Youth to Power. A Slice of Impact.

Climate Change no doubt has caused a stir globally with multitude of issues intertwined together.

Climate change as huge as it sounds, may seem far from our home. But Singapore’s impact in contributing to climate issues have a larger impact on our country than we have thought it would be.

One of the Climate issue we face is the increase in temperature climate. Over the past few years, Singapore and many parts of the world have been experiencing a lot heat increase compared to last year’s temperature change. This increase in heat brought along other pressing issues that we face such as, changing wildlife habitat, rising sea levels, increase in natural disasters and disruptions in human activities.

Changing Scene of Andorra (Taken in Aug 2016 — Earthwatch Expedition)

As the heat increases, this caused a great change in the wildlife habitat. Experts predicted that one-fourth of Earth’s species will be headed for extinction by 2050 if the warming trend continues at its current rate. Singapore is home to over 4000 native species, with our increase issues in land constraint, our biodiversity are struggling to adapt with our living environment, with the climate changing, it adds on as a challenge for them to survive.

Change in climate affect the wildlife’s food and water sources, their adaptability in the temperature as well as their reproduction rates. The wildlife biodiversity serves a great importance to the Eco system. Take Andorra for example. A European country situated between Spain and France that has a similar land size as Singapore. A study conducted that I had volunteered in with the Earthwatch Scientist have shown that the changes in bio diversity affected both air and water supplies. The effects on agriculture will be noticeable, so does an increased risk of landslides and snow avalanches is noted with this change in biodiversity.

Bishan’s otter family at Gardens by the Bay East, with the Marina Bay area in the background. PHOTO: JEFFERY TEO

Thus, study of biodiversity is a crucial part in understanding our ecosystem and predicting threats. Currently in Singapore, Nparks and Non Profit Groups (NGOs) like Love Macritche, Nature Society Singapore and Herpetological Society Singapore have been taking measures in protecting and raising awareness on our local biodiversity and how we can live in harmony with our 4000 different native species neighbors.

As the temperature of the world increases, risk of natural disasters increased as well. Heat islands are induced. As mentioned with the example in Andorra, when the temperature changes affecting precipitation it actually causes drought in the region.

Forest fire in Upper Serangoon Road

Singapore geographically is situated on lower lying regions in the world, thus any change in temperature is amplified to us. In recent years, we tend to experience flooding in our central city like the one that happened in Orchard a few years back. We also experienced forests fires, like the one happened a few years back in upper Serangoon road next to a neighborhood Secondary School.

Droughts and dry climate affects the forest moisture and increases the likelihood of a forest fire due to human error or lightning strikes. The Increase in natural disasters affect our nation’s security, health and economy. As we these incidents poses a threat to our health and could potentially injure our biodiversity, measures are needed to be taken to reduce and protect our environment, these measures could be costly to be executed and not many countries have the privilege to have enough funds to protect their people from natural disasters. Countries like Philippines which is prone to experience several natural disasters a year are facing high challenges in rebuilding societies and preventing damage from natural disasters.

In the past few years, Our Seas have been drastically changing due to several climate issues.

Rising Sea levels, a well known issue that have been affecting countries around the world. Singapore as mentioned have been experiencing a high level of flooding in recent times. A lot of our daily routines were heavily affected when we experienced the Monsoon seasons. However, there are much more damage the sea could actually cause with its increase in sea levels. Rising sea levels could cause imbalance of mass across the earth’s surface putting a strain on the underlying earth and cause pressure that could lead to earthquakes and tsunamis. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration promotes community resilience towards coastal threats like the Tsunami.

Another Change our Seas have also been experiencing is an increase in temperature which affects the life below water. A Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) the United Nation has on it’s agenda to protect and this heat also affects corals to bleach. Thankfully local groups like the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore have been continually raising awareness and taking action to clean up our coastal areas with beach cleanup and data collections on the human impact that have been polluting our waters and affecting it.

With All these strain on our ocean, it caused me to wonder what role does the sea in return plays into Climate Change?

