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Formula One Circuit Would Just Make Pollution Worse In HK

Updated on Oct 09, 2008 – SCMP

I refer to the letter by Guy Shirra (“We could have had F1 circuit”, September 30).

I would object to a Formula One track or indeed any other type of car-racing circuit in Hong Kong. In an age where global warming and pollution are primary concerns, the toxic emissions from petrol-driven racing car engines can only cause further damage to our environment.

While some may promote the alleged advantages of having an F1 circuit, such as the creation of jobs or the ability to attract tourists, the threat to human and environmental health far outweighs any perceived economic benefit. The deafening sounds from the cars would exacerbate the noise pollution problem in our crowded city. More importantly, however, the exhaust fumes generated through racing would harm the health of not only the residents living near the racing circuit, but also of those living further away, because air pollutants disperse widely. Car racing is an extravagant misuse of oil, a scarce resource which would be better utilised in buses and lorries, which transport people and goods. Racing cars serve no higher purpose than that of amusement, and unnecessarily contribute to our poor air quality.

Mr Shirra said we Hongkongers must somehow distinguish ourselves, to compete with cities like Singapore. Hong Kong is a vibrant city that draws millions of visitors – in 2006, we had 15.8 million tourists, to Singapore’s 7.6 million. However, many potential tourists may well be deterred by the air pollution and opt for greener destinations. Having an F1 circuit is not the hallmark of a world-class city. Having a clean, green environment where residents and visitors alike can enjoy city life, is.

We must understand that the Earth’s ability to sustain life as we know it is being threatened by human activities, and non-renewable resources are being wasted through their careless allocation. Let us be responsible citizens, and conserve the environment that supports our very existence. In this way, all that we take for granted from nature may still be enjoyed by future generations.

T. W. Wong, professor, department of community and family medicine, school of public health, Chinese University of Hong Kong

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