Singaporeans must take climate change seriously

Straits Times 9 Sep 13;

LAST Thursday's flood in the western part of Singapore which resulted in the closure of the Ayer Rajah Expressway serves as a timely reminder to all to take climate change seriously ("Flash floods shut down part of AYE for 40 mins"; last Friday).

While Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan affirmed that his ministry would be doing more to alleviate flooding, Singaporeans have to be mindful that this issue could be beyond the Government's ambit.

In recent years, Singapore has been hit by many flash floods, which were unprecedented in terms of scale and damage caused.

Being an island-state, it is a harbinger of a crisis if Singaporeans remain indifferent towards climate change as it threatens our very existence as a country. This is especially so, given that our drainage system is generally well-maintained by national water agency PUB.

The general sense of complacency among Singaporeans towards the environment has to change. Singaporeans have to do their part to mitigate climate change by:

- Recycling. Unfortunately, this is simply too onerous a task for most households. The National Environment Agency should make recycling bins more accessible to encourage recycling.

- Taking along one's own shopping bags. Retailers here dish out plastic bags freely without thought for its impact on the environment. Shoppers who take along their own bags are a rare breed. Perhaps we should emulate Taiwan and charge for plastic bags, to change consumers' behaviour.

- Eating less meat. It is undeniable that meat consumption, and hence, meat production, contributes to most of the greenhouse gas production. While it may not be possible for all to adopt a vegetarian diet, government institutions such as army camps can take the lead by adopting a meat-free day in their cook-houses. A vegetarian diet is a healthier option as well.

- Using less electricity. This can be as simple as switching off the lights when they are not in use.

Singapore has come to a critical juncture where we cannot afford to be apathetic towards climate change. It is clear that we have to adopt a green lifestyle for our survival.

Elgar Lee