Sunday, September 29, 2013

Climate change is real

You'd think that by 2013, 99.9% of the world would agree that humans have disrupted the balance of the hydrologic, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon cycle. There's too much evidence in our every day lives to ignore it. 

We're not quite there yet. As of Friday, September 27th,  95% of the scientific world agrees that climate change exists. 

On Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed, with scientific investigations, research, and data to back it up (especially for all the nonbelievers), that "half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures since the 1950s" is human caused. 

Compare the 95% consensus to the general mindset in 2001; 66% to 95% is a big jump. Several organizations, such as and The Consensus Project attempt to bring awareness to the masses with simple graphics and campaigns. Their one goal is to educate the public about the degradation of the planet and possible solutions. 

Their reasoning is clear. When the public understands climate change, the causes behind devastating hurricanes and floods stand out. Air pollution and heat waves will be seen as effects of anthropogenic activity. People will begin to realize the impact (financial, environmental, and social) of thermal expansion on ice, glaciers and ice caps melting, and sea levels rising. They'll start reflecting on humanity's actions, think of innovative solutions, and mold the rigid economic systems that restrict much needed actions. 

The 399 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere isn't going to disappear over night. Hundreds of factors come into play when making decisions that will mitigate the adverse consequences of climate change. Reaching the truth is definitely one of them. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Environmental updates!

School has begun again! With the homework and tests come exciting environmental initiatives. There are so many ideas and so much energy among the green community - the perfect combination to act! 

Our school installed 3356 solar panels over the summer, with the help of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and a local solar energy company Sunseap! They account for 30% of the school's energy consumption and can produce 1 MW of power on the sunniest, clearest days. The Middle School Global Issues Network (GIN) club will be working with the High School SAVE and GIN club to present the school's new source of renewable energy to the whole community. It's a great example of direct steps taken by the school to become a greener campus! 

I'm taking a class called Senior Capstone this year. It's an opportunity to independently research and study a subject of my choice. I chose the environment (no surprise!); I'm using Singapore American School (SAS - my school) as a case study, as well as some Canadian schools, and creating a green guidebook for already established schools. My focus is not on the physical campus but the additional efforts a school can take to become a more environmentally friendly community. I'm splitting up initiatives in terms of student driven, technology, and waste management. It's a work in progress but I love being able to connect it to the current AP Environmental Science (APES) class I'm taking. I'm learning of plenty of real life examples to apply my growing understanding of the environment. 

In the past few weeks, I've gone to a couple of talks on biodiversity and plastic. The Singapore Land Transport Authority is planning to build an MRT through the primary forests of Macritchie reservoir. Last Thursday, as a part of a biodiversity talk, botanist Joseph Lai went through 200 slides of pictures (taken by him) of the unique species that live in Singapore's primary forests. He knew all of them by heart and it was incredible to see the variety of life that exists on this once tropical forested island. Visit to join the protest against the cutting down of this rich primary forest! 

Two weeks ago, I also went to a Plastic Symposium held by the National University of Singapore's SAVE (Students Against the Violation of the Environment) group. They invited several guest speakers - an environmental entrepreneur engaged on the business side of things, a government representative from the National Environment Agency, and an NUS professor who spoke about the impact of plastic on marine life. It was so interesting to see so many different schools there to understand the state of plastic waste in Singapore, despite the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon. I found it especially interesting that plastic, whether recycled or not, is always incinerated in Singapore. 

The year's off to a great start and I'm proud to say I'm a part of it!