If you have been breathing and near a TV or radio over the past few days then one will inevitably know about the horrific disaster that has befallen Japan in the last week. I have a particular fondness for Japan - Eve's first Christmas was spent in Tokyo, where her first steps were taken too. The Japanese are such kind people and I urge anyone to help in any way that they can.
However, this post is not about the Japanese. It is about the complete overreaction of people here in Hong Kong. Even the biggest doom-mongers regarding the nuclear reactors are not suggesting it will contaminate the whole region. Japan possibly and, if the wind changes, some of the coast or Korea and China. This is tough to contemplate, but it does not mean that Hong Kong needs to undergo some sort of mass panic.
The Hong Kong observatory website has, clearly knowing the tendency for people here to panic a bit, put up a nice clear diagram about exactly where our air comes from i.e. not Japan. It has also put the pages dealing with radiation levels, which I suspect never before registered a single hit, linked to the homepage. This is not so much Douglas Adams telling us "Don't panic" but rather "there is absolutely nothing to even register a panic about".
This has not stopped the gossip or doom-mongering. One colleague I sit near has taken to loudly telling anyone who calls from Europe that we are all watching Bloomberg closely to see what will happen with the reactors and whether HK will be effected. I admit that we are all looking closely at Bloomberg, but that is because the stock markets have been in freefall for the last 3 days AND WE WORK AT A BANK. The day I rely on Bloomberg for advice on nuclear physics I may as well pack up and turn off the lights as I leave!
Another colleague has booked herself an open ended ticket to Australia. Another is talking about whether she can work from the Singapore office.
None of this is in anyway logical. My point to anyone who cares to listen is that the point at which we in HK need to worry (meaning that most of Taiwan, Korea and China would have been hit too) there will be far bigger global ramifications for us all than whether we can get on a flight to Singapore. Concern and worry should, in my opinion, be squarely where it is deserved - right now that is with the people, including my colleagues and friends, who are in Japan.