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#Climate Urgency, #Consumption & Lifestyle

SCMP: Veteran Hong Kong weatherman Lam Chiu-ying has long been a familiar face raising awareness in the city about climate change and telling people to stop using air conditioners.
Now, at 74, he has gained new attention as a rapper, using Cantonese hip-hop music to press home a message on environmental protection and overconsumption.

The former director of the Observatory teamed up with singer-songwriter Luna Lee Chui-ting, 29, known to fans as “Luna Is A Bep”, to create a snappy number titled “Buy Less Buy Better”.

For their music video, which premiered on YouTube on June 5, Lam shed his standard white shirt and grey trousers to don sunglasses and a retro-style shirt and jacket.

And for his debut as a rap artist, he called himself “Chiu-ying Gor”, meaning “Brother” Chiu-ying.

The song has a serious message about fast fashion and wasteful overspending on cheap, trendy and mass-produced clothes.

Lam and Lee chose the theme to highlight that fashion is the world’s third-most polluting industry, with carbon emissions accounting for 8 per cent of the global total.

“It is a significant contribution to the deteriorating climate, and it is fast growing,” Lam said.

With the repeated catchphrase “buy less, buy better”, the 2½-minute video had garnered 31,466 views and 1,900 likes as of Saturday night.

Musician Lee hoped the song would remind people to shop wisely and support local businesses instead of blindly following fashion trends.

Her lyrics go: “I choose class over craze. Smart spending saves the day. Cheap clothes rarely look good, you don’t even have to say it, I’d know.”

She hoped people would opt for locally made, better quality clothes that last longer.

“There is a lower carbon footprint and it’s good for the environment,” she said.

One viewer said in the comments section: “Thank you for your contribution to the world. However small this step may seem, changes are possible as long as you believe.”

Lam said he was “over the moon” when he was invited to collaborate with Lee, whose songs focus on social issues including the Covid-19 pandemic, capitalism and smartphone addiction.
He admitted that it was not easy getting the hang of rapping, and thanked Lee for her “love, tolerance and forgiveness”.

But Lee praised her partner, saying: “Chiu-ying Gor is also a very clever man and [revealed] so much wisdom in our conversations and interaction.”

Lam led the Observatory from 2003 to 2009, and was chairman of the government-appointed Environmental Campaign Committee between 2013 and 2018.

During his 35-year career, he helped establish the “very hot weather” and “cold weather” warnings, and set up the Friends of the Observatory platform for the sake of public education and to promote science.

In 2008, an asteroid was named after him in recognition of his efforts to raise public awareness of climate change.

Well-known for his abhorrence of air conditioners, he has been dubbed by conservationists as the face of the city’s environmental protection movement.

Hong Kong spends about HK$10 billion (US$1.28 billion) on air conditioning annually, which amounts to 30 per cent of the overall electricity consumption, according to official data.

The city experienced its hottest summer on record last year, when the temperature hit an average of 29.7 degrees Celsius (85.5 Fahrenheit) between June and August.

Hong Kong recorded temperatures of 34 degrees on June 21 this year, making it the hottest summer solstice since 1980.

Lam said that over the past couple of years, people kept needling him, asking whether he had given up the fight and “secretly switched on the air conditioner”.

“Some said: ‘Since you do not switch on the air conditioner, I will switch it on and turn the temperature a few degrees down,’” he told the Post, adding that he knew they were just having a bit of fun.

“People understand why I don’t switch on the air conditioner.”

That was why Lee added a verse to the song that caught the internet’s attention: “Stop asking whether I have switched on my air conditioner. I will tell you when I have switched it on.”

As an internet influencer, Lam has shared his views on environmental policies, including the government’s waste-charging scheme which was shelved last month.

“If you are not paying now, you will pay for it later by suffering from the heat,” he warned.

Blaming the government’s publicity strategy for the failure to press ahead with the scheme, he said: “Changing people’s habits is very difficult. But if we reason it out and convey the message in a way people understand, we can do it.”

Lam said working with Lee on the rap song and video gave him new hope for Hong Kong’s younger generation.

“People of my generation tend to see young people like this – they don’t work, they just play around,” he said.

“But that is a totally wrong perspective. They really want to change the world in one way or another.”

Lam, who has two sons, said he now considered Lee a daughter.

“I look at her, talk to her, and I feel much more hopeful about tomorrow,” he said.

 

Originally published on SCMP on 29 June 2024.

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