The Sea plays an important role in climate issue as the Sea acts as a temperature conveyor belt. With the concept of hot air rising and cold air sinks, the Sea absorbs the heat and it slowly sinks its way to Antarctica.

Antarctica in return is like the planet’s Air conditioner, it cools our planet. But the heat that we produce with climate change is essentially microwaving Antarctica. Antarctica apart from being home to Penguins and cooling our planet, it plays a crucial role in our economy. If Antarctica melts, Singapore’s economy would be disrupted as well. Without Antarctica, there would be faster shipping routes option for traders. Traders could take the southern waters and wouldn’t have to bypass our waters, thus disrupting our shipping supply chain industry and causing an economic disruption.

These are just some of the climate issue that we are currently facing and a lot of them are human induced. Climate issue and human activity have a interrelated relationship they affect one another.

Singapore may be a small nation but our human activity have a strong impact on climate issues.

A few examples are our Energy Consumption such as the high need for Air Conditioners. Our consumption and production patterns that have caused environmental degradation such as the Haze issue in Singapore as well as our food consumption pattern that has a serious carbon impact.

In Singapore, our energy consumption is high which translates a high carbon footprint that we are impacting, In the Paris Climate Agreement, Singapore pledges to reduce our emission intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030. And a research done by Up2degrees (NGO) Singapore’s Air Conditioner consumption represents 36% of total household consumption. Singapore demand for air conditioning is high.

A simple survey was done to understand Singaporeans consumption for Air conditioning shows that Singaporeans actually do feel overly cold at certain locations and is socially shy to take action such as turning the temperature lower, instead we actually get clothes that isn’t suitable for our natural climate to warm ourselves under the Air Conditioners. We actually are using more resources than we actually need. Singapore actually produces more carbon emissions per capita than Hong Kong and Malaysia.

For a small country we do have a high impact.

As our purchasing power increases, our consumption patterns have caused unsustainable production patterns that have led to environmental degradation. Singaporeans have the ability to purchase more and also develop the culture of fast convenience.

Focusing on our Fashion market which is the second most polluting industry after oil and gas. Fast Fashion and our purchasing habits have been creating a problem not only to supplying countries but to our neighboring countries as well. Singapore throws 150,000 tons of textile wastes in 2014. That’s like 120 new Tee Shirt per person in Singapore.

Although we have a lot of charitable organizations collecting clothes and sending them to rural areas, a lot of the fashion shops sell away their unsold past season clothes to companies and shipping it to countries like Indonesia and these clothes are then resold into the market, this actually causes a problem for local store owners that are also selling clothes in the country. Thankfully the culture of Swapping is becoming more prominent in our Local Scenes. Local NGOs like Swapaholic emerge in help in reducing our consumption by encouraging swapping among different people. They have collected and saved closed to 10,000 fashion items from ending up in the landfills.

Another issue that emerged from our consumption habits is the Haze. Although the fire burning is in Indonesia, neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore experience the impact of the fire as well. Apart from Governmental intervention and the new formation of a department handling Haze issues, People’s Movement to Stop Haze was also formed to tackle haze issues by educating our communities on how our food, daily household items could be produced with unsustainable palm oil and how we as an individual take action to stop the haze through our purchasing decisions.

Climate change no doubt is a big challenge with layers of dilemma intertwined together. But a challenge that was able to connect people across different sectors to stand together to take actions.

We have a closely knitted Community of NGOS, focus groups and Societies that works closely with our governmental organizations and businesses to take action in reducing our negative environmental footprint.

This equation is not complete without the power of youths.

Of the many organizations mentioned, a huge number of them are founded and powered by concerned youths. Without the youth’s gift of curiosity and their power of getting information at a faster rate. A lot of these initiatives wouldn’t have existed nor have been executed.

We would not have enough time to address to climate change without the Youths.

Millennials have come a long way with Climate impact increases violently, we are still able to not only survive in such circumstances but also prosper in times of adversity. This shows the resilience we have to address to making a difference in Climate issues.

