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Wednesday, 16th July 2008

Minor Planet 64288

I was rather surprised when a friend told me that there was a "star" bearing my name Lamchiuying. Last weekend, I checked the website of the International Astronomical Union and indeed found a record there. Lamchiuying is Minor Planet No. 64288, discovered by Mr W.K.Y. Yeung, a well-known amateur astronomer of Hong Kong, on 18 October 2001. I would like to thank him for kindly assigning my name to this astronomical object.

In the IAU citation regarding the formal naming, it mentions my positions as Director of the Hong Kong Observatory and ex-chairman of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, as well as my effort in promoting public awareness of global warming. The last item is what occupies my mind most of the time nowadays.

Up to 2001, I still didn't believe that human beings could change climate. To me, climate had always been changing and there was no particular need to worry about occasional fluctuations. However, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change published an assessment report in 2001 based on the amalgamation of the research results of scientists all over the world. Data confirmed the significant climate change in the last 200 years. A strong case was presented establishing the causal relationship between carbon dioxide emitted by human beings burning coal and petroleum and the observed global warming. I am a scientist. Seeing the solid evidence, I appreciate that human beings are responsible for climate change and further realize that un-controlled climate change would have serious consequences.

From then onwards, I try my best to tell people what I know about. I hope that people would know better what climate change is. I tell people what we must do to reduce the rate of climate change, so as to avoid getting human beings and numerous other living species onto the road to extinction.

Hoping for a viable climate in the future, I gave talks everywhere. I asked colleagues of the Observatory to study how Hong Kong climate would change and then publicize the results for people's information. However, as I worked to promote public awareness of climate change, from time to time, I was labelled an "alarmist". At those moments, I do wonder whether I should continue my effort.

The arrival of Minor Planet 64288 is a timely reminder to me that other people on Earth do share my concern. Thus I am not going to give up my campaign. I shall persevere in my effort to prevent climate from becoming hazardous to living things on Earth.

Minor Planet 64288, with or without my name, remains its own self moving on its original orbit. However, for me, I could now imagine myself at its position watching silently in darkness the evolving universe and in particular the tiny blue Earth in the distance. It offers a totally perspective. The emergence and extinction of the human race would be but a faint, miniscule flash.

LAM Chiu Ying

Last revision date: <17 Jan 2013>