Monday, 23 July 2012

For today's (23/7/2012) lesson,

1. Read this news article about an accident involving an SIA plane in Taiwan.
2. Write out 5 main points from the article on why you think the accident occurred and in your opinion, whether the pilots were at fault. Remember to provide EVIDENCE.
3. Your points should be added as comments to this post. If I do not see your comments added by the end of the lesson, expect to receive a YELLOW form tomorrow.

Once you are done with this, you can study for tomorrow's paper.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Monsters & Heros – Lucas & Rayner

The most important point in our presentation is that the line between good and evil is subjective, which means that it can be perceived differently depending on the individual.
The line that distinguishes between good and evil is permeable, which means that good people can become evil and vice versa.  However, where the line lies to an individual is up to his or her perception in combination with a host of factors that might affect the perception.  Such factors include, the upbringing of the individual, the opinions of others close to the individual and the consequences of giving a perception that is not widely accepted by others,(meaning is not clear) just to name a few.

The use the 9/11 attacks as an example, if we were to go to the streets of New York and ask any American on the streets what their opinion is regarding the attack, they will most likely reply with an answer along the lines of the attack being one of evilest ? events in America’s history as many innocent lives were lost.  However, that is just one side of the coin.  If we were to go to the Middle East and ask anyone the Americans would label as “terrorists”, they will most likely reply that the attacks were good as they proved that the Westerners that have “invaded” their country can be struck back against.  Therefore, good and evil is a matter of one’s perception.

Therefore, the line between good and evil is permeable and whether something is on the good or evil side of the line it depends on the view of the individual themselves.

Celine and Gwendolyn Chee [Master Storytellers]

The most important point of the presentation is the views of ethnocide and genocide. Genocide, the murder of a large group of human beings, is universally condemned while ethnocide, the destruction of entire cultures, is welcomed and celebrated as a development strategy (What is meant by this? Why is it celebrated and welcomed? And by whom?). There have been many examples of genocide, two of the most well-known being the Japanese's slaughter of the Chinese during World War Two and the later use of the atomic bombs on Japan. An example of ethnocide is the in-progress extinction of Tibetan culture (Briefly explain how this is done). Culture is what defines us, and destroying culture is, in essence, destroying ourselves. Thus, we need to revise our view of ethnocide and realize that it too needs to be condemned before we lose our sense of self.

5 ways to listen better

In the talk, Mr. Treasure introduces 5 ways to listen better: filter, R.A.S.A(Receive, Appreciate, Summarize Ask Questions), silence, mix and savor. All five are important in order to improve conscious listening. However, the one that is most emphasized is R.A.S.A. The word 'rasa' is a Sanskrit word which means the essence or taste of something. R.A.S.A., in this case, is an abbreviation of 4 words: Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, Ask [questions]. The first word is receive; when listening, we are receiving information through sound from another source. The second word is appreciate, whereby we have to acknowledge the information being received my small movements, like nodding and making eye contact. The third word is summarize, in which we are encouraged to make a brief summary on what information we have just received, so as to avoid misunderstandings. Lastly, the fourth word is ask questions, so we can further clarify on information we have just received.

5 Ways to Listen Better - Fatin and Norul

Jun Wei and Zhi Yong(4 environmental heresies)

One of the four environmental heresies mentioned in the video is about how cities are more green than people living in villages. This is evident through the practices of the people. In the cities, people can cook their food through microwaves, or induction cookers which are environmentally friendly as they do not release harmful gases. However, people in the village can only get energy to cook their food through heat energy. They burn wood for fire, and also burn down forest to clear land. Harmful gases are released into the environment. Births rates in the village are very high, whereas the birth rates in the cities are lower. In villages, the parents use children as their workers, thus the more children they have, the more money they can earn. However, children are regarded as a chore in cities, as parents have to take time to raise them up and spend money on them. Thus, it can be argued that cities are greener than what most people think. Making the idea that cities are "unclean" an environmental heresy.

Paradox of Choice - Jia Le & Jun Hong

Instructions for 3/7/2012

Hi class,

Today instructions:
1 Upload your TED presentation slides onto this EL Blog.
2 Pick the most important point from your presentation and write a PEEL paragraph on it. Do this as a team. It should also be on this blog. (Should NOT be less than 80 words)

3. Once you have finished, write a comment on another team's blog. Comment NOT on their presentation but the Topic, eg, what is interesting about the topic or any other comment you have about the topic. You can use Paul's Wheel of Reasoning.

