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Put Clocks Forward To Cut Down On Eectricity Consumption

SCMP – Updated on Jan 06, 2009

Letters have appeared in these columns advocating so-called “energy efficient” light bulbs and criticising excessive lighting of buildings, described as light pollution.

The spectacular night view of the harbour is one of our tourist attractions, but it comes at a cost. As darkness falls, the lights come on, everywhere in Hong Kong, consuming electricity which pollutes our air and contributes to global warming. It would cost a fortune to replace every bulb with energy efficient bulbs and as Robert Hanson points out (“Energy saving bulbs do not live up to name”, January 3), these bulbs are more damaging to the environment than conventional bulbs. Fortunately there are other ways to save electricity, ones with no adverse ecological effects. On the shortest day of last year and including the twilight periods at the end of the day, we had daylight from 6.33am to 6.09pm. In June we will have daylight at 5.15am. Do we need daylight so early in the morning?

If we advance our clocks and adopt GMT plus nine hours as our standard time throughout the year, we will avoid wasting morning daylight and postpone the need for evening lighting by one hour. We had daylight saving from 1941 to 1979. Clocks were put forward an hour from the beginning of April to the end of October. In 1973 the government responded to the oil price crisis by implementing daylight saving from December 1973 to October 1974. We now have energy, pollution and global warming crises and similar measures are called for.

In 1974 we had double-shift schools and factory shifts and early daylight was deemed necessary, but today our schools are single shift, our factories have gone and we are a 9 to 5 economy. We do not need early daylight. If we also have summer daylight saving (GMT plus 10), on the longest day of the year dawn would break at 7.15am and daylight would last until 9.35pm. The electricity savings and social benefits would be significant.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has said the developed world should tackle climate change and alter its unsustainable lifestyle. Hong Kong is part of the developed world and part of China. We must act responsibly and set an example.

Robert L. Wilson, Discovery Bay

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