entry of
high-emission franchised buses.  We will increase as far as possible the
ratio of low-emission buses (i.e. those meeting the emission level of a Euro
IV or above bus) running in these zones from 2011, with the target of having
only low-emission buses in these zones by 2015 the latest.

Regarding the circular issued by Education Bureau (EDB), EDB has advised
that upon receiving EPD’s notification of the API at very high level in the
early morning of a school day, the EDB would immediately send a message to
schools alerting them to the very high API and to take the necessary
precautionary measures as advised in the relevant EDB Circular.  The
circular also advises schools to check against the API level at EPD’s

According to the EDB, almost all PE teachers in Hong Kong are trained
professionals.  They are able to make judgment on the suitable exercise
intensity for students without existing heart or respiratory illnesses with
reference to potential health implications as advised by EPD and the actual
air condition of the activity area, e.g. “very high”.   Sedentary lifestyle
is harmful to health, especially for students who are in the stage of active
physical development.  So EDB treasures all opportunities to promote active
and healthy style among students and encourage teachers to maximise the PE
learning time.  If there is proved evidence that it is not suitable for
students in normal health condition to have physical activities in a certain
API level, EDB will take the advice for the sake of students’
health and modify the learning content and strategies.

The API review study by the leading academics (including public health
experts and an atmospheric scientist) is in progress.  We will make public
its findings when ready.

As to your request for the provision of long-term air pollutant data, please
note that the data provided on “past 24 Hours Pollutant Concentration” web
page are provisional real-time data for calculating API.
These provisional data will have to be validated according to EPD’s quality
control and quality assurance procedures similar to the practices adopted in
the USA. The validation is to ensure the quality of the data. The data
validation process usually takes a few months. After validation, we’ll
upload all the data to EPD’s web site at the following link for public reference. Please feel
free to browse and download the air quality data you are interested.

You also asked about the emission data for power plants.  As power
generation is the biggest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, other than
imposing very stringent emission control requirements and emission caps, we
have required the power companies in the licences to install continuous
emission monitoring system at the stacks for real-time monitoring of their
emissions of major air pollutants and transmit the data to our office
through telemetry to ensure the emissions are fully complied with the
emission limits.  The data so collected are solely for enforcement purposes
and will not be further released to third parties.

To facilitate the public to get access to the emission performance
information of the power plants, we have required the two power companies to
post their emission quantities after data validation and auditing on a
quarterly basis at the following websites-


You may like to know that the power companies have already completed the
retrofitting of their major coal-fired generation units with emission
reduction facilities and increased the use of natural gas for electricity
generation for complying with the emission caps requirements imposed in the
licences.  With all these measures, the 2010 annual emissions from the power
sector of SO2, NOx and RSP have been reduced by 62%, 29% and 34%
respectively from the 2009 levels. Please be rest assured that we would
closely monitor the emissions from the power stations of both power
companies.  Should we observe any non-compliance with the emission limits,
we will take enforcement actions under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance
as appropriate.


WM Pun
Air Science Group