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NOVEMBER 17, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 45 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK


Ricky Wong for Asiaweek.
Wired Executive
Mei Ng, Director, Friends of the Earth

"The manufacturing, packaging, storing and moving of one megabyte of data eats up half-a-pound of coal," exclaims Mei Ng. "And it's estimated that 17,000 U.S. Internet companies each use the electrical load of a small village." As the head of Friends of the Earth, Hong Kong's leading environmental group, Ng is known for rattling off statistics that can stop you in your tracks. But lest you mistake her for a tree-dwelling luddite, you should know that she is reading those facts from her Palm Pilot. "It's the most useful thing, especially when I'm giving a presentation and answering questions. Immediately I can draw on real data and respond with authority."

Despite her concerns about the excesses of the information age, Ng sees the Internet more as a friend of the earth than a foe. Government documents she used to have to request by mail and then post to overseas experts for input, can now be accessed quickly on the Net from anywhere in the world. Research no longer requires time-consuming trips to the library or costly book purchases. "With better access to information about clean technologies and what sorts of things are working in other countries, I can be very positive and solution-oriented," she says. And the Friends of the Earth website (www. foe.org.hk) helps get the word out, especially to remote areas of China.

Ng's spare time though is strictly unplugged. When it comes to the environment there is still no virtual substitute for the real thing.

E-mails Per Day: 30 (not including internal messages)
Favorite Software: Microsoft Powerpoint, "because I do a lot of public speaking"
Personal Digital Assistant: Palm Pilot. "It's great for storing information"
Bookmarks::
www.ethicalconsumer.org
www.igc.org/svtc/crt, by the International Campaign for Responsible Technology
www.geneticsforum.org.uk
www.globalreporting.org
Last Electronic Purchase: A U.N. report
Preferred Analog Activity: Gardening. "That's one way I still keep in touch with nature"
Dream Internet Site: One that connects children worldwide so they can see how others live and think. "It can bring peace by reducing misunderstanding."

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