Posts tagged ‘Environment’

Reflections from Hong Kong: Sweltering And Rambling

DJI Phantom Lion Rock Hong Kong 獅子山頂
I take the stairs in leaping bounds, ambitiously striding upwards two concrete blocks at a time. After the fifth spread-eagling leap, I’m feeling knackered as the lactic acid is already pumping through my legs, choking them. My heart is pumping, blood thundering in my ears, and my breath bursts forth stochastically. But I soldier on. Two others follow me, and it would be intolerable to allow them to see me pause for even a moments rest.

I glance up the mountain again. Beads of sweat refract the sunlight into my dilated pupils, exposed after having nestled in the recessed shelter under the brim of my blue Danish Emergency Management Agency hat. A droplet twinkles as it jingles on a stiff strand of brow hair. The hydrostatic tension binds it to my right eyebrow, before it begins gracefully plummeting…downwards…into my gaping eye.

Pain. Brief blindness. Severe blinking. And then it’s over – the stinging salt of the sweat diluted by the relative freshness of the tear it brought forth.

This was my last Sunday, a day much like any other in the past 3 months, and one (yet again) necessitating the issuance of the “Very Hot Weather Warning”, by the Hong Kong Observatory – our local meteorological watchdog.

“Such days are becoming increasingly frequent here in the former British colony turned “Special Administrative Region”, and even denim-clad local is beginning to take notice.”

My forebears (i.e. the “Rents”) are Brits, and as such I have had occasion to journey back to the Motherland, that far-off, yet well known little (series of) island(s) sometimes referred to as “Blighty”. And blighted they are – incessant rains, sleet, fog, mist, etc. Any type of drab weather, and the United Kingdom is plagued by it! Accordingly, a typical characteristic of any true Brit is upon meeting another, to instantly bemoan the awfulness of the weather on that day. These interchanges inevitably beginning with exclamations of “Oh dear! The weather today is truly dreadful. It’s just so [hot/wet/cold/dry]!” [insert the Queen’s voice]

Having escaped that particular monotonous litany of dull weather-bound conversation in Britain, as of two years ago, I now find myself entering into similar dialogues here…in a former British colony…

Apparently, there is no escaping your heritage!

This particular hot day, Sunday 19th July, marked the 8th event this year which exceeded the balmy 33°C, putting us three scorching days ahead of last year’s incidences, and presenting pretty clear evidence that our native newspapers’ headlines may not be quite as hyperbolic as some like to believe.

The most widely read English language paper, the South China Morning Post, cooed earlier in the year as “Hong Kong enjoy[ed] unseasonably warm, dry weather in April”…unfortunately, this soon gave way to “More Hong Kong hill fires reported after hottest Ching Ming festival on record”. And as time has marched on “Up to seven typhoons and a hot 2015” has been heralded, and subsequently substantiated by “Hong Kong’s record heat likely to stay on the boil after hottest June in a century”. And it’s true. We are currently experiencing the hottest conditions in Hong Kong that we have ever had to contend with…at least since records began in 1884.

Plagiarising the Hong Kong Observatory verbatim, this month “the monthly mean temperature of 29.7°C was 1.8°C above the normal figure of 27.9°C and broke the previous record of 29.0°C set in 2014 by a wide margin of 0.7°C.”

“Compounding such temperatures, which admittedly pale in comparison with the heatwave in India in May, which killed over 2,500 as night temperatures exceeded 37°C (blood-boiling conditions) and as roads melted under the 48°C days, is the high humidity.”

According to the (hopefully) reliable “AccuWeather.com“, the last time I checked, under conditions of 31°C and 73% humidity, the “Real Feel” was more akin to 44°C…At the time, I certainly thought that assessment was accurate, as yet more sweat droplets beaded, dripped, and flowed in rivulets down the lightly creased, and bearded contours of my face…again pooling in the arches of brow en route!

There is a near endless stream of information and opinion (and sweat) I could espouse on the rising temperatures we are facing just here in our urbanised domain, but I’ll reign myself in here…and leave more thoughts for another day!

Courtesy of:

Sam Inglis MSc
Associate in Hong Kong
Odyssey Books & Maps

Concern for Kenya Cities

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Each day we walk, drive and board buses in silent fear. Who knows where the next siren will sound and lives lost. It is a scare that is killing our economy. Our breath is held by terror clip. I am left wondering who is a terrorist or why clear lives of innocent blood!

It is hard for families that have lost loved ones through this difficult cloud of terror. The world is full of things, good and bad. But my heart is not weary of the worst. For there is always an equal measure of goodness about to happen. Kenyans have built their economy with minimum natural resources. The dawn of oil in Turkana will not mean reversed era. We will not stop to hold up our national responsibility because of peace of our sisters and brothers in Somali.

The WestgatE terror incident united us – WeAreOne. Subsequent terrors at Thika road, Gikomba market, Likoni Church and many more  places will leave us standing strong. Unfortunately, some of us have opted war than peace to reign for Africa’s emerging economy.

Where is this driving us to? An article by CityLab recently found that insecurity on streets of Cairo contributed to more traffic congestion. Nairobi and other cities will they be forced to adopt home workers or cycling to work – at least safer.

It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls.” – Epicurus quotes (Greek philosopher, BC 341-270)

Climate Departure Hits Nairobi

Is Nairobi developing fast to its destruction? The Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI) study  revealed Nairobi will be one of the fastest growing cities in the world by 2016. The EUI study ranked Nairobi, 50th position in the battle of the world’s largest cities based on quality of human capital. Johannesburg was 53rd in this category while Tokyo and Beijing trailed in the 56th position. Recently, the green city in the sun was ranked by MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as 4th most popular city in Africa. And now Nairobi positions itself third to Cape Town, South Africa and Accra, Ghana as best city in Africa to live in.

Listening to climate scientists you will shed tears about Nairobi. The conversation on “climate departure” as a way of measuring  climate change will really change things in global cities. Climate departure will happen when average temperatures of a city become so impacted by climate change that the old climate is overtaken by new climate. Nairobi in Africa is among many cities that are projected to hit it very soon, by 2036.

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Courtesy of Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post

The scientific journal Nature graphics’ indicates that dark red dots cities are to hit climate departure by tomorrow. Nairobi, a city of nearly 4.5 million people will experience the climate departure point by 2036. Thereafter, the city’s coldest year will still be hotter than any year from before 2005. Put another way, every single year after 2036 will be hotter than Nairobi’s hottest year on record from 1860 to 2005. It comes second to Lagos in Africa which has got only 16 years before it hits climate departure.

The half-full glass story is where cities mitigate climate change effect and prolong the global “climate departure” from 2047 to 2069. Twelve more years to experience old climate. Nairobi will then hit “climate departure” by 2058. Although it will still place Nairobi third behind Lagos and Pretoria.

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Courtesy of Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp/The Washington Post

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