This blog is closed. 27 September , 2007Posted by eugene in Uncategorized.
After much thought, I have decided to close this blog and concentrate on my business at Green Future Solutions and AsiaIsGreen. Do continue to check out news on the environment and learn what you can do for the environment at www.AsiaIsGreen.com. Thanks.
The first aim of education 20 August , 2007Posted by eugene in 1 Respect Life & Renew Bond.
Singapore’s education system has improved over the years with the commitment from the government. One aspect that needs more emphasis is the respect for life.
After watching Prime Minister Lee’s National Day Rally speech, what stuck in my mind was not the increase in CPF interest rates, nor was it the Home Improvement Programme or Punggol 21-plus. The image that lingered in my mind was the part when PM Lee got emotional and was trying hard not to drop tears when speaking about education. More precisely, he was recalling an email by MP Seng Han Thong on Mayflower Primary School, their can-do and never-say-die spirit, the students who performed confidently on stage, and their proud parents and grandparents.
His voice was wavering but he said it with his heart, “Whichever school you go to, whatever home background you come from, we will help you develop your talents to the fullest.” To some Singaporeans, this might be insignificant or forgettable but to someone who has benefited from the education system, this promise from a leader is welcoming and reassuring. A leader who strongly believes in the power of education is a good leader.
With the commitment from the government, our education system will enable more young people to develop their talents. I must admit that the education system is not perfect but has improved over the years. Besides the emphasis on developing talents, there is something important that I think should be highlighted in our education system. It is based on what Norman Cousin said: “The first aim of education should not be to prepare young people for careers, but to enable them to develop a respect for life.”
Although the education system is focused on developing talents for young people to advance in their careers, more time should be spent on helping them develop a respect for life. Developing respect means recognising and remembering that all living things, including humans, nature and its biodiversity, have a right to live on this planet and a purpose in life. We should treat all living things as part of us and do no harm to them. Let us not forget that humans are only one species out of millions of species that live on this Earth. And understand that we all share this planet and respect for each other is the only way for survival. Without that respect for life, a person with talents will not hesitate to harm fellow humans or other biodiversity. A person who strongly believes in the respect for life is a good person.
Support Local 9 August , 2007Posted by eugene in 5 Support Local Initiatives & Groups, 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
Most people are not aware of the environmental products and services available in Singapore. Sometimes when we advise people to go green, their reply was that it is hard to go green locally given the limited resources or products and services. I’m creating an online green resource guide to showcase information on green products and services. This would help more people to understand the green choices available in Singapore, and to buy and support local companies and products. SUPPORT LOCAL!
To sidetrack abit, just watched Royston Tan’s 881 yesterday. Really enjoyed the film, great acting by the Papaya Sisters and the music is excellent. Thinking of getting the film soundtrack… Must watch local films. SUPPORT LOCAL!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SINGAPORE! And in 881 spirit, SINGAPORE HUAT AH!
Updates 27 July , 2007Posted by eugene in Uncategorized.
I have not been blogging regularly as I’m planning to start my own business soon. More details later. Also realised that some comments are captured by the system as spam and deleted without my consent. I have not seen comments posted by readers since May as they are deleted as spam. So please forgive me for not responding to some of your comments. The system is so effective in classifying comments as spam that it reminds me of a Chinese saying: Ning ke sa chuo, bu ke fang guo.
Read Jul 07 27 July , 2007Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge.
Some books that I read this month:
This Moment on Earth: Today’s New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future by John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben
Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage by Heather Rogers
After Live Earth, Give Up Hope 7 July , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
My letter below was published in Today on 6 Jul 07. There were some changes made to the content by the editor.
Live Earth, which will be held tomorrow across seven continents, is the brainchild of Al Gore, an environmental activist and former United States Vice-President, and will involve performers, who aim to spread awareness of climate change.
As the world waits for this monumental 24-hour event, I wonder what will happen after Live Earth ends. Will more people be concerned about climate change and start taking action?
If there is only one message to remember after watching Live Earth, it is this: Give up hope.
Give up hope that everything will turn out fine. Give up hope that Al Gore, Madonna or Linkin Park will save the world from climate change.
Give up hope that governments will do something for us.
Give up hope that the person beside you will do something.
Give up hope that some new technology will save us.
Give up hope – because when hope dies, that’s when action begins.
