Saturday, 28 April 2007

So here's my reflection for today's "kill the mosquitoes" project haha.

If you take some time to think about the issue of dengue fever, it actually comes down to one thing: laziness. Well, I personally think that people are just LAZY to take the correct measures in preventing the Andes mosquitoes from breeding. Some might argue that some people are unaware of it, but there are advertisements on these measures all over the place, on TVs, sometimes even on radios. There are banners around, advertising the hotline? I mean, if you are REALLY unaware, just call! I think that if everybody can do their part, and make an effort to follow these measures, I do not think that dengue fever will be that deadly anymore.
It is strange really, since these measures are for the sake of our lives, not just me, you or anybody, but rather, it is everybody. So, the real deadly problem here is not the disease itself, but instead, it is the attitude of some irresponsible people who cannot see the need to protect their own lives.
Today's project was very inspiring, in the sense that at least I get to see people actually advising people on how to deal with the breeding of mosquitoes in action. Normally, I just see it on Tv or some newspapers, but seeing this 'live' and actually becoming a part of this project just inspires me to do more. More than just house visits, or campaigns.

However, today while going door-to-door to give out pamphlets, I also got to see the ugly sight of people, some people actually asked us to 'shoo' as if we were some salesmen, it is rather ridiculous that we are here, trying to save their lives, and they just sit in their homes, not giving attention to this major issue. They should at least realise that this issue is so major because of our irresponsibility.
Concluding my long reflection, I will like to again, stress that it is our own responsibility to protect our own lives, and not the responsibilities of some other caring people who actually CARES about our lives when we don't. Therefore, the importance of this issue need not be repeated.

Kenneth Lim (4J)

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Energy efficiency guidelines for homes and industries to come: Amy Khor

This article first appeared in TODAY on 18th April 2007
Christie Loh

Instead of leaving your electronic devices on standby mode, why not switch them off?

This may be one of the recommendations for households under a soon-to-come national energy efficiency plan, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, said at a conference yesterday.

The initiative to reduce energy usage is part of a wider effort to address environmental concerns amid economic growth and global warming. Temperatures have been rising to the earth's detriment due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide.

The guidelines may also include the optimal level of electricity that households should use in order to save the earth.

However, climate-change plans should target companies, as households account for just 10 per cent of total carbon dioxide emission here, said Associate Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).

The energy efficiency plan — currently being formulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA) — will cover both households and businesses. There is no set deadline for completion, Dr Khor told reporters after delivering a speech at the Shell-SIIA forum on corporate social responsibility and the environment.

When asked if the guidelines could become legislation, she said: "At the moment, they will be recommendations."

There will also be measures tailored to specific industries such as transportation and pharmaceuticals.

"There is no one-size-fits-all. Different sectors of the economy will have different challenges and circumstances," Dr Khor said.

Her comments come on a week busy with green announcements — tomorrow will see the start of a two-day conference of the United Nations' first Global Business Summit for the Environment.

Singapore is aiming by 2012 to cut the country's carbon intensity by 25 per cent from 1990 levels. In 2005, carbon intensity — defined as carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of gross domestic product — was down by 22 per cent.

Say No to Plastic Bag

By Lee U-Wen This article was first published in Today on 18.4.2007

YOU may not realise it, but each day, nearly every one of us brings a pest into the home. They are small, mostly pink, blue or white in colour, adaptable to land and water, and have caused the deaths of countless animals and fish around the world.

This lethal monster is none other than the plastic bag, a flimsy everyday item that we simply cannot do without, yet has been the scourge of many cities, even countries, which have rallied to impose taxes or ban them altogether.

The global war against plastic bags — something that most people use for only a short while but takes hundreds of years to break down — is picking up steam, most notably in San Francisco, which last month became the first American city to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags. Shoppers there now must use paper bags when they buy groceries, or carry their own bags from home. The move came after weeks of intense lobbying from environmentalists.

San Francisco joins a select group that has taken a major step forward in saving the earth, including Rwanda, Bangladesh, South Africa, Mumbai and Bhutan which have already imposed their own ban. Paris will join the list at the end of this year, with the rest of France following suit by 2010.

Why, then, is Singapore, a much smaller city and one that has serious aspirations of making its mark as a champion of green technology, not following suit in a big way?

A National Environment Agency (NEA) study revealed that Singaporeans use about 2.5 billion plastic bags each year — the equivalent of 19 million kilogrammes of waste.

Ever since a heated debate on plastic bags was sparked off in this newspaper some two years ago, the awareness of the problem has gone up somewhat. A national campaign to encourage the use of reusable bags has taken off well with more than 100,000 such bags sold at many major supermarkets.

More significantly, today marks Singapore's first Bring Your Own Bag Day, where more than 200 supermarkets will encourage customers to use reusable bags. That it is not just a one-off campaign, but one that will take place every first Wednesday of the month, is also laudable.

