November 14, 2009
Last month, the Hantu Blog was invited to attend the Green Singapore 2050 Summit by the Singapore Environmental Council, to give a talk about Singapore’s coral reefs and why they should be protected. About 300 students from various primary and secondary schools in Singapore attended the 4-hr talk, and learned about a variety of issues like climate change, consumerist habits, waste management, and of course threats to coral reefs. It was a lot of stuff for 4-hrs!
The event was organised by Singapore’s Northwest Community Development Council. Apart from the Hantu Blog, other speakers present at the talk were Howard Shaw (above: left) from SEC, Ang Jian Zhong (above: right) from the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and the founder of Green Kampong Nadya Hutagalung. Because of the diverse backgrounds each of the speakers were from, students got a nice grasp of all the little things that comprise the environment – from big things like air and water pollution, to the waste each of us generates, to the tinsy details about how each and every person can make a difference. Jian Zhong started off by giving a brief history of the Singapore environmental movement. He talked about the challenges a land scarce nation like Singapore is up against, and the technology and ideas that spawn from being confronted with such challenges.
Howard sproke briefly about brown issues in Singapore and his experience in the field of waste management. He encouraged the students to consider and pursue careers in environmental management, saying it is the industry of the future as many challenges lie ahead of us where the environment is concerned.
Nadya (left) gave a broader picture of environmental issues and how Singaporeans can relate to things that are happening on a global scale and how our efforts can have a universal impact. She spoke about her latest mission to inspire and educate people in Singapore about how it is possible to live a sustainable lifestyle within a highly consumerist society like ours, where cars are scrapped after 10 years and everything is served in disposable packaging.
She illustrated examples of how ordinary people from all walks of life can make big differences by changing the little things that they do on a daily basis.
The students were excited and had many questions for her during the question and answer session at the end of the 4 presentations.
Then my turn came along. I was the last speaker (below). Not only that, I was the 1st speaker after the tea break so everyone was buzzing and full of tea and sandwiches. Thankfully, because corals and naturally colourful and beautiful, and sea creatures are naturally curious-looking or cute, it wasn’t difficult to keep the students awake and listening. Students and teachers got a crash course on corals, reefs, and marine life in Singapore. It fascinated many students and teachers, who later got very excited at the possibility of watching some videos of marine life in Singapore, which Howard kindly made extra time for before the Q&A session. While fascinated, the reality and severity of the threats our reefs are faced with obviously rang some alarm bells amongst the students because a lot of questions were asked about what can be done to halt or prevent our reefs from disappearing, and how marine life can be protected from harm! It was delightful to have the students voicing out their concerns, and it’s very apparent that everyone wants to live in a future Singapore that is not only clean and beautiful, but at least still a little bit “wild”.