When we give up hope that somebody or something will save us, we have no choice but to take matters into our own hands.
We have to do it ourselves and everyone can and must do something. It is not science, technology or governments that are creating this climate change problem but every one of us. Stop pointing the finger at others and take action now.
One, we can learn more about climate change and read up on related local and global issues. What are the problems and what needs to be done?
Two, minimise your daily energy usage and wastage. Switch off lights and computers when they are not in use. Use more efficient lighting and appliances.
Three, spread the message and influence others. We can educate family members, friends, classmates or colleagues on climate change. We can influence the groups to which we belong, whether it is a school, company or social group, to reduce its carbon footprint.
Four, support local environmental initiatives and groups that tackle climate change. We can participate in government initiatives and campaigns, or support the local environmental non-governmental organisations. We can join their activities or volunteer our time.
Five, use our rights as citizens and consumers. As citizens, we can participate in formulating government policies regarding climate change through dialogues, feedback or the media. As consumers, we can buy products with smaller carbon footprints or support companies that actively lower their carbon emissions.
Remember that after watching Live Earth: Give up hope. Because when hope dies, action begins.
Investing in environmental companies (continued) 29 June , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
More info about the zero certs:
- The zero certs launched by ABN AMRO are actually call warrants without any leverage.
- ABN AMRO do not charge management fees for the zero certs but the dividends paid by the companies in the index goes to them, that’s how they make money.
- When the index reaches its maturity date after 3 years, the cash balance is settled and returned to the investor.
- Details on the companies in the Climate Change & Environment Index are shown in the attached file.
Read Jun 07 29 June , 2007Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge.
Some books that I read this month:
The Natural Heritage of Singapore by Hugh T.W. Tan, L.M. Chou, Darren C.J. Yeo and Peter K.L. Ng
Oil on the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline by Lisa Margonelli
Sustainable Living for Dummies by Michael Grosvenor
Schroders Global Climate Change Fund 20 June , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
Schroders is launching the Schroders Global Climate Change Fund in the UK. The Fund invests in companies involved in the mitigation or adaptation of climate change. Not sure whether this fund will be available to local investors. There will be a seminar on investing in climate change and the fund on 17 Jul (6.30-8pm) at Aviva@Cecil. Register at the dollarDEX website.
Investing in environmental companies 15 June , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
ABN Amro launched ten Zero Strike Participation Certificates last week, including ten emerging markets and two themed zero certs. One of the themed zero certs is the ABN AMRO Climate Change & Environment Price Return Index. The index tracks 30 environmental companies in the following sectors: Ethanol; Hydroelectric Power; Other Alternative Fuels; Platinum and Palladium Mining; Solar Power; Water; Waste Management; and Wind Power. Some companies in the index include big players such as Veolia Environment, Waste Management Inc, Vestas Wind Systems, Suntech Power, Allied Waste Industries, etc.
The environment themed zero cert gives local investors another investment choice besides investing in stocks of individual environmental companies or energy related unit trusts. My understanding of the new zero certs is limited. The zero certs are actually call warants that expire on a certain date and can be traded like stocks. The environment index zero certs expires on 28 Mar 2010. For more info, ABN AMRO will be holding a free seminar on the zero certs on 28 Jun at the SGX Centre. To register, check out ABN AMRO’s website.
There is no guarantee that environmental companies will do well but climate change and the environment will continue to be a hot issue over the next few years. More countries and companies will take action to improve their environmental performance and clean up their act. And this means business for environmental companies who help to clean up the land, water, air, and provide clean energy.
Ignorance is Bliss? 4 June , 2007Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge.
Can anyone be unaware of environmental problems in this digital age? Are we really ignorant or do we feign ignorance when we do not take action to change? Or maybe the truth is we don’t want to change?
We take no action because we don’t know _____.
Now we know _____ but we don’t have time to do _____.
Now we have time but there are other things more important.
Now we completed the other things but it is too late to do _____.
We take no action because _____ is now gone.
Copyright Bill Watterson
Read May 07 23 May , 2007Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge.
Some books that I read this month:
The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken
Global Warming: The Complete Briefing by John Houghton
The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson
Climate Change: A Guide For The Perplexed 18 May , 2007Posted by eugene in 2 Improve Awareness & Knowledge.
