Hong Kong’s Silence on Noise Pollution

Sogo Junction in Causeway Bay, where ambient noise levels can reach 118 decibels. Photo by James Shandlon After Karl Sluis’ richly-detailed map of New York City noise complaints was featured on The Atlantic Cities, my editor at the South China Morning Post got in touch about making a similar map for Hong Kong. Hong Kong […]

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Auto Invasion

Photo by Charlotte Huang Hong Kong’s not a big place, and with 28 million mainland Chinese visitors a year, it’s beginning to feel even more crowded than usual. The stress seems to have gotten to a lot of people. Over the past month, a handful of seemingly banal conflicts between Hongkongers and mainland tourists have […]

The Sea Breeze That Kills

People living near Hong Kong’s massive container port are being subjected to life-threatening levels of sulphur dioxide, says the author of a new government report on marine pollution that will be released later this year. Scientists, environmentalists and even the shipping industry accuse the Hong Kong government of dragging its feet in regulating pollution from […]

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In Hong Kong, Cleaner Water, Dirtier Air

Ronnie Wong’s swimming career began with a dive into Victoria Harbour. In 1968, the 16-year-old competitive swimmer joined hundreds of other men and women in a 1.5-kilometre race from the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to Queen’s Pier in Central. “The moment I jumped in the water, I didn’t care about anything, just […]

The Pearl River Megalopolis

Shenzhen from above “China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people,” announced a breathless headline in Sunday’s Telegraph, detailing plans to combine the cities of Guangdong province’s Pearl River Delta (PRD) into a massive urban conurbation. “Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, […]

Clean(ish) Water at Last

For years, the seven beaches along Hong Kong’s Rambler Channel presented swimmers with a conundrum: awesome views, filthy water. Pollution at the beaches was so bad in the 1990s that the government withdrew lifeguards and put up banners warning people not to enter the water. Now, more than a decade after the beaches were closed, […]

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Along the Buriganga

While railways are the nerves and sinews of India, rivers are the lifelines linking the cities and towns in neighbouring Bangladesh. Last spring, I was in Dhaka, the congested capital, with my brother. The city of 14 million people lies on the banks of the Buriganga. After getting lost in the atmospheric narrow warren of […]

A Chilly Fall Day? Perfect for a Swim

The first time I visited Beijing, almost two years ago, I had no idea about the existence of Sichahai, the three interconnected lakes just northwest of the city’s imperial heart. Built more than 800 years ago during the Jin Dynasty, the lakes later became the northern end of the Grand Canal, a 1,700-kilometre waterway that […]

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How to Clean Hong Kong’s Toxic Air

While Hong Kong’s air is significantly cleaner than cities in mainland China, its roadside air pollution is more than five times worse than other major cities like New York Hong Kong’s roadside air pollution hit record-high levels last month, with new data from the Environmental Protection Department showing that pollution at roadside monitoring stations reached […]

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Hong Kong’s Air Conditioning Addiction

It was just one night but it seems most people in Hong Kong could not go without air conditioning. Last Wednesday, about 50,000 households switched off their air-con units for Hong Kong’s first No Air Con Night, an event organized by the eco-group Green Sense to raise awareness of the environmental impact of air conditioning. […]

A/C/City

Air conditioning is a bit like a narcotic: once it claws its way into your life, you begin changing yourself to accommodate its demands. When air conditioning became common in Hong Kong, it changed the very fabric of the city, shrinking windows, destroying verandahs, turning streets into dripping, humming corridors meant to serve the useful […]

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Hong Kong’s Rubbish Problem

Photo by Tommy Wong Stroll along one of the many beaches that are not regularly cleaned by the government and one thing is clear: Hong Kong has a rubbish problem. When Dermot Mayes arrived at a remote beach near Pui O for the Coastal Cleanup Challenge, a month-long event in which 6,500 volunteers scoured Hong […]

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Too Dirty to Swim

Lido Beach Tsuen Wan, west of Kowloon, is known more as an industrial and commercial hub than as a seaside getaway. But until the early 1990s, the district’s seven sandy beaches, which stretch out along the Rambler Channel, were among the most popular in Hong Kong. As pollution from raw sewage worsened in the 1990s […]

More Pedestrian Streets, Less Pollution

Hong Kong’s government has finally decided that sacrificing its air quality in favour of cars, buses and trucks isn’t such a good thing after all. Yesterday, in a somewhat surprising departure from its reluctance to make big plans, the government pledged to fight roadside air pollution by revamping the city’s vast bus network, planting more […]

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