I see that after Spike's complaint, the SCMP published a series of sensible letters on Friday (Denying our role in global warming will cost the Earth - subscription required), including this one which I thought summed it up quite well:
Correspondents like Richard Straw miss the point. The argument that it has not been conclusively proved that we are responsible for global warming echoes protestations from tobacco companies that there is no conclusive proof cigarettes wreck your health. Whether or not it kills you, smoking is a filthy, antisocial habit.
The world is bent on pouring millions of tonnes of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, filling the seas, lakes and rivers with filth and devastating natural habitats. Stopping, or at least limiting, these activities is a fitting end in itself - and if it happens to help slow or halt global warming, that is a bonus. In the meantime, apologists like Mr Straw and Hong Kong's power stations use every flimsy pretext to carry on destroying the world for us and for our children. It is not my cornflakes that I am choking on, Mr Straw, it is Hong Kong's filthy air.
TREVOR HUGHES, Pokfulam
The thing that strikes me about all of this is that there are so many things that could be done without affecting our quality of life or costing very much money (indeed, some would actually save money).
For example, if all aircons allowed the speed of the fan to be adjusted it would be possible to provide good ventilation without making the place too cold.
Taking this a step further, buildings can be designed to have good ventilation and more comfortable temperatures without excessive use of air conditioning. The initial cost may be higher, but the savings in energy costs can be significant.
Several years ago (in the UK) I worked in a fairly old building that could be uncomfortably hot in the summer (often only on one side). Then the company installed "comfort cooling", which seemed to quite effective at moving cooler air from the side of the building that was in the shade across to the other side where the sun was making it hot. I am not sure how this all works or what is possible, but couldn't the hot air also be used to warm up the water from the mains supply for showers etc?
Anyone who has been to the south of France will have noticed that their older buildings have thick walls (and small windows), and hence stay very cool even on the hottest days. Most Hong Kong building are almost exactly the opposite, with thin walls and large windows, so not only are they hot in summer, they quickly become very cold when we have our few days a year of wintry weather. Surely it wouldn't cost that much to build thicker walls?
Finally, I have just noticed that Simon Patkin has responded to my earlier post on this subject. He seems upset that I am "sitting on the fence" and taking my usual rather sceptical view of both sides in this argument. However, I have to say that Simon himself seems not so sure what he is arguing. The title of an earlier post Global Warming is Not Man-Made, seems clear enough, but then he concludes his later post with this:
There is no overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is man made as Al Gore claims
Which is probably a fair point (though the grammar may leave something to be desired). However, clearly that isn't the same thing as saying definitively that global warming is not man-made.
I accept that there are scientists who have quite reasonable doubts about global warming. What concerns me is that companies such as Exxon (Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial) and assorted nutcases are using this for their own ends.
Even if there was overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming was man-made, I don't think that this would alter Simon's belief that we should ignore it and just get on with making as much money as possible (or doing whatever else is in our rational self-interest). Fortunately, many large corportations take a more enlightened view (Business has to do more to tackle climate change).