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26 November, 2015 - 10:33

Wind farms at sea and geoconservation

  • Separate, specialist conservation groups like geoconservation associations

    In my experience, the 'big eye' or 'big picture' viewpoint is of outstanding importance in conservation. The EIA process has suffered since it was born 40 years ago from problems associated with narrow, sectional and sometimes one-issue viewpoints presented either by developers or, worse, by their opponents, the extreme and narrow so-called conservation groups. In Hong Kong, as is the case in many places overseas, we have specialist conservation groups that like to focus on, say, birds, frogs, pandas, butterflies, dragonflies or one species of tree, e.g. California redwoods in the USA. I was once at an environmental hearing before a judge in New Zealand and debating an issue on forest conservation with some 'green groups' who were trying to save just a few species of trees which, in their opinion, were of 'special cultural significance.' When I remind them that forest fungi were also important too (e.g. bracket fungi on tree trunks in the New Zealand native forest), they were very annoyed and tried to shout me down. Amazingly narrow, sectional agendas were being advocated by this 'green group.' Fortunately, the judge on this occasion was fascinated by fungi and invited me to give scientific reasons for arguing in favour of fungi. The proceedings resulted in a more balanced, ecologically sound decision.

    Your course S122 A Foundation Course in Biology and Earth Science was developed in a way that demonstrated the connections between biological, climatological and geological aspects of our total natural environment.

    So, in my view, we should take a 'big eye' view of conservation and aim to focus on nature in her totality. To isolate single issues or emphasize, say, geology or landscape at the expense of ecology or biodiversity, is not a good modus operandi, i.e. way of doing things.

    I would prefer if the Association for Geoconservation was integrated into a holistic Nature Conservation Movement or a society with a catchy logo like SOUL, or:media/image4.png
  • Should the wind-farm at sea idea be 'blown away'?

    The Association for Geoconservation appears to dislike the wind farm at sea plan. Their reasons for rejecting the plan seems to focus on what they perceive as a natural seascape: one with islands, coastlines, distant hills and an uncluttered sea. I like this view too. But should our like for such a vista be more important than taking a big, bold step towards creating a renewable energy wind farm? The technology is available and the more big power companies like China Light and Power (CLP) get involved in renewable energy generation the less coal we will need to burn to make electricity. This is good, but something much greater and of longer term value may arise from a development like a marine wind farm. This something is enhanced and better technology for wind power. Technology thus improved may one day mean that we can have our own mini-wind farm near our apartments in Hong Kong. What a fantastically exciting, futuristic and environmentally welcome idea.

    In terms of spoiling the scenic seascape views, this is a very debatable idea too. Many Hong Kongers may, in fact, like to see a wind farm at sea. The sight might inspire the school children and university students of Hong Kong to invent new technologies of alternative power and lead us towards a genuine eco-future.

    Clearly, we can't always have what one pressure group want, especially in a small place with a big population of which the Hong Kong SAR is a very good example.

    Why can't we have a wind farm at sea? This is one environmentally friendly idea that should not be blown away!