HOW COME

How Our World Compromise Our Mother Earth

How come nature reserves are important

Image result for bukit timah nature reserve

Bukit Timah Nature Reserves. Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

Most Singaporeans have visited Bukit Timah Nature Reserve at least once in their life. It hosts our highest hill, Bukit Timah, and has been named an ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nations) Heritage Park in 2011 (Lee & Lim, 2015). However, should we pursue economic growth at the risk of our nature?

To us, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve serves as a mean for relaxation and nature-time but to the many species that live there, it is their home. The nature reserve has more than 500 species of wildlife and provides for 1000 species of flowering plants (Lee & Lim, 2015). As Singapore advances, the loss of habitats and biodiversity due to the conversion of land needs to be supported by an increase in efforts to conserve the flora and fauna. Furthermore, Singapore aims to be the greenest city in the world, so how can we forsake our nature reserves? (Kolczak, 2017)

 

Eco-Link@BKE Photo credit: National Parks Board, Singapore

The construction of Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) was once a controversy. It prevented interaction between Bukit Timah Forest and Central Catchment Nature Reserve and this can negatively affect the entire ecosystem (Lee & Lim, 2015). An increase in roadkills was also observed as almost 2 Sunda pangolins, listed as “Critically Endangered” by IUCN and in the Singapore Red Data Book, died yearly between 1994-2014 (Chen, 2017). This brought attention to BKE and the Eco-Link was built in 2013. This facilitated the movement between the two forests and animals, such as the Common Palm Civet and Sunda Pangolin, have been spotted using this eco corridor via camera traps (NParks, 2015).

The success of this project shows that advancement and conservation can coexist and one does not necessarily mean the loss of the other. There will be future developments for Singapore, such as the Cross Island Line, which may threaten the environment, however, I believe that through careful planning and execution, it is possible for Singapore to become the greenest city and continue to prosper. Other countries can also look into urban green planning such that we will not compromise our Mother Earth for our wants.

 

Lim Ning

 

References

Chen, M. (2017, August 15). How effective are wildlife corridors like Singapore’s Eco-Link? Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://news.mongabay.com/2017/07/how-effective-are-wildlife-corridors-like-singapores-eco-link/

Kolczak, A. (2017, August 31). This City Aims to Be the World’s Greenest. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/urban-expeditions/green-buildings/green-urban-landscape-cities-Singapore/

Lee, M., & Lim, F. (2015, November 20). Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_55_2004-12-20.html

NParks. (2015, November 4). Eco-Link@BKE. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://www.nparks.gov.sg/news/2015/11/factsheet-eco-link-at-bke

 

How come we make certain decisions

Hi everyone!

Have you ever wondered why we make certain decisions? How do our beliefs/values shape our opinions and attitudes? Today I will be sharing about some of the values which I base my decisions on and hopefully, after this, you can take some time to reflect upon your own set of values.

Disclaimer: the following is my personal opinion and beliefs, it may or may not be the same for you.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

As a Christian, the Environmental Stewardship Worldview resonates with me the most. God created this earth and instructed Adam, the first representative of humankind, to work and keep the Garden of Eden. We are given authority over all other created beings but this does not mean we can exploit them and ruin this earth. Rather, we have to be responsible stewards and take care of this wonderful world God has provided. This has influenced the way I live and eventually, guided me into taking this course.

People call me frugal, stubborn but I chose to live this way. I always try to minimise consumption because of its unnecessary cost, both in monetary and environmental aspects. My two older sisters usually give me their unwanted items such as clothes and phones and I pretty much grew up without having the need to buy. When my sisters go shopping, I would jokingly scold them because how many pairs of feet do they have such that they need so many pairs of shoes? It’s ridiculous to see their cupboard falling apart due to the vast amount of clothes. Furthermore, the demand for a good drives the supply hence, if we reduce our consumption, the production of such goods will decrease as well. However, I know that some people just wish to dress well and to them, shopping can be a form of relaxation. In those cases, I hope they can consider donating unwanted clothes or recycling the fabric. Some fashion chains, such as Uniqlo, even give out vouchers to encourage these habits.

Uniqlo’s recycling programme. Taken from  http://www.uniqlo.com/en/sustainability/recycle/

As I mentioned earlier, what I have shared is just my own opinion and we can have differing views (comment below!). I hope we can all take some time to reflect on our values and see how our decisions are actually carefully crafted by them.

Lim Ning

How come the cruise industry is more than just tourism

Picture taken from https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/cruises-holidays-book-late-why-marella-itinerary-change-tui-cancelled-stops-a8218051.html

I have always wanted to experience a cruise vacation. The thought of waking up to the sea every day sounds like a dream to me and you get to enjoy the many activities the ship provides. You don’t have travel far to have fun, everything is on the ship! However, the reality that everything is on the ship sounds too good to be true and it has to come with a cost that we, as consumers, don’t consider.

Ever wondered how waste on cruise ships are managed?  Cruise ships produce two types of wastewater; grey water is the water from sinks, showers and cleaning facilities while black water is sewage. On average, a cruise ship can produce up to 1 million gallons of grey water per trip and 8000-21000 gallons of black water daily (Sweeting & Wayne, 2006). This massive amount of wastewater discharge contains “fecal matter, bacteria, viruses, pathogens, nutrients, hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals” (Ombellini, 2013). Extra nutrients accelerate the growth and spread of algae, causing eutrophication. This can reduce the corals’ ability to survive as the algae blocks sunlight from reaching the corals, affecting species that depend on corals and possibly, the entire ecosystem. In addition, pathogens can pose as a threat to both human and marine life.

Cruising may seem like a luxurious vacation idea, however, let us remember the environmental impacts cruising can bring about. As these environmental impacts usually do not affect us directly, we often forget about them and happily continue with our lives, hurting the environment in the process. As consumers, I hope we can make informed decisions and consider the sustainability of our lives.