But we can do better. We need to speed up the push to bring down the use of plastic bags here.

The Government certainly believes enough in Singaporeans' changing attitudes towards environment issues, seeing how it is investing millions of dollars to study clean energy and launching eco-friendly flats in Punggol.

But time and again, whenever the plastic bag problem surfaces, we get the same message from the lawmakers, that it prefers not to impose legislation, but rather work with voluntary schemes and allow consumers and the market to take the lead.

Encouragingly, the door to legislation is not fully closed, as NEA chief executive Lee Yuen Hee said last week that he had not ruled out making it a law if the plastic bag situation does not improve here.

Then the question is, when is that breaking point for such a move to happen? What would it take for lawmakers here to introduce a law in Parliament? I believe that if we continue to take the ground-up route, we can never expect any significant progress to be made in a country where people have grown up expecting plastic bags to be given to us free.

Realistically, banning plastic bags completely is not completely feasible, given our heavy dependence on them, be it at the wet market or to contain garbage at home.

A plastic tax is perhaps the best way to make consumers think twice about whether they really need that bag when they buy their pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a loaf of bread. Such a tax is already taking off in many countries around the world. If you're out shopping in Taiwan or Ireland, be prepared to fork out anywhere from five to 20 cents for a plastic bag.

Last June, Ikea stores in the United Kingdom started charging its customers 10 pence (30 cents) per bag, a move which the furniture giant said could cut down plastic bag usage by a whopping 20 million by this year. Its two stores here recently became the first retail stores to start charging for plastic bags.

How Singapore can do one better is to promise that every single cent collected from its plastic bag tax goes towards green effort, be it for more recycling centres, running environmental programmes in schools, or to various non-profit groups such as the Environmental Challenge Organisation and the Singapore Environment Council.

You do the maths — a nominal tax of, say, five cents multiplied by 2.5 billion bags would add up to an astonishing $125 million to fund meaningful causes. But until then, let us try to cut down our usage in whatever small way we can.

With April 22 being Earth Day — a special day to celebrate the Earth and remind ourselves of its scarce resources — each of us can do our part by refusing that plastic bag when we go shopping, or even better, bring along a reusable bag.

That would be the best present you could ever give to Mother Nature. And it's much better than having to deal with yet another law breathing down our necks.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Editorial in Sunday Time 15.4.2007 on the use of Plastic Bag


You will have to pay between five to ten cents for the plastic bag on the left.

The store is playing it parts to save the environment by making customers use recycleable bags like the one shown on the right.

IT WAS a matter of time before the furniture store Ikea brought to its Singapore operations the idea of a tax on plastic carrier bags.

It will take effect this month, varying between five and 10 cents. The intent is praiseworthy, even if the green movement here struggles for attention.

There is doubt many Singaporeans will take kindly to paying, if indirectly, for a cause as nebulous as environmental protection.

Just keeping the living environment clean, known to one and all as the anti-litter campaign, has been a losing proposition. It's a stretch for the average person to relate plastic throwaways to the chemistry of the sub-oil and the pathology of oil politics, oil being an element in plastics manufacture.

The kopitiam test is the best: Would they pay to advertise for Ikea by lugging its logo around with their shopping? This is the connection people are inclined to make. It can be circumvented if Ikea and other retailers the National Environment Agency is roping in for the campaign to reduce plastics use offer substitutes.

But take heart. Environmentalists can still prevail, though by default. If more shops start charging and consumers resist paying for the convenience, their use will fall sharply. Businesses can stimulate the fortuitous trend by offering reusable cloth, jute and hardy paper bags. Even if chargeable, they can be used for a long while.

This ought to be the real focus of the campaign to change shopper habits. Ikea had launched its drive in the United States and Britain. Usage has fallen markedly. Let's be clear about plastic's culpability.

Even partly biodegradable bags now available release toxicity through burning. They are known to harm animal life through ingestion. They cause flooding by clogging drains. Children have suffocated slipping them over their heads at play. They have little incidental use, other than as wrapping for rubbish which perpetuates the environmental damage.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

About the green audit award

Dear YEG,
Mayflower has been working to make the school green. We have embark on the green Audit Award as a way to see how far we have come and how much more we have to do

Below is a write up about the award from the website How Green is my school.

We will be asking all YEG to play their part. There is only one Earth. OURS.

The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is giving out awards to schools that participate in its "How Green is Your School" programme.
This programme comes with a self-help manual, which will assist your school in gauging its level of green-consciousness.

