Climate change is a divisive topic. Its proponents say that the Earth’s rising surface temperatures, also known as global warming, is due primarily to human activity, namely, the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other – now commonly known as “greenhouse gases” – into the air. Climate change activists and those lobbying for our reduced “carbon footprints” range from the United Nations to the WWF (the panda organisation, not wrestling) to the David Suzuki Foundation to secondary school children in Southeast Asia.
Yet, there is a camp that scoffs at this stand. The International Climate Science Coalition, for example, states quite categorically that “science is rapidly evolving away from the view that humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ are a cause of dangerous climate change.” Mad men with an economic agenda? It all depends on where you’re standing.
Mackerel stands on the point where “climate change” represents a larger value that is important to us: Respect for our planet. And it starts with us at home.
Climate change and Singapore
These are some key statistics as provided by Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) in a document entitled, “Climate Change and Singapore” (20 January 2015):
“According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2014 was likely to be the warmest year on record. It was marked by extreme weather events in different parts of the world, e.g. severe droughts in large areas of the western U.S. and northern China, and severe floods in northern Pakistan and India. In recent years, Singapore has experienced bouts of high temperatures as well as very intense thunderstorms, some of which have led to flash floods. Our mean temperature rose from 26.8°C in 1948 to 27.7°C in 2013, and we saw the hottest day in January (35.2°C) followed by the wettest February (395.2mm) in the last 25 years in 2013. In early 2014, Singapore also experienced the longest dry spell since rainfall records started in 1869. The first National Climate Change Study (2007 – 2013) found that mean sea level around Singapore could rise by up to 0.65m in 2100. Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall could affect the severity of haze events. An increase in temperature could affect our biodiversity and greenery, increase the energy demand for cooling, and pose implications for public health. For example, the occurrence of vector-borne diseases such as dengue could increase in a warmer environment.”
Yes, it is extremely hot in Singapore. And it rains when it shouldn’t, and doesn’t when it should.
We choose to concern ourselves with climate change because we only need to look into our own backyard to see that many Singaporeans don’t give a flying shit.
The island is just one giant air-conditioned bubble. It’d be far easier to identify spots that are NOT air-conditioned. Singapore is a rare tropical island paradise where having the wind in your hair isn’t a thing, and where one has to pack a cardigan (some people prefer full-on fleece jackets) when headed INDOORS because it’s quite likely to be a chilly 20°C. Brrrrr.
I pack a pair of socks and a shawl whenever I watch a movie at the cinema. Pick a cinema, any cinema. They’re all bloody freezing with their air-cons on overdrive.
And we do this by burning fossil fuels – coal, fuel oil and natural gas.
According to the 2014 Living Planet Report by WWF, Singapore has the seventh largest ecological footprint in the world, which is a measure of the population’s demands on natural resources. The report notes, “If every person in the world lived like Singaporeans, 4.1 planets would be needed to sustain their needs.”
Crash any given business conference or walk into any food joint such as People’s Park Complex, Newton Hawker Centre or your friendly neighborhood economy rice stall at the coffeeshop and you’ll see people wielding disposable cutlery and eating off Styrofoam plates. “It’s more hygienic, what!” they cry.
“It’s cheaper and saves us the hassle of replacing stolen platters and cutlery,” claims the lady who sells vegetarian food at Tiong Bahru Food Centre. I hand her my lunch box to fill and cannot help but wonder, “Who would want to steal a used plastic plate?!”
Styrofoam and many other processed materials cannot be disposed of without some environmental fallout. Trash in Singapore is typically incinerated or buried in an already packed landfill on Pulau Semakau.