Saturday, October 31, 2009


On Dec. 12 2009, world leaders gather to discuss a global plan to combat change that will replace the current Kyoto Protocol. To most environmentalists, this is our last chance to come up with a concrete plan and to actually work on it, as continuing current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rates will lead to a point of no return, such as the melting of permafrost in the Poles.

Sadly, the chance that the Copenhagen deliberations will fail is all too high. After all, the U.S., still does not have climate-change legislation and developing countries rely on rich nations to help them slash emissions. Powerful interest groups who will be harmed by a deal to cut carbon emissions, like oil workers and agribusinesses (who worry the abandonment of not-so-green corn ethanol), relentlessly campaign to block government action and influence the negotiations at Copenhagen.

There are a number of possible outcomes of Copenhagen. The worst case scenario is that the talks might derail completely, with leaders storming out in a huff, and effectively dooming our planet.

Then, there's the other extreme. We might actually come up with a comprehensive plan that really combats global warming, with all the necessary changes- electric cars, wind power, green technology transfers, etc. with a punishment of crippling sanctions to noncompliant signatories. The challenges then would come from failure to implement these changes due, perhaps to corruption and mismanagement.

Realistically, however, what might result from the negotiations is a treaty that occupies the middle ground, with just enough emissions cuts to appease greens, yet with numerous concessions, conditions and enough fine print to take the edge off the cuts. Such a deal won't be enough to combat global warming effectively. At best, this kind of treaty would buy us some time, delaying points of no return enough for us to revisit the issue again to come up with a better treaty. Given world leaders' track record on global warming, this is the most likely outcome of Copenhagen.

We can push our leaders to a better deal this December. Sign the petition at left. Then spread the word to turn up the voice for change. Two minutes is all you need. Earth needs you. Don't let it down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


If we don't care for the environment now, our great-grandchildren could start using dictionaries with entries like these. The dictionary is fully digitized, but only because trees no longer exist.

A clean bill of health (noun): The world record of being fully healthy without any diseases at all. Once commonplace before 2050, there has only been one such person since 2052.

Air (noun): The mixture of gasses, mainly nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, that constitute the atmosphere, and are harmful to living things. Oxygen, once abundant, in air is now carried in special tanks (see 'gas tank')

Air corridor (noun): Special, cleared routes for aircraft to fly in, which, unlike the air surrounding them, is clear of smog (see 'smog')

Air plants (noun): A primitive method of growing plants in the air, discontinued since 2050, when the air ended up killing plants grown in this method. (see 'air pollution')

Air pollution index (noun): A numerical scale used for measuring how polluted the air is. In 2050, the maximum point of this scale has been increased numerous times, from 300, to 500, to 750, etc. As of 1st Jan 2120, it currently stands at 2050. (see 'air pollution')

For now, these entries are unthinkable, but they could become reality if we persist with huge petrol guzzling SUVs, needless air conditioning, and if we refuse to recycle. Start a change. Save the world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


March 8, 2008 might have been a momentous day for Malaysian politics due to the political tsunami that gave the Opposition a much greater voice. I, for one, hoped for a dawn of greater maturity in the political sphere, but in the year and a half since that day, it's clear that despite the gains, there has been no great change, just more of the same.

For starters, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition does not have any solid political ideology, its' sole aim being to defeat the governing Barisan Nasional coalition. In no other circumstances, except sheer, power- hungry desperation would a secular party focusing mainly on economic interests team up with staunch Islamists who perceive development as the product of infidels. For a while, this conflict of interests was tempered by the work of Anwar Ibrahim, but with an impending sodomy trial and having apparently vanished off the headlines, infighting over issues like sharia law could seal the coalition's doom.

It is the aforementioned power-hungry desperation that leads to other, more pressing problems like party-hopping. Even assuming that the BN does not lure away PR politicians with money or power, the defections as a result of PR's shoddy coalition makes perfect sense. It would be the desire to overthrow BN that leads politicians to join PR, exacerbated by Mr. Ibrahim's grand promise that PR would take over on Sept. 16, 2008. Frustrated at PR's slow progress, and lacking a clear, collective political ideology to hold on to, politicians would thus feel no qualms about switching to the governing coalition.

It doesn't help that Pakatan's stand on issues is unclear, at best. At worst, keeping the coalition together has prevented them from coming out with concrete policy plans, apart from chants of "Abolosh ISA" or "Makkal Sakthi (People's Power)". The reformist premership of Najib Tun Razak, however, has blunted the former sharpness of these criticisms, and made their lack of policy plans ever more glaring. If indeed PR wants to become a viable government in future, it needs to have sound economic, social, political and environmental policies. Since Malaysians are largely bread-and-butter voters, the key to power is to communicate these issues to the masses, making them understand how these affect their lives.

One problem with PR which could be turned into an opportunity is foreign policy. Ever since its' creation, PR has offerred little or no comment on international incidents, with most of its' politicians, except Mr. Ibrahim, lacking experience on a global stage. BN's current foreign policy tasks, though, haven't been great shakes either, certainly compared to their zenith under Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysia's 4th Prime Minister- think Bosnia-Herzegovina and the 'Look East Policy'. PR could win points by cleaning up its' act enough to start slamming BN for its' repeated clashes with both Indonesia and Singapore, especially over popular street food and cultural elements.

In conclusion, PR needs to do a lot of work and soul-searching if it really wants to change Malaysia. Does it really want power so badly that it's willing to throw common sense out the window? Disbanding the coalition might cede victories to BN in the short term, but done right, it'll merely be the calm before the storm. And heaven knows the BN surely will face a storm one day.