How much of the economy should we sacrifice for the sake of our environment has been a much debated issue for decades now. Governments from all over the world, gather year after year during climate change conferences to discuss the issue of how much of their economy should be sacrificed for a sustainable environment. Yet, not once have they realistically thought about how much of the environment have we been sacrificing for the economy?
You may laugh at the thought, but do you know, that the climate change you experience today is a result of the doings of the past generation? Climate studies focus on a classical period of 30 years, which could mean that what we are experiencing today, is likely a result of a build-up of “sins” of the past 30 years. Yes, go ahead and blame your parents or the you 30 years ago, but bear this in mind, your children and yourself of the future will be casting the same blame on you if you do not take any action now.
In the movie 2012, we saw a world, indifferent towards everything else but preserving the future of mankind – must we wait for such a day before we reconsider our actions? In the movie, our chaotic world calmed after 2 months of violent weather, and all refugees were returned to land where they find a new world awaiting them. Will we be able to do the same if we turn our world upside down?
Our government is constantly going on about how much it did for our environment, but quizzed further about the exact positive impact it has created, how much it has spent to positively combat climate change, it remains mum, and points to the economic sustainability we have to maintain. What is the use of having so much money in reserves, if we are never going to spend it? Are the figures in the bank better to look at or a better environment we can live comfortably in, more important?
Our obsession with instantaneous wealth has led us to ignore the fact that failing to be green, eventually erodes our wealth. The extra load brought about by the myopic decisions to keep policies less stringent and leave environmental initiatives to the private sector will only amass greater costs in the future. Our hunger to maintain easy economic growth through fancy buildings, cars, and even people i.e. population surge, will only hamper the healthy growth of our people. What makes us economically comfortable does not necessarily make us environmentally so and we eventually have to spend more to maintain that lifestyle.
Recently at an environmental awards ceremony, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Vivian Balakrishnan mentioned that young people are more aware about the environment, and are more active proclaiming their causes for the Earth. Yet, in a study done before the General Election, statistics show that the environment ranks among the least important concern of young voting Singaporeans. The same opinion echoes through the audience at a recent forum I attended where grassroots leaders vote for the top concern they want the mayor to address.
Perhaps, there really is an increase of awareness for the environment, but the focus has always been too small to begin with, there just isn’t any impact. Obviously, the pace of our move towards a greener lifestyle has not been able to match that of nature. Because combating climate change requires more than just plain gimmicky marketing and awards, we are doomed for good if we choose to be obstinate about dollars and cents over common sense.
Photo by Andrew*’s on Flickr