2007 will go down in history as a remarkable year. Through extended observations and research, mankind discovered for the first time that it had made an unequivocal impact on the climate of the Earth(1). It understood that man-made climate change could have adverse consequences for the global ecological environment and on various aspects bearing on human survival such as food, water, health, etc(2). Mankind must deal with these problems, not only by taking adaptive measures to cope with the changing climate, but also by taking prompt actions to remove the fundamental cause of the problem. Mankind cannot allow the climate to spin out of control, jeopardizing the survival of the human race and all creatures on Earth.
As a meteorologist myself, I was a long-time skeptic of the so-called "climate change" since I knew that climate had always been fluctuating since ancient times. A few years of cold or hot once in a while should not be overplayed. However, since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its 3rd scientific assessment report in 2001, the huge volume of data and evidence made it clear that the climate had indeed changed as a result of human activities. Furthermore, in view of the serious consequences of climate change, it is no longer a choice for a responsible meteorologist to deny the existence of climate change and to refuse to take any responsive action.
Against this background, the Hong Kong Observatory commenced a series of studies on climate change in Hong Kong, and released the results of these studies to the public in stages. By now, that "winter may disappear from Hong Kong by the end of the 21st century" has become a well-known piece of news. I would like to draw your attention to the word "may". The climate one hundred years from now is not purely determined by meteorological science. Relatively speaking, the mathematics and physics of climate is not complex. The difficult part is to predict how people would lead their lives in the coming decades. It depends on whether or not people would continue to burn coal and petroleum for energy, thus releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide which would in turn speed up global warming. If all of us quickly change our life-style and stop carbon dioxide increasing, the forecast of no winters by the end of the century will not come true.
This educational package represents an effort by the Hong Kong Observatory to promote public awareness of climate change. It is intended to help people appreciate what climate change is and understand its serious impacts. Hopefully people would be motivated to act as responsible individuals, helping to reduce carbon dioxide emission by all available means, so as to give the Earth a chance to recover. In this endeavour, we would be happy to work alongside the education sector and non-government organizations to defend our beautiful Earth which we call home, for the sake of the people of Hong Kong as well as all mankind.
Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
27 June 2007
Press release titled "the evidence for human-caused global warming is now "unequivocal", says IPCC", issued by the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme on 2 February 2007 in Paris.
The Summary for Policymakers "Climate Change 2007 : Impact, adaptation and vulnerability" released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 6 April 2007.