By Dante Archangeli Those who consume to the point of waste end up in the third circle of hell according to the Divine Comedy. Along those lines, the recent International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) conference, hosted by the University of Hong Kong, has me studying Pope Francis's latest encyclical letter as well as UBC's CIRS building, and thinking more about two possible faces of the sustainability Janus - reducing excess and regenerating the abundance of nature.
By Dante Archangeli Peng Chau is a hair under one square kilometer in area, but over 6,000 people live and work there. It's served by several dozen ferries a days, as well as a number of shops, restaurants, bakeries, temples, and shrines. But what feels most prevalent is bikes. And the air seems cleaner than in other parts of Hong Kong. Maybe car-dependent localities the world over can learn quality-of-life lessons from Peng Chau and other communities where bicycles are an important transportation component.
By Dante Archangeli ". . . we never became a bicycle-riding community of the sort found in . . . less prosperous Asian cities." Denis Bray, first Hong Kong Commissioner of Transport writing in Hong Kong Metamorphosis Mr. Bray's connecting bicycle-riding with lack of prosperity may shed light on Hong Kong's current leaders' dismissal of bicycling. Perhaps they consider biking to work or shopping as only what poor people in poor countries do because of necessity. That's unfortunate, because in today's world many affluent urban areas are encouraging bicycle transportation, not shunning it.
By Dante Archangeli We interrupt our normally scheduled posts for a special Holiday Season message . . . Dear Santa Claus, may I tell you the holiday sustainability cheer that I hope you will have Hong Kong's CY Leung "Santa" and America's John Boehner "Claus" deliver?
By Dante Archangeli Now that I don't own a car and frequently ride Hong Kong minibuses, I see more television, or at least commercial video, than I've seen since in years. Bus TV exposes me to Hong Kong phenomena that I'd otherwise be unaware of. For example, Fiona Sit has become my Cantopop muse. Other singers who are more doe-eyed or perky also appear on bus TV, but they don't match Fiona's arresting costumes, makeup, and imagery. This post looks at schemes beyond bus TV that Hong Kong and Singapore have implemented or are considering, such as Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), to incentivize people to reduce the use of personal vehicles on crowed streets and like I do, use public transportation instead.
By Dante Archangeli It's congestion and cold season in Hong Kong. Some roads are closed and others are clogged. You see more face masks and I'm 2 for 2 for a long lasting autumn cough. Both last year and this year doctors told me that cooler weather is probably the cause. I wonder if "cooler weather" is the face saving way to say "worse air pollution". In fall the prevailing winds change from coming from the south over the ocean to coming from the north over China and you can see and smell the worsening air.
By Dante Archangeli A few weeks ago I compared Hong Kong's and Singapore's (SG's) drinking water sustainability efforts. Now I'll begin to do the same for transportation sustainability. This post looks at one way HK and SG try to reduce vehicle traffic volume. In future posts I'll examine measures that the different locations have (or haven't) carried out to try to relieve traffic congestion, reduce individual vehicle tailpipe emissions, encourage public transportation use, and support bicycle and pedestrian travel.
By Dante Archangeli I recently filled out my mail-in ballot for Tuesday's election and am relieved that neither Hong Kong's C.Y. Leung nor supporters of Toronto's Rob Ford have a say in whether or not I get to vote. Additionally, after more than 30 days of demonstration, Hong Kong's Occupy / Democracy / Umbrella Movement (I'll call it the Umbrella Movement) is still going strong. The fervor of its supporters and the dismissive and condescending rhetoric of its opponents make me appreciate how lucky we in the U.S. are to have our form of governance, warts and all.
By Dante Archangeli Hong Kong and Singapore are both world-class "city states". And they are competitors. At least Hong Kong thinks they are. I don't know if Singapore feels the same way. Regardless of Singapore's and Hong Kong's sentiments towards each other, it's interesting to look at how the two compare based on sustainability standards. But first, how do they stack up on measures more people care about?
By Dante Archangeli "I remember the dead bodies of people from mainland China washing up on our shores when I was a child in Hong Kong during the 1960's," the Chinese man at the reception told me. "In 1967 or '68 my father was so worried that we'd be overrun by refugees escaping the Cultural Revolution that he sent me to live in Taiwan."
By Dante Archangeli "Oscar keeps asking me for more bullets ", Dev confided to us at lunch. Dev might be 20-something. Earlier Oscar told us he is 73 and looks older. Oscar is the caretaker of a tiny Southeast Asian island marine reserve (let's call it Ranganju, not it's real name). He grew up far away, at least 30 kilometers, on the larger, but still not large, adjacent island. Locals call it the mainland. Dev is the new reserve manager, grew up a little further away, and studied Buddhism at the University of Hong Kong. Buying bullets wasn't covered in the curriculum. Dev continues, "He tells me he shoots at poachers to keep them from running away when he's trying to catch them. I'm worried that someone is going to get hurt, probably Oscar."
By Dante Archangeli "Chinese people don't care about dirty water," Sam, my barber, asserted. We'd been discussing Hong Kong beaches and commiserating about how something that appears so beautiful from a distance can be so unpleasant up close. But Sam's declaration threw me for a loop. Just a minute before she'd told me about the beaches she wouldn't swim at because of the trash in the water and on the sand. "Ummm, but aren't you Chinese?" I asked. I knew that she'd grown up in Hong Kong, but my ability to differentiate Hong Kong Chinese from other Asian ethnicities isn't anywhere near as good as a native's. "Oh yes I'm Chinese" she confirmed with pride. "But I don't like to go swimming in dirty water. Other Chinese people don't care. They just go in." I suspect that nobody really likes swimming in dirty water and I hope the Hong Kong government cares. But it may have a narrow definition of dirty.