Some thoughts on 2012 and 2013 even though it’s past the transition! It’s been a long time since I last posted; I just don’t seem to have the inspiration or musings to write about. Perhaps because I usually write about conservation issues relating to governance, education and the like, and I’m rather unfamiliar with the UK environment; perhaps it’s just that I go out a lot less because of school/school work.
2012 had been a wonderful year for me; the collective experiences of the remainder of my gap year have been most enriching and inspiring. I have learnt much and realised there’s lots more to learn.
2012 had also been a rather interesting year for conservation and Nature in Singapore. Nature and environmental issues have featured quite a bit in headline news – from the RWS dolphins and ACRES’ fight to release them back into the wild, to Bidadari, Bukit Brown and the Pasir Ris Woodland being lost to development, to the discovery of new species in our waters. I don’t know if it’s only because I’m more involved and more aware of the issues, and because my friends on social media highlight the articles that we’re more interested in, that they seem to have become more prominent in mainstream media, but environmental issues taking a greater role on stage is in some way, a good thing (even if it’s bad news). Hopefully it would mean more people are more interested in such “non-tangible, fluffy” stuff, outside of the usual economics and financial stuff. That Singaporeans are slowly realising the importance of such issues and no longer fitting into the stereotype that Singaporeans are all pragmatic, (economic) success-driven and unfeeling people who only care about wealth status and being better than others.
I see hope for Nature issues in Singapore, even as our city becomes increasingly built up, because people are more willing to speak up for what matters to them, and are more willing to engage on such issues (though I don’t know if I can say the same for the government). And hopefully, the younger generations will be more eco-literate and environmentally conscious, so that there can only be positive change in the future.
2012 has not been a great year for biodiversity worldwide though. Hundreds of rhinos killed by poachers, and the same goes for elephants. Sharks, and manta rays too. Not to mention countless others that were lost due to habitat destruction. Yet at the same time, plenty of new species were discovered, and you can see a smattering here, here and here. While we’ve undoubtedly been losing huge swathes of forests and marine areas to development, there’s also been more areas declared as protected by governments, such as in Australia and Peru.
Perhaps most disappointingly was the failure of Rio+20 talks in June to deliver anything concrete.
As much as I (and many people out there, I’m sure) hate politics, it is a pretty prominent feature in just about everything that matters in life. I just hope that the world governments, NGOs, countries, cities, and people everywhere care a little more this year for this Earth that we all live on, no matter what God you believe in, no matter what language you speak, no matter whether you think a capitalist economy is the best and only way of life or that perhaps just living within your means and buying only what you need and attaining true happiness is the right way of life. And this Earth is slowly but surely becoming increasingly unlivable – not for the world’s biodiversity you know, but for us humans. I hope that biodiversity and the environment matter more to people, and people will speak up more for the things that cannot speak for themselves.
There was a period of time when I was questioning myself. Why do I care so much that we’re losing biodiversity everyday, when I know that the Earth will survive whatever we may unleash upon it and life will evolve to adapt and still thrive? Wanting to keep the world from changing (faster than normal), to keep the environment as we’ve always known it, is more anthropocentric than altruistic, cos that way, we humans can survive too. Why do I care for the future of humans then, since humans are the ones who are causing most of the damage? I guess I would want our children and our children’s children to still have a decent world to live in, and perhaps if anything, I don’t want trouble on my watch. And ultimately, I think the world is just awesome – if it’s getting destroyed and I’m not doing anything about it, then what am I here on Earth for??
So, for 2013: I pray that it be a year filled with good news, not just for Nature and the environment, but for humanity in general. That more people may come to realise that life is short, and we should try to live a purposeful and happy life; and that meaning has to be self-derived (you decide what gives your life a purpose) and that happiness is relatively inexpensive. And along with all that, spending more time in Nature is good for you and so you should try to make sure that not all sea is converted into land and that not all land is converted into shopping malls (or monocultures).
That’s too depressing a picture to end on.
This is better (: (Meant to be a joke, I am not anti-humans)
Have a great 2013!