Going green is crucial and not something hip

Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 09;

I REFER to Miss Lau Ying Shan's letter on Thursday, 'Are we doing enough?' I could not agree more with her points.

Unfortunately, an almost perfect environment like Singapore does not give residents an idea of the climate change problems that will hit the world in years to come.

We do not face water shortage, but have infinite drinkable water from the tap. We do not have power failures. We have a lot of parks and trees, and fresh air.

How can we make the selfish me-generation understand that going green is essential and not something hip that is done once in a while?

We will see the effects of climate change down the road in a few years. If not us, the next generation will.

I hardly see anyone in my neighbourhood sorting rubbish (plastic, paper, glass, metal) - everything goes down the chute.

Many motorists start their car 10 minutes before their passengers come down, to cool it sufficiently. Most drivers behave as if they are in a Formula One race, and their vehicles guzzle fuel.

While some companies are taking real measures to go green, others just do it as a marketing ploy. Painting the wall green is not enough.

Sven Hafner

Kick habits of waste
Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 09;

THE Government has made a strong commitment towards sustainable development and has initiated projects like Newater to recycle waste water and plans to build the world's largest solar energy plant in Tuas by next year.

These are all large-scale and ambitious plans that show the Government is serious about a sustainable future where generations to come will not have to suffer the consequences of our insatiable demand for growth at all cost. But are we, the people, doing enough?

The Government's action alone is not enough to ensure a sustainable future if we just sit back and do nothing. Reading the newspaper each morning about the latest development at the Copenhagen climate summit while sipping coffee from a disposable cup and dumping both the newspaper and coffee cup in the trash before proceeding with the daily routine will not help solve the problem of climate change but rather, make it worse.

Unlike most political issues which we just sit back and watch unfold, climate change involves each and every one of us as it is caused by the summation of everyone's action in the first place.

How many times did you choose to take your car instead of public transport just to save a few minutes' travelling time?

How many times did you go grocery shopping without a shopping bag and return with plastic bags you throw away?

These are the little things we overlook for the sake of convenience, but it is these little things that add up to a huge amount of waste each year.

We need to kick our old habits of excessive consumption and waste, not out of fear of a hefty fine but because we know it is harmful to the environment and ultimately to us in the future. It only takes a little change to make a difference.

Decline the plastic bag when you know you can do without it; don't take it just because it's free. Make a little effort to remember to take your grocery bag each time you go shopping. Make an effort to sort recyclables from your trash.

All these efforts are not insignificant if they become the habit of society.

Nicklaus Tse

For our children
Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 09;

'Technological advances and prowess should come with the social responsibility to preserve and protect the planet.'

MR ETHAN LEE: 'There is a Native American proverb, 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children'. The course of human history is a mere dot compared to the history of the planet. Yet we have managed to bring Planet Earth near destruction. Technological advances and prowess should come with the social responsibility to preserve and protect the planet, so we can pass on to our children and their children a planet that is liveable and sustainable for generations to come. I sincerely hope something tangible can be achieved at Copenhagen beyond the talk.'

Climate Change: Are we doing enough?
Straits Times Forum 10 Dec 09;

THE world is still hopeful that the Copenhagen summit will arrive at concrete measures to address climate change, even though expectations of a silver bullet have fizzled out somewhat. It is perhaps timely for Singapore - and Singaporeans - to reflect on this crucial issue.

Although the nation's emission figures are not significant due to our relatively small population size, our per capita greenhouse gas emissions are comparable to those of most industrialised countries.

Instead of recognising this fact, we continually justify ourselves by pointing to another measure - carbon intensity, which is greenhouse gas emissions per dollar GDP - which shows that Singapore's impact is decreasing. Yet carbon intensity remains a different measure from carbon emissions per capita: the latter values the environmental impact of a single individual, while the former values the economy in relation to the environment.

As a Singaporean, I am not sure if I can continue to hold my head high when I know my individual carbon footprint is mistakenly condoned by the international community just because my country says its national contribution to climate change is insignificant.

Moreover, is Singapore not an influential political actor, or is it simply not trying hard enough? In November 2007, during the third East Asia Summit, members of Asean, Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, China and New Zealand signed a Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment. Yet, this declaration, though well-intended, remains toothless.

At best, it serves as a reminder to individual countries to do their part to mitigate climate change; at worst, it is another document waved around as a prop to show something is being done, when in fact nothing substantial is being done on the ground. How Singapore follows up with the declaration is really up to its own discretion, but it is undeniable that it is a leader and role model on the Asean front.

While Singapore's economy is important - and I am a beneficiary of that - the economy is not all that matters. In terms of long-term sustainability, it is apt to remind ourselves that we are an island state, surrounded by seas whose levels are predicted to rise with increasing global temperatures.

In addition, we have the Marina Barrage, a massive infrastructural investment crucial to our water sustainability yet vulnerable to rising sea levels and stronger storm surges.

Lau Ying Shan (Miss)