Hong Kong addresses light pollution

Skyline has environmental impact

The Kai Tak cruise terminal in Hong Kong. A new study has found that the dazzling lights of the city are causing light pollution. Photograph: Reuters

The Kai Tak cruise terminal in Hong Kong. A new study has found that the dazzling lights of the city are causing light pollution. Photograph: Reuters

Fri, Mar 22, 2013, 06:04


Hong Kong tourism authorities are trying to balance the city’s glitzy image with a growing desire to make the city less wasteful as it lights up.

Hong Kong is one of the great skylines of the world. However a new study has found the dazzling lights of the Asian metropolis are causing light pollution – in some cases, a staggering 1,200 times the internationally accepted standard.

The light pollution has been so intense, visitors need to wear shades. It can even affect their body clocks. Questions have been raised about how many flashing lights can and should be tolerated.

Activists’ views
After weeks in which the Huangpu River was crowded with nearly 15,000 pig cadavers, activists are unified in their views.

“The light leaving this Pearl of the Orient is excessive,” wrote the not-for-profit Friends of the Environment..

“There are only two kinds of places in Hong Kong: very bright and a little bright,” he said. In the past 10 years the problem has intensified as skyscrapers have erected more dazzling, flashing LED panels.

Scientists collected data at 18 monitoring stations for three years, and found the some of the worst readings in the city’s tourist hotspot Tsim Sha Tsui.

Opinion divided
Hong Kong residents are divided between the need to bring tourists to the city and the desire to keep things less glitzy.

In a government-commissioned survey commissioned in 2011, more than 70 per cent of 2,700 respondents felt there was light pollution in Hong Kong. However, 78 per cent of residents also said lights helped promote tourism and beautify the environment.

Some streets feel like it’s the middle of day even late at night, but 87 per cent of respondents said this kind of lighting kept the crime rate low.

Activists want more regulated lighting in the city so as not to disturb wildlife in various cases, but the decision was left open.