The Programme is a simple environmental audit programme.
The students will calculate amongst other things the school's usage of:

- Water- Electricity
As well as the amount and type of rubbish that is generated by the:
- School canteen
- School office/staff room
- Classrooms
- School garden/others

From these findings, students will be able to suggest ways to save and cut down on unnecessary wastage and find ways to reduce and recycle the garbage that is generated.
The programme hopes to highlight that as an individual, and collectively as a group, we are able to make a difference to our environment.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Dump that apathy towards littering

Straits Time April 2, 2007

Fed-up with being known as litterbugs, youth say its time to clean up their act

THE National Environment Agency (NEA) recently published its findings of a six-month survey on littering behaviour in Singapore.

The report noted that older Singaporeans are more likely to refrain from littering because they believe it is harmful to the environment.

Those between 20 and 39 years old, however, do not see littering as socially unacceptable. Here is what some youth had to say about it:

Litter, a little problem?

WE LIVE in a country where more often than not, foreigners clean up after us. This statement applies to the home, where we employ maids to clean up, and outdoors, where foreign workers don yellow vests and sweep our trash away.

But I reject the notion that younger Singaporeans are not environmentally conscious. After all, we are inundated almost daily with news about the sad state of Mother Nature.

From the issue of excessive carbon emissions, to the haze and global warming, there is no shortage of reminders that our world is bleeding and we need to do something.

Youth are quick to rally for causes that promote awareness of such issues, and what we as a nation can do about it.

However, this fixation on such macro issues has caused us to overlook the fact that littering is a harmful activity on any scale.

Until the issue of littering is given the same status as other dangerous harmful issues such as global warming, littering will remain an aesthetic issue, something a foreign worker can sweep away.

Yusuf Abdol Hamid, 21, is doing national service and graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2005 with a diploma in mass communication.

Just plain rude

A CLEANER toils through picking up stray food wrappers - not enough to rend the heart? What about a pregnant pedestrian who slips on a plastic bag?

Numerous accessible avenues for waste disposal aside, the inconvenience, danger and all-round unpleasantness posed by the careless discarding of refuse make it intolerable.

Unfortunately, it seems litterbugs may feel compelled to kick the habit only if their thoughtless behaviour is shown to have as immediate an effect on them as it does on others who have to suffer them.

Perhaps advertising campaigns can provide that kind of perspective.
Either make them feel the pinch, or underscore the fact that littering damages the very environment they share with others who have managed to do their part in keeping it clean.

Soh Weijie, 20, is waiting to study English at university.

Start younger

I WAS surprised to read this article deftly dismissing young people as perceiving littering as acceptable. As a member of this demographic group and fervent nature lover, I am rather appalled at the results.

However, I do accept the sentiments that young people may be a big problem when it comes to littering. I have a few ideas why this is so.

First, upbringing plays a large part, and education on resource waste, public hygiene and the impact of solid waste on the environment must be taught in the young.

Certainly, a problem with Singapore youth also lies in the peculiar adolescent need to act out.
In schools, for instance, leaving trash lying around without a care may come across as 'cool' to sworn rebels.

Besides, our urban environment is never very unclean because of the army of cleaners under the NEA's employ.

Singaporeans are brought up knowing that if they leave an empty can on the pavement, a paid cleaner will come along sooner or later to clean up.

Liana Tang, 22, is a fourth-year undergraduate at the National University of Singapore studying biology.

Time for wake-up call

THIS generation takes it for granted that mobile vacuum cleaners will always clean up after them.

Growing apathy towards picking up one's own litter stems from upbringing, where the younger generation is pampered.

Impressionable children learn quickly. Anyone conveniently littering, hoping their rubbish will 'blow away', will spur them to follow suit.

While we can claim our littering to be inevitable because of the lack of dustbins, it is certainly not so hard to just hang on to our own waste.

If constant reminders from parents, teachers and friends are the only way to get the message across - that litter won't clean up itself - then perhaps it is the wake-up call we need. By not paying attention to who is clearing up our trash, the cycle of littering and cleaning will never end.
Eunice Quek, 20, is a second-year student at Nanyang Technological University studying English.

Get your hands dirty

EDUCATING youth about environmental ownership must go beyond the mundane classroom setting of geography and science subjects. It must be done in a fun, engaging and proactive way that encourages student participation.

Currently, the NEA organises the annual Clean and Green Week Schools Carnival, which includes exhibitions, seminars and design competitions using recycled materials.

More of these can be conducted for students, incorporating the theme of anti-littering.
Students stand to learn more from the hands-on experience of planning, organising and executing these activities.

For young offenders, counselling is a good solution, but it must be coupled with a deterrent - deserving punishment in the form of corrective work - to be effective.
Perhaps young offenders should be given a 'lighter sentence'. They should be made to carry out corrective work only in their school compound, unlike their adult counterparts who have to do it in public places.

Chew Zhi Wen, 20, is currently doing national service. He will study law and economics at NUS.