Please take this seriously and take this as an opportunity writing practice.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Instructions for 18/05/2012

1. Complete your slide on the Telephone Conversation. Look at the poem in depth.
2. For those groups that use comments, pls transfer the comment onto the slide itself using arrows and text box.
3. Look for pictures to facilitate the understanding of the poem. (Lucas, pls upload the slides onto the EL blog at the end of the lesson).
4. Use the last 10 mins of the lesson to type out your reflection of the poem you have annotated on the EL blog.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Unfortunately despite reminders to share the e-learning PEEL work with me, I have not received from the following:
1. Catherine
2. Celine
3. Gwendolyn
4. Jun Wei
5. Jia Le (Thank you)
6. Jake
7. Zhi Yong (Thank you)
8. Johanan
9. Tim

I would assume that you have done the work but have not shared it with me.  Would greatly appreciate it if you all could share the document with me asap (latest by Thursday, 3 May) for marking. Thank you.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Timeline: 70 Years of Environmental Change

Article Link:

The article is basically a timeline, showing the various changes about the environment over the past 70 years. It shows the things that have been done to protect the environment and the crises that we have gone through so far. I feel that this tracking of history is good as we would be able to know what we've done right and wrong and learn from our mistakes, as well as continue what was rightly done. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Outrage grows over air pollution and China's response

Link of article:

Paul's Wheels Of Reasoning

Points of view: 3rd person point of view, citizens of Beijing.

Purpose: To express their anger and disappointment about the officials not making efforts to level with them about air quality or make any improvements to the environment.

Question at Issue: The government are not making great efforts to ensure the safety of the population.


  1. “As a Chinese citizen, we have been kept in the dark on this issue for too long,”
  2. “The government is just so bureaucratic that they don’t seem to care whether we common people live or die. And it’s up to us, the common people, to prod them and to put pressure on them so that they can reflect on their actions and realize that they really just have to do something.”
  3. That was the case in 2008 when parents vented anger over deadly school collapses in the Sichuan earthquake and over adulterated milk.
  4. An announcement at the airport made no mention of pollution, attributing the cancellations and delays to “the weather condition.”

Implications & consequences: If the government did not inform the citizens about the air quality, this might affect the citizens’ health. There will be a disease outbreak and this will affect the country’s economy as more people will not be able to work and could not go out due to bad quality of air.

My opinions:

I think this article is useful in raising awareness to the government about the citizen’s feelings towards the action that is carried out by the government. The citizen felt that the government fail to update them about the air quality which can allow them to plan things ahead and also made improvements to the environment. One issue raised was the air pollution coming out from the non stop churning of factories and automobile engines around Beijing which causes smog in the air. Now, the citizens are relying on United States Embassy that gives hourly update on air quality. This might be bad for the government as the citizens will not trust them and follow the laws implemented anymore. Therefore, I think the government should think of solutions on how to solve this matters before the life expectancy of Beijing will decrease because of this air pollution.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Western Black Rhino declared extinct

Link of article:

The main issue of the article is to address the situation that more animals on the endangered list are approaching extinction and this is a troubling problem which could lead to many more.

I believe the purpose of this article is to increase awareness among poachers and hunters to not treat animals as game and continue shooting them down or taking their defence mechanism leaving them helpless in the wild, for example, a rhino's horn.

To reinforce his point, he writes other examples such as the reptiles of Madagascar, Przewalski's horse as well as the northern white rhino. These animals are also at the brink of extinction or already extinct.

I believe the writer is writing in the point of view of a conversationalist and representing "tree-hugging" nature lovers who care for the environment.

The possible consequences of the extinction of certain species in the wild could lead to a disruption in the food chain in that environment, which might affect many other species of animals, worst case scenario being all the species in that area being wiped out.

My personal take on this issue is that animals lives are also lives and they should be treated with respect. In view of this, which is more important, money or the continuation of a species? Treating animals like a dart board is simply heartless and shows the cruelty men has brought to this earth along many other harms brought about. We should continue to help breed these animals as it is unfair to future generations that we can see this beautiful creatures, but yet our future generations will only view them in museums or books. I admire these enviromentalist and conversationalist as their desire to save these animals and conserve them is indeed remarkable. I strongly feel that all countries should impose bans on poaching or hunting of any endangered species, as it threatens the food chain in that habitat, which could cause a "butterfly effect" causing harm to many other animals.

8 Mighty Rivers Run Dry From Overuse

Article link: 8 Mighty Rivers Run Dry From Overuse


Over the years, man has taken advantage of numerous natural resources the world, and more often than not we take more than what can be replenished in the same amount of time. Our greediness has taken its toll on the environment, and in this case, the rivers of the world. Excessive usage and abuse of the waters as well as the banks of some of the largest rivers in the world are causing them to run dry. Blaming it on inevitability of industrialization and urbanization, man turns his back onto the dire consequences of his actions.

However, this article is a wake up call, telling us that we cannot ignore this problem any longer. The depleting supply of water and other resources from these rivers will affect us all. Riots and wars can occur when there is a shortage of food and water because people can become desperate when they are on the brink of starvation, and this could cause deaths. By not taking into account the consequences of stripping away all the resources that is available to us, we are endangering not only the environment, but ourselves as well.
Link to Media Article on Shark Finning:

Sharks - which include ones that are almost extinct are being hunted and killed for their fin which is a food tradition that is centered in Asia. Singapore is the second largest shark finning and I believe that we can reduce the sale and production of shark fins world wide.

