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Should There Be Laws To Control Light Pollution?

SCMP | Updated on Oct 25, 2008

You see neon lights all over Hong Kong. It does not matter where you are – Mong Kok, Central or Causeway Bay – you cannot escape them.

These neon [and other kinds of] lights sometimes illuminate advertising billboards and your attention is drawn to the product being promoted. But they are also a major cause of light pollution.

A simple solution would be to introduce laws restricting the size of neon lights and the length of time they can be turned on.

However, there is a problem with passing such laws. Hong Kong is famous for its neon lights. Many tourists look forward to seeing the harbour at night, with its neon signs on top of the high-rise buildings.

If strict regulations are imposed, this spectacular view could disappear and some people might decide not to visit Hong Kong.

Economic factors are always considered to be a high priority, but what about environmental factors? Light pollution may not be a serious problem for some residents, but it does adversely affect animals. Nocturnal animals are especially sensitive when it comes to the intensity of some lights.

If lights are too bright, it can affect their life cycle. For example, it must be very difficult for owls, which hunt when it is dark.

I think we do need to enact some laws to control this form of pollution. Apart from helping animals, it can ensure those residents who are affected by strong lights can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

B. Leung, Lai Chi Kok

I strongly support the idea of expediting legislation to ease the severe light-pollution problem in Hong Kong.

The reason is twofold. First and foremost, we cannot tolerate a deteriorating situation.

Even at midnight in Mong Kok, you can still see neon lights on. It does not even feel as if it is night. How can residents have a proper night’s sleep with all these billboards lit up?

These upmarket fashion firms which use the lights to advertise their products do not seem to care about our Earth. They care more about making a profit than trying to be environmentally friendly.

The government should take prompt action now to stop shops from keeping exterior lights on at night and lit-up billboards.

Our officials can no longer turn a blind eye to this problem.

Zalon Wong, To Kwa Wan

I strongly support the introduction of laws to control this form of pollution.

Many lights in the city are kept switched on when they are not needed, for example to illuminate advertising billboards throughout the night.

How many people will actually look at these billboards at 1am?

The excess of neon lights, floodlights and other lights near residential buildings is not good for the city. They consume a lot of electricity which in turn increases carbon dioxide emissions and these emissions are a cause of global warming. They disturb residents living nearby who have difficulty sleeping.

Even badly designed street lights are a problem. They should be modified so the beam of light is directed to the ground and not upwards. I am interested in astronomy and it really saddens when my efforts to stargaze are impeded in the name of development. This is not progress, it is just the building of more flats so property developers can line their pockets. I believe a reasonable regulation should be introduced, which would mean all floodlights on buildings (for example IFC and Bank of China) should be switched off after midnight.

Virginia Yue, Tsuen Wan

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