I live in a cage. I am not in the circus and I am not an animal, but I am forced to eat, sleep, change, and live in a six foot cage with my mother. Some of the richer people that are across town are lucky enough to have a 164 ft. apartment. Every day I wake up right next to my mom and I feel like my lungs are about to collapse from being cramped all night. However, I am not the only one who lives like this. There are many buildings that have cages instead of rooms because we live in Hong Kong, China.
My name is Lee, I am ten years old, and I live alone with my mom in a six foot “apartment” as some call it. We are very unfortunate and have a limited amount of money. My mom does not work in one of the big, shiny skyscrapers I see out of my window, but she doesn’t work at all. My mom always says she is in between jobs, but I know she just can’t find one. Every day she goes to look for work and travels on the outdoor escalator, which is the largest outdoor escalator in the world. To get to school, have to take the MTR subway system. When I go on this subway, it usually scares me because looking down at the tracks I can see the little sparks of electricity. An old man once told me that I would die by electrocution if I fell on one of them. I know how powerful that electricity is because there are several plants that my mom told me are electricity plants. They are right outside of my building and they run twenty-four seven. To get to the subway I have to pass that electricity plant and the sparks shoot out of one of them nearly every day. On the gates to get into the plant there are signs that say CLP Power Hong Kong Limited, and the Hong Kong Electric Company Limited. I have seen those titles many places before and I have concluded that it is because Hong Kong mainly uses a lot of electricity.
In Hong Kong, there are no natural lakes or rivers, so all of our water has to be shipped from the mainland China or other places. I sometimes get very dehydrated because the water costs a lot of money because of all of the trouble people take to get it here. My mom can only by a limited amount of water each week based on our economic status and there are only so many shipments of water arrive into town. In school, I once read about a dam that gave electricity by the pressure of water. I thought this was very interesting but I know we are never going to have anything like that because there is no way we can use our only source of water, which we don’t even drink. There could be no way we could compact the ocean and use it as energy. Someday I hope to go to a country or city that has a hydropower plant.
Every day my mother has to go to the market to get dinner because unlike some places we never have frozen food. I have had frozen food one time in my entire life. Many of my classmates have never had frozen food, so I feel advanced for the first time in my life over something as silly as frozen food. I have gotten so tired of the food lately because it is always the same. We can’t afford the tastier food so my mom goes to this one market place, in which the owners can’t afford enough electricity to keep the food cold, so it does not always taste edible.
In school, I learn that there are about 16,500 people every mile in my city. My teacher also tells me that we have one of the world’s most populated metropolitan areas in the world. I thought this was good at first until I realized how much energy each individual needs. Our city is 426 miles. Therefore our population is about 7,029,000. If you can just imagine that seven million people are on an area that is one third the size of the American state, Rhode Island; incidentally, the state of Rhode Island has a population of about 1,050,000 people, which is about one seventh that of Hong Kong. In my opinion, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
On the top of a lot of buildings, there are these flat window like boards that I was told were called solar panels. In Hong Kong, there isn’t any high ground, such as mountains, which means we have an abundant amount of sun. So, all of the tall skyscrapers are able to benefit from the abundance. This is very helpful because this is something we are going to be able to use for a long time in the future. Knowing that we will be able to use this energy source for years to come, it is reassuring to me because I know there will be some kind of energy for me when I get older. The only bad part about the solar panels is that they are very expensive and they have to be shipped which adds to the cost. The budget for Hong Kong is already tight and installing expensive solar panels is not a top priority. Furthermore, we tend to use a decent amount of solar panels in order for that pros and cons to balance out.
In Hong Kong, I always see a lot of gas logos on buildings. I have come to the conclusion that this is because of all of the gas people in Hong Kong use. When I think about it, we use gas to power almost everything. I was curious about this and I asked my teacher. She said “We use liquefied petroleum gas for almost all of our commercial and domestic needs.” This was a real eye opening experience for me because I never really thought of where the majority of the power for Hong Kong comes from. When my teacher said this to me, everything pieced together and made sense. It was like I found the missing piece of the puzzle. I now realize that gas is the most important energy source in Hong Kong.
Knowing that gas is the primary source of energy in Hong Kong, I wanted to learn more. Given that I live in a six foot cage, a home source was not an option. I also wanted to get away from my “home” because in my opinion, a six foot cage, where you are surrounded by strangers, isn’t a home. So I set out to the city and asked librarians, plant workers, strangers, and even business people. I learned that there are several different types of gas, liquefied petroleum gas, town gas, and natural gas. Liquefied petroleum gas is imported by sea, as are most things, town gas is manufactured in Tai Po and Ma Tau Kok, and natural gas is imported from mainland China. Liquefied petroleum gas and town gas are responsible for all of the energy from domestic and commercial uses. With all of this gas use, I think Hong Kong is putting all of its eggs in one basket.
I know that petroleum gas and natural gas are all nonrenewable sources, which means they will eventually run out. Also, if something happens to our supply, we will have next to no energy. We as city rely way too much on gas. It is not good for the Earth because all of that gas pollutes the planet. This scientific fact explains why we have the highest greenhouse gas emission in the world. We use way too much gas and it is killing our planet, which means it will kill us. When I realize all of the things I use are powered by gas in some form, it makes me worried in the future. My generation is going to have to find an alternative energy source quickly because we will have used all of the available gas on the planet. Every time I go on the bus I am using gas, every time I walk by a restaurant I know they are using gas, every time I walk by a building I know they are using a lot of gas no matter the type. I get a gut wrenching feeling every time I see a gas shipment being unloaded from a ship because I know when our basket drops, all of our eggs will be broken.
I now go back to our “apartment” every night, get very close to my mother and I try to come up with a solution to our energy consumption. All I can think about is how ironic it is for me to be thinking of a solution to stop using gas, when I am using gas right this minute. I pray every day that when the oil is being shipped, it will not fall and we will lose all of our gas. If this were to happen, we wouldn’t have energy for god only knows how long. If more people knew this then we could possibly start looking into alternative energy sources. That is the problem, people are uneducated in knowing where and how gas is used. If people don’t figure out that we aren’t going to have an energy source in the future, and that our ice caps are not going to still be there due to greenhouse gas emissions, we are going to live in a terrible place. Everyday everyone uses a lot of gas, it doesn’t matter the form just that they use it. All of that usage adds up and makes for a problem the size of all of our skyscrapers stacked on top of each other. I live in a six foot home not because of gas, but because of our incredibly dense population. If you think about it all of those millions of people use gas and it is crammed into one space. Imaging what damage even more people could do.
I know I use gas in my everyday agenda. I know millions of other people use gas as their daily primary source also. I know that China is the biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and I can infer that this is from all of our gas usage. This is a growing problem because nobody is going to know what to do the next time they can’t have something because there is no energy to make it for them. It is going to come as a shock unless people start switching over energy sources soon. I am worried my life will get even worse than it is now. We as a country need to change our energy ways otherwise my generation, and generations to come are going to be in jeopardy. We have our eggs in the wrong basket.