 

References

Sweeting, J. E., & Wayne, S. L. (2006). 30 A Shifting Tide: Environmental Challenges and Cruise Industry Responses. Cruise ship tourism, 327.

Ombellini, S. (2013, July 19). How do cruise ships impact on the environment. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://ecobnb.com/blog/2013/07/how-does-cruise-ships-impact-on-the-environment/

 

How come the Abbot Point project hurts

 

On 22 December 2015, the Commonwealth Government approved the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project (“Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project.”, 2018). The Abbot Point coal port expansion project, led by India’s Adani Mining in Queensland, Australia, comes at the cost of dredging, where 1.1 million cubic metres of seabed will be cleared (“Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project.”, 2018). Afterwards, the dredge spoil will then be transferred to an industrial land, next to a wetland which houses more than 40,000 aquatic birds(Australia approves Abbot Point coal port expansion, 2015).  When the project is completed, Abbot Point will become one of the largest coal port in the world (Australia approves Abbot Point coal port expansion, 2015).

How does this affect the environment?

Dredging firstly destroys the seabed, affecting the species that live there. Some transient or threatened species, such as the Humpback whale, dugongs and dolphins, which live in the vicinity of Abbot Port may be impacted by the increase in human activity (“Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project.” Appendix Q, 2018). In 2017, coal sediments were found at a concentration of 10% in the Caley Valley wetlands after Cyclone Debbie caused a coal spill (Robertson, 2017). Although Adani claims that there is no significant contamination of coal into the wetlands, obvious blackening of the wetland raises concerns among people.

 

Coal-contaminated wetland. Photo by Dean Sewell

 

The Abbot Point coal port expansion is just one of the many projects that bring about economic benefits at the expanse of our Mother Earth. For our progress, we often neglect the environment, regretting our actions when things are beyond help. Let this be a reminder that the decisions we make affect the environment around us.

Lim Ning

 

References

“Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project.” Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning. February 15, 2018. Accessed October 17, 2018. http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/major-projects/abbot-point-growth-gateway-project.html.

Australia approves Abbot Point coal port expansion. (2015, December 22). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35157946

Robertson, J. (2017, September 20). Adani’s Abbot Point coal spill contaminated wetlands, report finds. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/20/adanis-abbot-point-coal-spill-contaminated-wetlands-report-finds

How come microplastics are a threat?

Microplastics in the sea (Photo retrieved from UTAS)

Microplastics are very small particles of plastic that are smaller than 5mm. They are usually formed through the natural degradation of plastics, such as UV ray, and microbeads, which are found in many cleansing products to act as exfoliation. Little do we know the impact of these little particles as we blindly wash them into the drains…

As microplastics are able to pass through filtration systems, more often than not they are found in our waterways. How does this impact us? It does not directly affect us but it affects the seafood we consume: the marine ecosystem. Microplastics affect the water quality as they carry contaminants and introduces foreign or synthetic compounds into the water. Furthermore, consuming plastic is harmful to marine animals and these microplastics can accumulate over time, killing the animal. If this does not sound serious to you, consider the seafood we eat every day. As we happily consume our favourite seafood, these microplastics can make their way up the food chain, into our body. If microplastics become more severe, we may have to pay more for seafood as their numbers decrease.

Every time we stand on a synthetic field, let this be a reminder of our “contribution” to the environment. Before we take an exfoliation product off the shelves or another plastic bag, I hope we can reconsider whether we truly need them.

Lim Ning

 

References

Marine Litter. (2013, March 15). Retrieved from https://www.greenfacts.org/en/marine-litter/index.htm

Microplastics litter the seafloor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.utas.edu.au/news/2017/7/13/350-microplastics-litter-the-seafloor/

How come we don’t see mammoths anymore?

Movie poster of Ice Age: The Meltdown

The first time I came to know of mammoths is through this movie called Ice Age. The main character, “Manny”, is a Woolly Mammoth which to a young me is a hairy elephant with large husks. Little did I know, Woolly Mammoths are an extinct species and similarly, most of the other characters in the film, such as the Smilodon and Megalonyx, are extinct as well. This hit me hard.

I used to think that the reasons for extinction are adverse environmental changes and that some large animals simply could not fit into Noah’s Ark. However, in class, I was exposed to various hypotheses of extinction and one that intrigued me is overkilling. Due to their large size, these megafaunas, who were more exposed and preferred for their meat, became favourable preys for humans, who were advancing in their hunting ability. As such, these megafaunas decreased in numbers and were eventually wiped out.

So why am I talking about all these history? Given that these megafaunas are long gone, what can we even do to save them? Nonetheless, we can reduce the risks of extinction now. We are going through what is called the 6th mass extinction, whereby we are losing species at a pace never seen before. (Carrington, 2017) If this remains unchanged, our future generations may not have an opportunity to enjoy the wildlife we did. Likewise, without the movie Ice Age, I would never have known the existence of such animals and the reality of extinction.

Lim Ning

References

Photo: https://www.virginmegastore.ae/film-tv/kids-family/ice-age-the-meltdown/p/284636

Damian Carrington. (2017, July 10). Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/international

 

Hello world!

Hi there!

I am Lim Ning, a freshman pursuing Environmental Studies at the National University of Singapore. As I dislike insects, many questioned why I chose this course but hopefully, through this course, I can begin to understand their vital role in the ecosystem and better appreciate them.

HOW COME stands for How Our World Compromise Our Mother Earth and in the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing on my personal takeaways from class. Since you have read to this point, I hope you can continue this journey of reflection with me. Please do leave a comment below for me to know you better!

See you around!

Lim Ning

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