The latest issue of New Scientist has a special report on climate change. The report answers questions on 26 common myths and misconceptions, to help people who are confused about global warming and climate change. Worth checking it out. Ignorance is no longer bliss in this digital age.
Global Warming: Four Possible Scenarios 15 May , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
I REFER to the article, ‘Why I am not a climate change sceptic’ by Warren Fernandez (ST, May 12).
For sceptics, is it possible to not believe in global warming but still take action? What if we do not presume that global warming is happening? Can we look at different scenarios and choose what to do?
Let us imagine four simple scenarios.
Scenario One is called ‘Happily Ever After’, where there is no global warming and no early action taken. The sceptics were right. No money was spent to implement useless plans to tackle climate change. Everyone lived happily ever after.
Scenario Two is called ‘Pat On The Back’, where there is global warming and early action was taken. Global warming is happening but with less impact because we took preventive actions. Money was spent but it turned out to be a good investment. We gave ourselves a pat on the back for doing what was necessary and right.
Scenario Three is called ‘No Regrets’ where there is no global warming and early action was taken. The scientists were wrong and money was wasted. Sceptics lambasted that the money could have been used instead to help developing countries.
But the scientists retorted that the sceptics were right with hindsight. The money spent was not wasted, it was used to make buildings and transport energy-efficient; develop alternative energy and reduce reliance on oil; and conserve trees and natural habitats.
We are not short of money, we are short of political will power and foresight. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that stabilising greenhouse gases at 535 to 590 parts per million will reduce the global economy in 2050 by 1.3 per cent. In 2005, global advertising expenditure alone was 1.3 per cent of world GDP and is sufficient to help developing countries meet United Nations millennium development goals.
Scenario Four is called ‘Reap And Sow’, where there is global warming and no action was taken. We see the impact of climate change, and now everyone believes. But it is too late. We reap what we sow.
Which scenario will happen?
If we take action, we either have no regrets or can pat ourselves on the back in the future. Nothing much to lose and everything to gain.
If we do not take action, we either live happily ever after or reap what we sow. Everything to gain or everything to lose.
What is your choice?
Voluntary Packaging Agreement 14 May , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
An article was published in the Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao regarding the Voluntary Packaging Agreement. More than 10 food and beverage manufacturers will sign the Voluntary Packaging Agreement next month. They will promise to reduce the material used for their product packaging.
Mr Ong Seng Eng, Director of the Resource Conservation Department, National Environment Agency (NEA), said that to effectively reduce packaging waste, we cannot just depend on public education about the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), we must also work closely with those involved with the source of the packaging waste – the manufacturers, importers and retailers.
The amount of packaging waste such as paper cartons, boxes, plastic and glass bottles, drink cartons and cans, adds up to 35% of the total household waste. NEA together with the Packaging Council of Singapore (PCS) and the Singapore Environment Council formed a working committee last year to address this packaging waste problem.
The Chairman of PCS said that they are partnering with their counterparts in Japan, Australia and New Zealand to learn from their experiences in making packaging more environmentally friendly. He also revealed that manufacturers are worried about consumers’ acceptability of products with environmentally friendly packaging, and the cost of redesigning the new packaging. However, manufacturers acknowledge that consumers are more concerned about the environment,and improving their packaging becomes inevitable.
Creative Commons Photo Credit
The real culprit of global warming? Human activities 5 May , 2007Posted by eugene in 6 Use Rights as Citizens & Consumers.
My letter was published today in the Straits Times Online Forum. Thanks to the ST editor for keeping the content intact and not trimming down such a long letter.
I REFER to the article, ‘Who or what is the real culprit?’ (ST, May 1), by Dr Andy Ho.
Dr Ho discussed three main points to debunk man-made global warming. One, there is no scientific consensus. Two, there is contradictory evidence and other causes. Three, it is caused by the sun. He is entitled to his views but I will offer my views to explain why I disagree with him.
In my opinion, there are two ways in which people reach consensus on global warming – after looking at the evidence or after hearing what other people say.
To show that there is no consensus, Dr Ho quotes three scientists – Richard Lindzen, John Christy and Paul Reiter. Through their quotes in the press and the documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, Dr Ho suggests that there is no consensus among scientists and even within the IPCC.
