Oct 29, 2009

Trembling in the Tropics

Right now I'm sitting in my office blogging and eating lunch at the same time, and although Singapore is a tropical country, I've got my nice, warm jacket on. Why? Because the central air-conditioning here is just too cold for my comfort. Ironically, here's an article from the Straits Times today. Note the title:
    ST Oct 29, 2009
    S'pore a green building hub
    New council to boost green construction; deal with UN unit to promote best practices
    By Jessica Cheam

    SINGAPORE took two major steps on Wednesday in its drive to position itself
    at the forefront of the increasingly vital field of 'green' construction practices and technologies ....
I'm not here today to discuss whether Singapore is indeed a "green building" hub or not. I just wanted to point out another example of poor sub-editing by our mainstream media.

Once again, there's a big mismatch between the title of the article, and its actual content. The actual content makes no claim whatsoever that Singapore is a "green building hub". Instead it says that (1) a new council has been set up to promote sustainable construction, (2) the BCA has signed some document to promote good building practices, and (3) Singapore has the ambition to be the "green building hub" of the tropics.

Now, having the ambition to be something is quite different from actually being it. This should be a rather obvious point, but I guess it eluded the ST sub-editors.

The rest of the article is below. Now, please excuse me while I go and shiver .... Brrrrr.
    A Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) has been set up to promote sustainable construction. This includes driving efforts to green at least 80 per cent of buildings here by 2030.

    And the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme to collaborate on promoting best building practices across Asia.

    The move fits in with the Government's aim to set up a Centre of Excellence in sustainable building and construction in the future to cement Singapore's ambition to be the green building hub of the tropics. Details will be released later, said the BCA.

    Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean announced the new council at the opening ceremony of the inaugural three-day International Green Building Conference held at Suntec convention centre on Wednesday.

    Mr Teo noted that even as the world tackles the global economic downturn, 'we are faced with a policy imperative... that of ensuring sustainable development for our current generation, so that our future generations will have a future'.


Anonymous said...

I think "S'pore to strive for green building hub" is more appropriate.

Anyway I have no journalistic training but an engineer by training.

I have a feeling that standards have dropped in recent years. Previously headlines used to be more accurate.

ACS said...

The editing aside, its the in-thing now so it is politically correct for Singapore to be seen to be so...

I remembered MM saying in an interview that the Japs wanted to nail us because of our per capita carbon footprint is high as a result of our oil refinery...


I personally doubt this green tech thing is going to have any impact until something revolutionary is discovered to replace oil and gas...which takes millions of years to produce.

What else would be a better alternative? I believe it would be nuclear energy but that would also be politically incorrect.

jamesneo said...

I feel that spore is too slow in our supposed strive to be green building hub. Many countries in the west and even in some cities in china and japan have aggressively started their green initiatives.Solar and wind energies technologies have become almost competitive with oil, gas and coal. If we are to be a green hub, we must start now to transform our buildings that can incorporate the solar modules into the buildings or ensure that the newer buildings used such technologies. The government can take the lead by transforming all the public sector buildings. I feel sad that the first fully green building was done by a temple which showed that the abbots have much greater visions than our millions dollar ministers.

ACS said...

Hi JamesNeo,

Its a good point you made. However, do you know how economically viable is transform the buildings?

You also need to write off on the balance sheet your current assets....Billions of dollars of assets and then put in billions of dollars of new assets....

How about all the contracts and forwards we have on oil and gas? What should we do with them?

Is this prudent or should it be step by step and observe what would work better and then adjust...

Most importantly, would you love them more and vote for them again if they do?

For the temples, perhaps we could start by not lighting incense and candles? Is this socially and culturally acceptable?

For ourselves, are we prepared to less frequent with the renewing of handphones and electronic gadgets?

Then, how could the economy grow?

Things are never as simple as it seemed...

The said...

Three possibilities
1) Headline mangled by editor
2) Trying to keep the headline short and catchy
3) Shameless spin and making Singapore to be the number one this and that, or this hub and that hub.

