You might be familiar with the ‘noise pollution’ produced from the pedestrian zone located in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, which has been so serious recently that even a store decided to build a noise barrier. However, there is actually another kind of pollution which is bothering not only to the shoppers, but also to the residents. Mong Kok is not only notorious for its crowded space, loud noise and dirty air – light pollution has also been an issue for a long time already.
Here is a comparison of the day view and night view of Sai Yeung Choi Street South:
Do not be shocked, Hong Kong has been known as the worst city for light pollution, and Mong Kok is one of the most serious area. Due to blossoming tourism, more and more international brands have squeezed into Shan Tung Street, Sai Yeung Choi Street and Soy Street with large electric screens showing their promotional videos and eye piercing neon signs. Local restaurants and shops will never miss the opportunities to catch up this trend. The more eye catching the signs are, the more customers they think they can attract.
The lights at night bring the name ‘The pearl of east’ to Hong Kong, and neon lights has become a trendy item these days. Nonetheless, some people are actually suffering behind those artificial lights. A project done by Friends of Earth and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2010 found out that residents were exposed to the level of lighting of 815 lux, which was half of the recommended level for illuminating a professional sports stadium. Intense brightness in old residential areas could result in insomnia of the residents as receiving too much lights could actually disturb human biological clock. The same study pointed out that poor sleeping quality could lead to various problems like depression, bi-polar disease, narcolepsy etc, which would impair people’s energy and ability to focus on the next day.
For noise, you can still make a noise barrier to fend it off. For lights, the residents can only choose to use curtains as their ‘light barrier’. The current situation in Hong Kong is pessimistic compared to other cities like London and Sydney, as there are no laws to regulate the usage of lights. At night, the noise can be stopped. But for those neon signs this is just the start of their “show time”. Although the Environment Bureau tried to alleviate the problems by providing a guideline on external lighting installations in 2015, not much improvement have been done under the voluntary basis.
Despite their transient beauty, excessive light pollutions are actually bringing long-term negative effects to us both ecologically and environmentally. If you are a big fan of light arts or the star-gazing night view of Hong Kong, maybe you should put down your camera and think about the impacts of light pollution!
Editor : Chloe
Copy-editor : Jackson
Online team : Sumi