Urban metabolism measures quantitatively a city's load on the natural environment. We update the Newcombe et al. (3) pioneering study of Hong Kong's urban metabolism in 1971, highlighting trends in resource consumption and waste generation. Per capita food, water and materials consumption have surged since the early 1970s by 20%, 40%, and 149%, respectively. Tremendous pollution has accompanied this growing affluence and materialism, and total air emissions, CO2 outputs, municipal solid wastes, and sewage discharges have risen by 30%, 250%, 245%, and 153%. As a result, systemic overload of land, atmospheric and water systems has occurred. While some strategies to tackle deteriorating environmental quality have succeeded, greater and more far-reaching changes in consumer behavior and government policy are needed if Hong Kong is to achieve its stated goal of becoming “a truly sustainable city” in the 21st century.
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