By Paul Chung
Image credit: @www.isphoto.lv.
A new study shows that Hong Kong may actually be much more ‘polluted’ than Beijing, just in a completely different light.
A recent study by the University of Hong Kong indicates that Hong Kong suffers from the worst light pollution in the entire world. Beijing, on the other hand, is only China’s ninth most polluted city in terms of air quality. (Of course, there are massive health and environmental disparities between both types of pollutions.)
The study specifically spotlights Tsim Sha Tsui, a highly urbanized tourist and shopping district on the tip of Kowloon Peninsula, as having the worst light pollution in Hong Kong. Researchers discovered that it’s about 1,200 times brighter in Tsim Sha Tsui than that of an average dark sky.
Millions of brightness light samples indicate that even several less-urbanized districts of Hong Kong, such as the area near a stargazing facility, witnessed extreme light pollution that exceeded international norms.
According to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, unlike other bright-lights cities like Shanghai, Sydney or London, does not have laws regulating external lighting. In Hong Kong, the issue is especially compounded by upward-pointing spotlights and energy-guzzling signboards on streets. It remains to be seen if the government will follow other cities and pass legislation aimed at curbing the pollution in favor of the status quo (voluntary light restriction suggestions).
Though certainly not as hazardous as PM2.5 pollution, light pollution has its own negative health and environmental implications, including worker fatigue, ecosystem disturbance, and major energy consumption.
On the other hand, light pollution remains to be an issue in Beijing where visibility is so low on the smoggiest days that perhaps more light is actually a viable solution.