A recently published report has the world reeling with its devastating research on climate change. It’s not the end of the world, though – we’ve got ways on how you and your family can take action.
While Singaporeans were busy commemorating National Day on Monday 9 August 2021, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report the same day that has left the rest of the world shaken, scared, and anxious. Now you may be wondering: “Who or what is IPCC? What’s this report that’s gotten everyone talking about climate change? How does this affect me and my kids?”
What you need to know about IPCC and the report
The IPCC was formed in 1988, endorsed by the UN, and consists of leading climate scientists. The organisation is tasked with preparing in-depth reports on the world’s climate, and how it’ll affect us. The first report came out in 1990, warning everyone of the potential consequences of rising greenhouse gases emission. Well, we know how that turned out… Reports are produced around every seven years and run thousands of pages. It’s probably even thicker than Tolstoy’s War and Peace!
Monday’s report is the first part of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report; the remaining two, which will highlight the impacts of climate change and ways to reduce them, will be published next year.
Tell us the bad news then…
According to the report, the IPCC predicted that global temperatures are expected to increase up to 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 10 years if greenhouse gas emissions remain the same. 1.5 degrees doesn’t sound like much, but it is when Singapore’s current heat is already barely bearable. Did you know that our country’s annual mean temperatures went from 26.9 degrees Celsius in 1980 to 28.0 degrees Celsius last year? So scratch that, 1.5 degrees will be too much to bear.
There’s also the issue of more rainfall: heavy precipitation will occur more frequently and intensely. As I’m writing this, it’s raining heavily outside. It’s August, when it’s supposed to be sunny, hot, and humid. Is this a sign? Also, if more (and extreme) rainfall were to take place in Singapore, flash floods will become more common.
Because of soaring temperatures, the ice caps are going to melt. This, in turn, will contribute to rising sea levels. To date, sea level has already risen by 20 centimetres. Not to worry though, this phenomenon is a long and drawn-out process. Plus, changes in sea level vary globally.
Is it time to be scared?
In the IPCC report, climate scientists declared that “humans are to blame” for the climate crisis. And if we continue to do what we’re currently doing, more irreversible changes will take place. These include losing the Amazon rainforest and the melting of West Antarctica’s ice sheet, which then causes a three-metre rise in sea level. So let’s face the cold, hard truth: climate change is real, and it’s all because of us.
Are we running out of time? Not entirely. The next decade is crucial for us to stay within the 1.5 degrees. Back in February of this year, Singapore introduced its Green Plan 2030, which aims to advance the country’s sustainable development. Targets include planting more trees, increasing solar energy usage, and helping schools become carbon neutral.
“Alright I’m up to speed with everything, so how can I play my part?”
What you can do to tackle climate change
We’ve already talked about how to be an environmentally friendly family, how to teach sustainability to your children, and where to dispose of your recyclables. More can be done, and here are other things that you can do:
1. Plant a tree
As mentioned, one of Singapore’s key targets is to plant a million trees. You can be part of that initiative by contributing to the Plant-A-Tree Programme by Garden City Fund. A minimum donation of $300 will be able to plant a tree in one of Singapore’s parks. Or, contribute in non-monetary ways such as developing outreach and green activities. You can also consider volunteering with NParks.
If you don’t have the time and/or money to do the above, you can still do something from the comfort of your home. How? By using Ecosia as your browser’s search engine. With every search that you do, the generated income is used to plant trees in areas that need them, such as South America, Africa, and Indonesia. On average, 45 online searches are needed to plant one tree. Who would’ve thought, eh… Psst, the company is very transparent with its monthly financial reports and tree planting receipts, in case you’re into that sort of thing. Plus, your privacy is protected. This means no selling of data and no random ads appearing on your social media. Good!
2. Compost your food waste
In this tiny red dot, around 750 million kilograms of food goes to waste each year. That’s equivalent to two bowls eaten by one person per day. But what can you do with the leftovers that kiddos don’t want to consume? We’ve listed a few tips here, but here’s another option: composting. NParks has prepared a composting guide to help you kickstart this journey. Just remember that no cooked foods, animal-based food scraps, human waste, or non-biodegradables should be thrown into your compost bin. Unless you want to attract pests and have unpleasant smells wafting throughout your house.
3. Switch to organic foods
Mention organic food, and the first thing Singaporeans would say is, “Isn’t that expensive?” (Yes, I’m guilty of that thought too.) Sure, the cost is slightly higher compared to buying non-organic produce. In the long run, however, your purchases are assisting you in saving the planet and fighting climate change. Ain’t that swell? If you don’t know where to purchase organic foods in Singapore, we’ve got you covered. You’re welcome!
4. Create conversations about this topic
It’s not enough just doing your part and getting your family involved in saving the planet. Rope everyone (and anyone) you know in your environmental endeavours too! Talk about the climate crisis with your playgroup parents when you meet them. Share what green activities you’ve been up to with your university mates living across the globe. Sign petitions and share them with everyone in your e-mail contacts. Participate in your constituency’s Meet-the-MP session and grill your parliamentary representative on their efforts and attitudes towards climate change. Corner your neighbour into a chat about food waste while in the elevator (they can’t run away, anyway). The possibilities are endless.
Let’s not forget the whole “like, share, retweet” schtick on social media. Continue doing that, yes yes, but remember to supplement that with actions, too.
5. There’s hope while we’re still breathing
Beth, our editor in Hong Kong, talked about how anxious she felt following the IPCC report. The news is scary, and time is running out, but until the remaining reports get published, we have time to lessen the impacts of climate change. Be realistic, but be optimistic too. There’s a lovely quote from my favourite Disney film which I find very fitting at this moment in time: “A flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” (Can you guess which movie that quote’s from?) So let’s continue to play our part in tackling climate change. We’ve got this!
If you’ve got other suggestions to combat the climate crisis, let us know by sliding in our DMs!