Friday, February 9, 2007

Charitable organizations and environmental groups

A friend commented on the situation of some under privileged highly educated members of the society, that some university graduates work as telephone salesmen or street salesmen of insurance, properties and telecommunication services, etc. I reflect on some colleagues who cry day and night on hard work, not being recognised of their effort, not able to cope with a demanding boss. I have sympathy on them, both my subordinates and my supervisors. However, I could not lie and give poor performer an excellent appraisal; nor could I answer all cold calls, visit all properties on sale, and subscribe to both NOW and i-Cable. I donate a large amount to charity, but I am also quite suspicious of the bogus charitable organizations which try to exploit my charitable heart for money. I usually ask the schoolboys selling flags on which organization they represent and the charitable services offered. I do not donate to people wandering in the street asking for money to help children and elderlies in the mainland. I do my own research and donate to reputable bodies, and I am poisoned by glorious stories and advertisements. In the end, I am content in giving only to medical charitable organizations and a few more I know personally, but not to environmental groups.

On my pessimistic mind, which is only so in this aspect, I view the effort of the environmentalist futile. All the facts they said are true: that human is warming up the earth, we are using up all natural resources, unfair (or too fair) trade deprives the developing countries, the growing gap of rich and poor, uneven distribution of resources and wealth. However, the problems cannot be solved just by asking the developed countries to save on natural resources, emit less carbon dioxide and give generously to the unproductive human population. First, people are short sighted and are overly protective of their vested interest. Second, developing countries will develop and produce more polluters and hungry consumers of resources faster than developed countries can save. Third, the growing human population will cause the global eco-system unsustainable. The have-not population will continue to grow while the supply of resources will continue to fall. We are heading towards a catastrophe, or a sudden big adjustment, or the twist in the kinky curve. This occurred many times throughout history. It can be caused by a violent revolution, nuclear war, incurable epidemic, sudden but long term climate change, a meteor strike, super volcano eruption, solar corona mass ejection, reverse of the earth magnetic field, rise of the hydrogen sulphide layer from the ocean, etc. We will eventually have an adjustment which could wipe out a very large percentage of human population, plus the civilization; and then hopefully we could start all over again. The expert said this will likely occur tomorrow or 1 million years later. I take that to mean 500 thousand years so that I can sleep well tonight.


  1. In this year, I think the word "Charitable group" is too imprecise and out-dated

    Again, Responsibility rather than Mercy

    Other than helping the poor, offering the victim, some groups are raising problems in public, retrieving public awareness, educating, advocating policy and so on. All these sounds far from Charity and Mercy.

    "NGO" may be another optional

    **Just my opinion

  2. Hmm, just read this article. I'm surprised that you adopt a fatalistic view towards the environment. I think you perhaps are a bit too pessimistic about what we could achieve as human beings if we put our minds to it. Going green increasingly makes business sense, and we have the technological know-how to convert our existing means of production into more sustainable modes. The key is whether we could help create the conditions for a virtuous cycle of sustainable development, so that from demand through to supply we are efficiently using the Earth's resources.

    To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed that even a person who is as well-read as you are, seem to approach the world from a them-vs-us mindset, rather than seeing it as what it is: a highly-connected politico-socio-economic system. I think Raccoonwao is right in pointing out that many of the developing countries are becoming "polluters" precisely because of First World demands, and that we could work on the demand-side factors ourselves to go green, and which could, and would, have knock-on effects on the entire global market and making it more green.

    Also, there is a quote that says that we didn't inherit our Earth from our grand-parents, we inherit it from our grand-children. We cannot shirk our responsibilities to ensure sustainable development just because we may not be around when environmental disasters strike. In any case, we have indeed witnessed environmental disasters in recent times, not least in Western Europe (severe flooding in Continental Europe in 2005, severe flooding in UK this sumemr), so I don't think you could sleep so easily as the catastrophe may well come within your lifetime and mine if we remain complacent. The thing is, sustainable development IS achievable. If you have a look at how Germany and the Scandinavian countries run their green economies, I think you will see there is a lot that we can do, and do we must.

  3. Thanks Raymond, I think the wake-up calls are all around us now when we're witnessing the melting of the polar ice caps, the heatwaves and flooding in Europe and Asia, the record-breaking unseasonal weather all around the world, etc. etc. So the warning bells have well and truly sounded. It is really whether individuals would care to heed them or not. The frustrating thing is, people are often way ahead of the curve than their government think in terms of green consciousness (e.g. in the U.S. it's the people in various states who voted and passed on various clean air legislations per the Kyoto protocol even when the Bush administration was still ignoring Kyoto and denying the existence of climate change... until now when even Bush himself can't deny anymore).

    Apropos of your other post also regarding the balancing role of politicians, I think actually that politicians should play a leadership role on issues that are clearly in the public interest, rather than just wait for public opinion to catch up. I mean, I often wonder for example, if the HK government could stand being unpopular over the removal of the Star Ferry pier, why can't it grow some back bone in developing and pursuing green policies? And do some proper research for goodness sakes rather than just go by hearsay! I remember at the time of the debate over the introduction of the plastic bag tax in HK (my family has the TVB Chinese satellite channel even though we live in Dublin), that some government officials held a press conference, and the one soundbite that was broadcasted in the evening news was this guy saying that there was no evidence to show that introducing the tax will really help reduce plastic bag usage! And I remember my family and I were all screaming at the TV to say, Hey, look at Ireland, we introduced a small tax (15c) and immediately brought down plastic bag consumption by over 90%, and the consumers love it (the shops have recyclable paper bags and/or cloth tote bags instead). This success was well-documented. And yet apparently some HK official had the cheek to say that nowhere in the world had it been shown to work...

    So forgive me for saying this, but I really think your pessimism is a bit misplaced. Not only has green living been done in other countries, but it has been done well with positive rather than negative impact on the economy. So it can be done and it has been done. All it takes is for HK to follow the great examples set by green economies (Japan, Germany, Scandinavian countries) and adapt them for the HK people, rather than follow the Bush line of denial until it's too late... After all, as you said at the end of your other post, people just have to "bite their teeth and adapt", and the time for us to adapt is now.

    Btw, have you read Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"?

  4. The wake up calls are ineffective as they do not wake people up. We need wake up atomic bombs.

    I am reading a book on externalities which concerns, among other things, plastic bag tax. I may write some notes on the subject later. One point raised by sociologists is that such a tax does not restrict the rich. If you have money, you can use as many plastic bags as you like, or any other wasteful stuff; while the poor suffers.

    I keep a copy of the film The Inconvenient Truth. At the same time, I also watched the BBC Channel 4 documentary the Global Warming Dwindle. One of them must be wrong. The facts that all of them agreed are the warming effects like melting icesheets, etc. The conflicting point is whether CO2 precedes warming or otherwise, and whether mankind is guilty or innocent. On the curve comparing historical CO2 concentration and temperature, both agreed that they are correlated, but the two cause and effect theories are just the opposite. I still cannot find the literature on the detailed data. However, while the debate goes on, the Earth gets warmer. It is high time to think of living in a warm Earth, such as protecting land from the rising sea, and alternative sources of fresh water.