Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Bicycle Transportation, Part 2
by Dante Archangeli

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.

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Bicycle Transportation, Part 1
by Dante Archangeli

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.

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Singapore vs. Hong Kong, Water
by Dante Archangeli

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?

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
“We need more bullets…”
by Dante Archangeli

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."

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Is the Ocean Safe + Clean?
by Dante Archangeli

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.

Review: Thirty Years, Plan Needed

Thirty Year Plan: Thirty Writers on What We Need to Build a Better Future, edited by Jennifer Sahn : Review by Andrew C. Gottlieb The premise for the anthology is simple: with a window of 30 years, ask 30 writers for short essays on one thing they deem necessary for the world, for the human population living in this world, on this planet.

Re-inhabiting Darkness: A Conversation on Art + Environment
with Paul Bogard and Christopher Cokinos

As the third in a series of cross-posts with the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment's Proximities, Terrain.org features a conversation between environmental writers and Terrain.org contributors Paul Bogard and Christopher Cokinos. Paul: I remember I was up in Quebec at the Mont Megantic National Park, and one of the folks there said to me that closing off our view of the universe isn’t the worst thing we’re doing environmentally, but it is symbolic of the worst things we’re doing...

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Air: You Are What You Breath
by Dante Archangeli

By Dante Archangeli Recent photos from the mainland China city of Harbin show visibility reduced to 10 meters because of air pollution. The airport and schools had to be closed.  The images make Mordor look good and Hong Kong air seem almost pristine by comparison. The vice director of China's Environmental Protection Agency stated "The heavy pollution of Harbin is due to weather conditions".

Hong Kong through the Looking Glass:
Shopping: Are the Dishes Washed?
by Dante Archangeli

By Dante Archangeli The cashier asked, “Do you need a bag?” Standing in International’s much longer than normal checkout line a fellow shopper and I were chatting. Our paths had crossed a few minutes before when he’d excused himself saying he’d left his glasses at home and couldn’t read a label. Were the oranges from China? He wasn’t supposed to buy produce from China. Normally he didn’t do the shopping. But wanting to stock up on provisions with Typhoon Usagi on the way he’d been pressed into service.