As I approach my 70th birthday I find a need to consolidate my energy and spend time on those matters that present as the more serious and immediate. One of these matters is the health of our atmosphere and the allied issues of climate change and global warming caused by humanity’s over dependence on fossil fuels as sources of energy.
Many industrial societies have been lazy, content to ignore the serious legacy of external costs, seeking quick profits through a dependency on apparently cheap fossil fuels like coal and oil. Neoliberal economics, with its magical trust in the market as the ultimate determinant of rationality and balance in the world, has gravely worsened matters.
Life in Singapore
Several years ago when I came to live in Singapore it was with some uncertainty. This busy entrepôt with global connections seemed like a model of the market driven approach but this proved to be untrue. Governance takes an appropriate role and although this small island is by no means perfect, there is great concern for the environmental impact of change and development.
Singapore has no extensive natural resources but it has a well-connected society made easier by excellent public transport and communications. With an average population density of 8500 people per sq. kilometre this is a much cheaper goal to achieve than in my own less densely settled city of Sydney with around 400 people per sq. kilometre.
Singapore also has a locational advantage at a pivotal point between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, at the head of the Malacca Straits. Alongside this is its highly educated population.
Haze and the El Niño year of 2015
Life in Singapore proved very comfortable, until 2015. That year, an El Niño year, the city was enveloped in smoke haze.
A began blogging about this problem, first in September of that year as the haze grew in intensity then again in October. Around about this time I left for Bali which was well clear of the smoke haze.
Not long after this a colleague from the ANZA Writers group that I convene mentioned a group called the ‘Mother Earth Toast Masters Club”. I went along to a meeting and it was there I met Tan Yi Han of the Peoples’ Movement to Stop Haze.
Since then I’ve become involved with the group. I’m probably the oldest member the group has ever had, but I find nothing but acceptance and a willingness to use what little life experience that I’ve accumulated over the past 70 years.
This month they featured my picture of me and ran a short interview with me under the banner Volunteer Spotlight: Russell. I hope you enjoy the read.