Anonymous said...

just an observation: the headlines on the free "breaking news" website tend to be more inaccurate/dumber than the ones that appear in print or on the paid website.

it's likely that the articles on the free website are not actually sub-edited, but are just given headlines by some i.t guy. a bad situation, but reflects how little s.t. cares about online readership - at least the portion that does not pay

Anonymous said...

my suggestion is not to read too much locally generated content as it is brain damaging, not just heart wrenching and lacking in substance (most of it anyway).

"Respect is what others show you. Shame is what you do not want to have."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Aside from the editing. It is a good step in the right direction. Mr Wang, have you spoken to the building management. I did for mine and they gave some reasons like because some equipments must be kept cool. Anyway they assured me they are looking for solutions to cool certain rooms with equipments instead of the whole building.

On another note, I chance upon a report and hope you can write something about it or promote discussion.

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs, and chickens?

The environmental impact of the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food has been vastly underestimated, and in fact accounts for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs), according to Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of "Livestock and Climate Change".http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

ACS said...

I think it is also important to understand what really cause climate change.

We have been 'educated' by the media that our behaviours caused global warming.... what about Mars? If global warming is occuring, why do we still have snow?

I have come across documentary on NatGeo and other scientific articles that suggests that earth has a natural temperature fluctuation due to solar cycles. Remember we had the ice age?

Here are 3 sources of information I would like to share:-




Anonymous said...

A lot of hubs.

Another hub thingy here.

Do we really have the inner characters & mental will to make it happen & make it a truly authentic one or just make it look good on the surface with the loud bells and whistles.

Talking about going green, just look at the roads & the number of cars we have added to the country which are close to residential units.

Anonymous said...

ACS > From your posts, I sense skepticism about climate change and mankind's impact on our planet. You know what it sounds like? Excuses from a person who just does not want to change his/her pattern of behaviour to something less environmentally damaging.

Let us assume, for a moment, that global warming is not due, at all, to mankind's behaviour, but the natural fluctuation of earth's temperature. There's still other kinds of pollution, dirt in our oceans and our air, that will make life on this planet unpleasant. And what if global warming (and all its attendant environmental impact) -is- due to mankind's behaviour? It's a risk increasing numbers of people are unwilling to take, hence the so-called green movement.

But you, your concern is "the economy", and what is "economically viable". But then, that's how it works in Singapore, isn't it? Economy above all else, including a habitable planet.

By the way, the links you posted, in particular the domain http://www.ourcivilisation.com? It's a site maintained by Mr Philip Atkinson, who apparently writes things like these:

"Bush should have followed the model of Julius Caesar in Iraq, slaughtering all Iraqis who did not comply with his demands. He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court."


Mm. Are you sure that's the sort of guy you want to be listening to?

ACS said...

Hi Anonymous,

Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough. That is what I am advocating...

I am just saying that we should not listen only to one side only.

However, to be completely radical may not be the answer.

My apologies. I admit that Philip Atkinson is probably a poor example, especially about his radical view on Iraq.

However, this could still not prove whether he is credible on global warming or not. Both are very different althogether. He may or may not be credible. However, you are writing him off completely because of the point he made about Iraq.

Anyways, for those who really want to put a root cause to pollution and global warming, there are evidence to believe that it is because of growing population... suggesting that if we really care about the environment, stop producing less of the next generation..



Anonymous said...

ACS > Re: Philip Atkinson, no, I am not writing him off because of the point he made about Iraq. I'm writing him off because he appears to be a classic example of a member of the slightly unhinged far-right group that (from my frog-in-the-well view of American politics) seems to be running amok in America, and one of their traits is faith-based, categorical denial of the existence of global warming. This does not sound in the least bit reliable to me.

And I applaud you for saying we should produce less of the next generation! My sentiments exactly. I'm going to completely disagree with the government on this one. The human population really ought to shrink, and our fertility rate being below 2.1 is something that ought to be welcomed rather than panicked about. If I had my way, people would be penalised for having more than 2 children, but I know that's radical and entirely unlikely to ever happen, except in my fantasies.

ACS said...

Hi Anonymous,

I really like and appreciate someone like you when you leave a comment...You helped to push the 'thinking'... by doing your homework and checking the facts.

Hope to see more of your comments...