Every Saturday, waste arrives at my doorstep in the form of the Straits Times. And yesterday was particularly ‘tragic’. Right in the front page was this huge headline, Effects of Global Warming ‘unstoppable’. But what was more disturbing was the proud announcement that yesterday’s edition comprised a whopping 274 pages in 9 parts.
I don’t know about other Singaporeans. For me, the 4 sections on Classified Ads and Recruitment usually go straight to our ‘garang guni’ (collector of old newspapers) pile. That’s a staggering 146 pages which weighed - I don’t know … half a kg perhaps. Each time this happens I would wonder how many trees have to chopped down simply so that I can sell more old newspapers to the garang guni man. With a daily circulation of 400,000 (source: Wikipedia), I suppose that would translate to quite a few tons of paper.
And that’s only for Saturdays. For the rest of the week, there is also the Chinese paper 我报 as well as that useless supplement Urban on Thursdays.
Lest my friend Victor starts to complain (he’s in complaining mood lately) that my posts are more and more about present day issues rather than nostalgia, I must quickly mention that this issue of global warming and environmental pollution raised in the Straits Times is something I have read about 40 years ago.
The year was either 1967 or 1968. I cannot recall if The Price of Progress was the title of an essay that our English teacher asked us to write or if it was the title of a book I happened to read. But I can clearly remember some of the contents of that book.
Among other things, the authorwarned of the dire consequences of mankind’s unbridled exploitation of the natural resources and the callous destruction of the environment. Global warming was definitely one of the topics covered in this book. I also remember reading for the first time about a phenomenon known as Temperature Inversion which the author predicted could kill thousands if it occurred in a large city like New Delhi or San Francisco.
Unfortunately, I don’t think many influential people took note of theis book and things have not improved during these past four decades. Let’s hope that, with all the awareness brought about by the report put up by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), things will be different in the next 4 decades. Otherwise it would be a real tragedy for future generations.
** As usual I am deliberately being misleading here. The ‘waste’ that Herman Wouk wrote about is of a totally different type of course.