On the other hand, I can show scientific consensus by listing national science academies that agree with man-made global warming and they include: National Academy of Sciences (United States of America); Science Council of Japan; Russian Academy of Sciences; Australian Academy of Sciences; Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts; Brazilian Academy of Sciences; Royal Society of Canada; Caribbean Academy of Sciences; Chinese Academy of Sciences; French Academy of Sciences; German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina; Indian National Science Academy; Indonesian Academy of Sciences; Royal Irish Academy; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy); Academy of Sciences Malaysia; Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; and Royal Society (UK).
Incidentally, the documentary has received complaints of being misleading and one-sided. In addition, a professor of physical oceanography at MIT who gave comments in the documentary is considering legal action against the producers after saying his comments were taken out of context to mislead people that man-made global warming is not real. He believes that ‘climate change is real, a major threat and almost surely has a major human-induced component’.
So who is right? People have different views on issues, therefore, consensus should not be based on who is saying what but should be based on scientific evidence. This brings me to Dr Ho’s second point.
The evidence that Dr Ho presented says that temperature rise precedes carbon rise by 800 years. Carbon dioxide is not causing global warming and the culprit could likely be water vapour, methane or nitrous oxide. His point is that carbon dioxide is not causing higher temperatures, therefore humans are not the cause of global warming.
What causes global warming? To answer that, we need to first understand the concept of radiative forcing and that carbon dioxide is not the only cause of global warming.
According to the IPCC report, radiative forcing is ‘a measure of the influence that a factor has in altering the balance of incoming and outgoing energy in the Earth’s atmosphere system and is an index of the importance of the factor as a potential climate change mechanism. Positive forcing tends to warm the surface while negative forcing tends to cool it’.
Different radiative forcing sources include carbon dioxide, mehane, nitrous oxide, ozone, surface albedo, aerosols and solar irradiance. Warming or cooling periods in the past are affected by the contribution from each forcing source, and is decided by the forcings that dominate or is amplified. Carbon dioxide is the dominant contribution to positive radiative forcing in recent times due to emissions from human activities, which is why it contributes mainly to global warming.
The idea that temperature rise precedes carbon rise is not new and can be found in several published papers. In a paper published in Science magazine by Caillon et al (2003), it was stated that ‘the 800-year time lag is short in comparison with the total duration of the temperature and CO2 increases (~5,000 years)’.
It takes about 5,000 years for glacial-interglacial warming to happen and if the first 800 years of temperature rise is not caused by carbon rise, we cannot conclude that the remaining 4,200 years is not caused by carbon rise.
The first 800 years of warming could be due to one or more of the other radiative forces besides carbon dioxide, and then amplified by the radiative forcing due to carbon dioxide for the other 4,200 years. Therefore, the 800-year lag cannot conclude that carbon dioxide is not causing global warming.
Dr Ho suggested that the global warming culprit could be other gases because methane is 27 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and water vapour and nitrous oxide are each 380 times more powerful.
According to the IPCC report, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in 2005 is 379ppm, methane is 1.774ppm, and nitrous oxide is 0.319ppm. Carbon dioxide still exerts greater radiative forcing than methane and nitrous oxide because it is in higher concentrations.
The IPCC includes water vapour in its climate models, although not as a radiative forcing but as a feedback. Although water vapour makes up the bulk of greenhouse gases, it is considered as a feedback because it has conflicting feedbacks on the greenhouse effect, and it also does not stay in the atmosphere for a long time.
Water vapour has a positive feedback by acting as a greenhouse gas and causing warming but it also has a negative feedback when it becomes clouds and reflecting solar radiation, thus causing cooling.
The third point by Dr Ho is that global warming is caused by the sun. He is partly right, global warming is caused by the sun and the associated water vapour and clouds, but they are not the dominant culprit.
The Earth is warmed by the sun and has an effect on climate. According to the IPCC report, ‘changes in solar irradiance since 1750 are estimated to cause a radiative forcing of +0.12 W/m2’, compared to total net anthropogenic radiative forcing of +1.6 W/m2.
Human activities still play a bigger role than the sun. In addition, a review paper in Nature by Foukal et al (2006) concluded that ‘brightening of the sun is unlikely to have had a significant influence on global warming since the 17th century’.
The existing evidence and explanations available are sufficient to convince me that recent global warming is caused by human activities.
I hope that Dr Ho and other readers will not accept everything I say but to look at the scientific evidence and explanations, and then make up their mind on whether recent global warming is man-made and what actions to take.