Friday, December 21, 2007

Education minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:
“Singapore is tiny. What we do cannot make a significant difference to global warming or the ozone layer.”

The's short review of recent steps taken to promote 'eco-living' in Singapore brings up some interesting developments, but also highlights problems with the public's and media's understanding of environmental issues:

  • Confusing 'green' with 'brown' issues - good waste management and clean streets alone do not make for a 'green' policy, likewise managed landscapes like the Zoo and Night Safari are not really 'nature spots'.
  • The idea that planting trees and gardens will make a place like the new Marina Bay casinos 'green' - considerable expense is required to maintain gardens on buildings, much of the cooling effect touted for the sky gardens on the new 'ecofriendly' HDB flats will be from evaporation of water that has to be pumped to the gardens.
  • That the solution is to build more buildings and structures in line with 'eco-friendly' principles - construction uses up considerable resources and expends much energy; the savings accrued by these new buildings will take a long time to pay off the debt from their construction.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see that the state is paying attention to environmental issues. Perhaps they might now be predisposed to be more receptive to public voices in this area. Given that the economic imperative is the strongest to this government, energy conservation should be the lead issue with which to promote sustainability, because it correlates most directly to cost savings.

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