Tag Archives: Singapore

Vernal Thoughts

Four quick thoughts on events that come around this time of year…

1. Solar zenith in Singapore and what the Equinox is all about

At 1:11 PM Singapore time, the sun passed directly overhead here in Singapore. Vertical structures cast no shadows.  We are a couple of days behind the Equinox, because we are about 1.3° North of the equator.  (For those of you who don’t grok what the Equinox is, it’s one of the two days of the year when the sun is directly overhead when viewed from the Earth’s equator.)

Equinox Day arc at 0° latitude (Equator) The arc passes through the zenith, resulting in almost no shadows at high noon. (from Wikimedia)

2. Earth Hour – how useful is it?

I’m all in favor of events that make people think seriously about sustainability. Earth Hour is meant to help people think about energy conservation, by asking people to turn off their lights for an hour (Earth Hour: 28 March 2015 at 8:30-9:30pm local time, wherever you are).  As this hour of “lights off” passes around the globe, we will no doubt save a lot of energy.  This is one of the bigger environmental events in Singapore, and lots of usually excessive lighting in/on skyscrapers goes dark for the hour. Perhaps, around the world, people will get to see more stars with darker skies, and remember that not everything needs constant illumination, and you can have a lot of fun in the dark.  I hope that’s how people take it.

However, I worry that people will continue to associate conservation with deprivation.  I’m all in favor of doing less with less when appropriate, but we can also do a lot more with less harm as well.  This event (and other “turn it off” events), perhaps fail to highlight that sufficiently, by putting the focus on sacrifice instead of innovation.

3. Ape-ril is almost upon us

Ape-ril is a great excuse for a silly fundraising campaign by my friends at Sumatran Orangutan Society.  Get in touch with the 96.4% of your genome that is indistinguishable from orangutans.  Gents, prepare to grow that facial hair!

Beards are beautiful (especially when orange)!

 4. Earth Day is April 22nd

Earth Day has been happening every year on April 22nd since a couple months after I was born. I believe this makes me one of the key organizers, somehow. Well, I was involved in planning local events in California for 9 or 10 of those years, starting in 1987 or 88 at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord, CA.

Earth Day has become a fairly international thing, but I haven’t been involved this year or in 2014, as it doesn’t seem to be celebrated here in Singapore.  I’m hoping all my friends back at Cabrillo Green Steps are getting party plans in place – I’ll be thinking about you.

Enjoy Spring!

Link

Singapore’s outsized footprint

Singapore is putting some efforts into improving sustainability, but that doesn’t mean we’re outpacing the problem.

From Channel News Asia:

Singapore was found to have the seventh-largest ecological footprint [per capita]– a measure of the population’s demands on natural resources – out of more than 150 countries.

MtFaberStandard view - Photo by Erik S. Peterson

Read more: Lion City’s green ranking worsens

And then there was the transboundary haze at the beginning of the week:

Haze rating Monday night – mostly from fires on Sumatra.

So while there are glimmers of hope in the smog, it’s not all sunshine and roses here on the little island of Singapore.  There’s plenty of work left to do!

Link

Palm Oil Updates from UCS

Union of Concerned Scientists is starting a new campaign to get McDonald’s to “make a firm commitment to use only deforestation-free palm oil.”

“Tell McDonald’s to go deforestation-free!” Act Now »

For more information on the fast food sector and palm oil, read [UCS’s] latest blog on the issue, Palm Oil, Deforestation, and the Fast Food Industry: Would You Like a Side of Forests with That? and our new report, Donuts, Deodorant, Deforestation: Scoring America’s Top Brands on Their Palm Oil Commitments.

What I’m up to now…

In case you’ve been wondering, I’m now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.  My beloved has been tracking our weekend trips on Tumblr.

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Me at Singapore Botanical Gardens. Photo by Erik S. Peterson. See more at colorjedi.tumblr.com

My first big project is to prepare for this workshop:

This workshop is meeting Thursday 27 February – Friday 28 February 2014 at the Nanyang Executive Center (NEC) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.  It is open only to invited speakers and guests, plus NTU students and staff who register by 24 February.

The objectives of this workshop are: 1) to explore the practice and pedagogical themes applied to sustainability education in Asian countries; 2) to review how sustainability is conceptualized and studied in different disciplines such as Science, Social Sciences, Economics, Engineering, Business, etc.  This workshop is funded by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), to be held in conjunction with and mark the 10th anniversary of the School of HSS at NTU.

Professor Sing C. Chew  (Humboldt State University, California, USA and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany) will deliver the keynote address on “Sustainability in Education.”  Other presenters hail from 17 different countries.

So amazing… so much to say… and so busy I gotta get back to it.  More ponderings in a couple weeks, I promise hope.