Current youths, or millennials have been through the advancement of technology. With the aid of Technology, we have access to greater information and visibility. The power we have today, is the power of having a greater voice with social media aid, greater knowledge of the issue, greater role in influencing the decisions of the private sector as well as the government with our thoughts and purchasing power

On a Singaporean youth perspective we have networks like the Southeast Asian Youth Environmental network (SEAYEN), The U.S. Young Southeast Asian Leadership initiative (YSEALI) and the National Environmental Agency’s (NEA) Youth Environmental Envoy (YEE) and the ASEAN +3 Youth environmental forum which I have been part of them all were conducted to connect youths together to share ideas and plans to help reduce our negative and amplify our positive impacts.

Various NGOs like Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA) have conducted series of youth action empowerment workshops for the communities in Singapore to take action in playing a part to reduce our climate impact through different initiatives our communities are passionate in.

There are existing challenges and solutions out there in the world.

Youths can add value to the solutions. For example, Majority of youths in tertiary education enjoy the benefit of having air conditioned classrooms, we could potentially empower them to take actions like, be more energy efficient in using the air conditioner and to voice out when they feel overly cold. Youths could also use their purchasing power to voice a strength in sustainability. Instead of buying they could swap like what swapaholic is doing, and it’s shown that a lot of the swappers are youths.

We have not inherited this planet by our parents but borrowed it from our Kids.

Youth are the present future and the future’s past they are the key to solving climate issue.

Thus, my solution aims to empower people to take climate action, to add value to existing solutions, leverage on youth’s strength and their flexibility in adaptability to changes.

Our vision is to evolve Singapore into a sustainable hub through inculcating an environmental positive impact culture, starting with the youths.

The solution’s mission is to induce positive behavioral change among youths by empowering youths to create environmental impacts with their passion.

I hope to reduce negative behavior towards environmental sustainability by having youths themselves enjoying the process and the value behind protecting our environment and to be sustainable.

If an individual feels good about their actions it implores them to want to continue. Personally, I am empowered to help the environment as I was a victim of bullying and it was through the value of upcycling I found empowerment. I found the value of myself though understanding the value to want to help the environment to be empowered as well.

Through a community wide effort, the whole program is designed to collaborate with the community and work with existing platforms. We aim to slowly empower organizations that are existing contributing positively to create an environmentally friendly culture among youths and businesses.

In order to reach our vision in creating a sustainable hub through inculcating an environmental positive impact culture, the following objectives which, taken together, will help us to reach our goal:

We are targeting a lower consumption by the youths in the next 5 years.
We aim by the end of 2018, 60% of Singapore youths would be able to understand and share about the existing UN SDG Goals.
And by mid-2018, final program prototype that is developed collectively by the community should be ready.

After the program, youths should be able to understand their potential impact, how privilege we are to be able to have a choice to take climate action and be able to have easier access to contribute their interests in the organizations that have participated.

To reach to our objective, we will reach out to schools and community centers who have shown interest in wanting to empower youths to create a sustainable Singapore with their passion and skills.

We have organizations existing that tackle on climate issues, youths can be part of the action. As mentioned earlier, a lot of the movements and successful initiatives were created out of the curiosity of youths. I hope we could embrace their strength and empower them to take action with existing organizations.

The gravest effect of climate change affect the poorest.

Through this program, it hopes to highlight the disequilibrium among countries, not many youths and nonprofit organizations in the other ASEAN regions have opportunities to be involved in conferences or will have air conditioner as their energy issues. I would like to reach to youth the importance of the ground efforts. Through this I hope to bridge the distance between the other organizations from across the world.

My solution at the end is to inspire, empower and collaborate.

Through this program, we hope to create a bounder less learning with the different organizations. Let’s make use of what we have and the choices we can make to make our only home, planet earth a sustainable place to return to our future.

I believe that doing good is contagious. I will stand firm in doing good. Let’s help our youths to be contagious.

Author’s side note:

Hey thank you for taking interest in reading to the end. Don’t hesitate to contact me to find out more about the youth’s solution.
To find out more about my program or collaborations visit: www.chercadeline.wixsite.com/homepage