I’ve long subscribed to the notion that all changes come from within. If you can change your own mindset, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I’ve also applied the same philosophy to my attitude towards my environment. I may not be able to stop the slash and burn farming communities from creating haze or save a unique species of wild life but I try to do what I can do in my daily life. I believe strongly that it is important to live a life that is conscious and aware. Don’t just sleep walk through your daily life because every single action you do in your life plays a part in helping shape the person you are and your impact on the environment around you.
The world as we know it is falling apart and it affects us all. I remember how when I was in primary school (about 25 yrs ago) and I had to leave my home at 6am to get to school on time. The mornings used to be so cool that a jacket was necessary and in the evenings, I’ll rush to the nearby park at about 4pm to play with my friends. Due to global warming, Singapore is crazily hot these days and you don’t get a chill in the early mornings anymore. 4pm is still too hot to let the children play in the park and even at 5pm, there aren’t many parents that are willing to let their children bake in the hot weather for fear of a heatstroke. In fact, now that Singapore is plagued with haze, I don’t think children should come out anymore. This climate change is not only pertaining to Singapore. All around the world, the weather has gone crazy with deep winter lasting till mid summer and lack of rain in others. Natural disasters have been happening more frequently with even greater intensity each year.
It’s true that these are generally classified as “Acts of God” but even God can only help those who help themselves. I’m not the finest example of a green activist. I don’t hug trees or forsake modern amenities but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do little bits to improve. After all, Earth is a gift that is meant to be shared. If everyone just did a little bit more, imagine the impact on the whole world? I hate being preachy and I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to share what I have learnt and how I’ve chosen to act with that knowledge. If it inspires you to be more conscious and aware of your actions towards the blessing of mother nature, it’s even better.
I’ve read a book by Mark Lynas called “Six Degrees – Our Life on a Hotter Planet”. Some of the revelations are so scary, that I fear I might see them happen in my lifetime and chances are even higher that the next generation will have to fight an even tougher battle to survive. A single degree doesn’t seem much to us, but when it comes to the planet, it could mean a survival issue. To give you an idea of how fast this is happening, the world temp has risen 0.7°C over past 10 years which means to reach 3°C (which is the point of no return) at the same rate, it’ll only take 43 years. Chances are that I will still be alive to see the horrible changes that’s why I think it’s important to spread the message of change.
The book shows the changes of the planet up to 6 degrees of climate change but let me share with you a summary of what global warming results in with every single degree of temperature change up to 3 degrees. Why only 3 degrees? Because I think that if we don’t change our ways by then, it might not matter what happens after because people will go to war just to find a place they can survive.
(already some of the predicted changes are underway)
- It has been calculated that a one-degree increase would eliminate fresh water from a third of the world’s land surface by 2100.
- The ice in the seas around the North Pole will continue to melt. This will affect animals like polar bears (I’m sure you’ve heard that they have been drowning due to lack of floating ice), seals and sea birds (they are currently already starting to decrease in numbers). The same will happen for many other animals in the world. The ice and snow on many mountains will disappear.
- Africa’s three highest peaks will have lost half their glacial area compared to 1987. This will affect downstream water supply, wildlife and bio-diversity.
- Rock-falls will be widespread in alpine regions due to loss of alpine permafrost which will have implications for population settlements in those regions.
- Coral reefs are already in serious danger. Some 70% of reefs world-wide are dead or dying.
- Increase of frequency and intensity of hurricanes due to warmer seas (Katrina will be considered a small one by then). Hurricanes will also start appearing in places that have had no previous history of hurricanes occurring.
- The seas will rise, so that large areas will be flooded. Millions of people in low lying areas (such as Bengal, in Northern India, where about a half a billion people live) will become homeless.
- At this stage, the release of greenhouse gases are beginning to alter the oceans. Just two degrees of global warming may upset the balance of some parts of the southern oceans, killing one of life’s essential building blocks, plankton.
- Heatwaves will strike with a vengeance causing masses to die, forest fires to be rampant and many crops will die.
- The haze that we are getting today will be much worse and most like be a permanent fixture.
- A lot of the inland ice in Greenland will melt, which will make the world’s oceans will rise. Some islands in the Pacific Ocean will probably disappear completely (Singapore’s reclaim lands might be one of the first to go).
- Monsoons would increase in India and Bangladesh leading to mass migration of its populations.
- Many sea animals and plants (more than a third) will become extinct.
- International food price stability will have to be agreed to prevent widespread starvation.
- The ice in the sea around the North Pole will melt completely.
- Africa will be split between the north which will see a recovery of rainfall and the south which becomes drier. This drier southern phase will be beyond human adaptation. Wind speeds will double leading to serious erosion of the Kalahari desert.
- The tropical rainforest in the Amazon will dry out completely, and there will be large forest fires. After this, deserts will replace the rainforest. Powerful hurricanes will ravage towns and country districts.
- Indian monsoon rains will fail. Monsoons are essential to 60% of the world’s population. In a 3° world monsoons will become more variable either failing entirely or causing devastating flooding.
- The Himalayan glaciers provide the waters of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, the Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers. In the early stages of global warming these glaciers will release more water but eventually decreasing by up to 90%. Pakistan will suffer most, as will China’s hydro-electric industry.
- Australia will become the world’s driest nation. Days when the temperatures exceed 40°C will increase sixfold, the drought frequency will triple and rainfall plummet by 25% with extreme winds.
- A 3°C rise will see more extreme cyclones tracking across the Atlantic and striking the UK, Spain, France and Germany. Holland will become very vulnerable. By 2070 northern Europe will have 20% more rainfall and at the same time the Mediterranean will be slowly turning to a desert.
- East Africa will become more humid encouraging a greater incidence of malaria and dengue fever.
- In the Arctic, 80% of sea ice will have melted.
- Many plant species will become extinct as they will be unable to adapt to such a sudden change in climate.
- According to ClimateTracker.org, at the current rate we are going, even if all the countries acted on ALL their current eco-friendly commitments that they’ve internationally agreed on, the world would still warm by 3 degrees .
- Food shortages will develop many place on Earth. Millions of refugees will cross borders to settle where the earth can be cultivated (Singapore doesn’t even produce enough food for our current population).
- Conflicts and wars will develop, when people and countries disagree about the right to food and water.
- There is a chance that we will no longer be able to return to a normal climate.
What do you think Singapore will be like in a 3 degrees hotter climate? Watch the video to find out!
Okay, most parts but not all of Singapore will be underwater yet but I think you can see how quickly things can head downhill from there. Every single one of us should do our part to change our mindset that we can’t just let the world die. We need to take a part in preventing global warming (to reduce the rate) even if it’s in small ways. Educating the people around you and making eco-living a natural way of life is the only way we can save the earth for ourselves and our future generations.