I think that we should stop being so traditional, there are many other delicacies that can be eaten as an alternative to shark fin's soup. Also, when the sharks are being killed, it would be a 'butterfly effect' to the ecosystem in the ocean. There is enough evidence that shark finning should be stopped.

1986: Soviets admit nuclear accident

1986: Soviets admit nuclear accident

The Soviet Union has acknowledged there has been an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The report, from the official news agency, Tass, said there had been casualties but gave no details of numbers. It said aid was being sent to the injured.

The report said that one of the reactors had been damaged in the accident, but gave no further details beyond saying that measures were being taken to "eliminate the consequences of the accident". It also claimed the accident was the first at a Soviet power station.

The report was the first confirmation of a major nuclear catastrophe since monitoring stations in Sweden, Finland and Norway began reporting sudden high discharges of radioactivity in the atmosphere two days ago.


The accident is believed to be the most serious in the history of nuclear power, worse even than that at the Three-Mile Island power station in the United States in 1979, when there was some release of radioactivity but nobody was injured.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant, just north of Kiev, consists of four nuclear reactors, known as light-water cooled, graphite-moderated reactors - a type hardly used outside the Soviet Union.

Nuclear experts say the levels of radioactivity recorded indicate that the nuclear core of the damaged reactor may have melted down.

Full-scale alert

The number of casualties, both immediately and in the future, from radiation sickness, is expected to be high, although the exact number may never be known. It is not believed, however, that there is any risk to the health of anyone outside the Soviet Union.

The discharge of radioactivity was so great that by the time the fallout reached Sweden, 1,000 miles away, it was still powerful enough to register twice the natural level of radioactivity in the atmosphere.

The sudden jump in radioactivity levels was enough to prompt a full-scale alert in Sweden, which initially believed the accident had happened at its own nuclear power station, on the Baltic coast. The evacuation of 600 workers had been ordered before experts realised that the source of the radioactivity must have been within the Soviet Union.



Even though most people would widely regard the Chernobyl incident as the worst nuclear disaster in history, I would also regard it as one of the worst environmental disasters in history.

There are many debates that have taken place where people argue about the use of the nuclear power as a source of energy. No one can doubt the sheer efficiency of energy produced by nuclear power plants. However, many have raised concerns about the effects and potential effects it nuclear power might bring to the environment. With such an event occurring, the dangers of nuclear power have finally been brought into brighter light.

Till this day, there is an official exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant remains in place, extending for 30 kilometres. It is one of the most radioactive spots on Earth. Flora and fauna in the area was most likely killed or mutated by radiation when the plant’s failsafes failed. Species that could have yet to be discovered could have been killed in the area around Chernobyl, potentially never to be discovered by modern science.

The health effects on humans is also devastating as most people exposed to the high levels of radiation around the nuclear power plant were either killed by radiation poisoning or were left with lingering and haunting health problems. Most survivors had their life expectancy severely shortened due to genetic mutations from exposure to radiation.

Hopefully, us humans would learn from the negative effects of nuclear power, as evident by the Chernobyl and Japan nuclear disasters, and either stray away from it, finding new means of power production to replace it, or improve on the design of nuclear plants and their failsafes in order to make sure that such a environmental disaster never occurs again.

Lucas Chia

More Singaporeans care about climate change


This article is about what Singapore is doing to help with the climate changes. It shows the public that the government is trying to solve or reduce these changes which are affecting many people. The article states that the NCCS is getting suggestions and different point of views of this problem that Singapore is facing. I think that this is a good idea because they would know what kind of different challenges the nation is facing due to these climate changes. Through this face-to-face poll, the NCCS can come up with more solutions to the problem and solve it as quickly as possible.

Khim Tan (08)

Bubble Curtains - Protecting undersea wildlife

Recently scientists have explored ways of blocking off industrial noises using bubble curtains. It has been revealed that industrial noises from the coastlines are deeply affecting behaviour of underwater mammals, such as whales, who use gentle sound pulses to communicate. As humans explore and breach the ocean further, the loud sounds can confuse and harm the underwater mammals. Indeed, the added stress to these delicate animals have been linked to infertility and can cause a dip in the population growth. Offshore oil and wind power companies are testing the benefits of this new technique, currently being proposed to be utilised as a means of reducing noise pollution.  It has not yet been proven effective, but this promising means can go a long way in protection. As more and more energy companies are harvesting the vast resources of the oceans, it has been increasingly alarming of the hazardous effects on marine animals that are generated by the industries. There are evidence to suggest that bubbles can be used to lessen the impact of undersea sound. The bubbles can technically alter the waveforms of the sound waves generated and dampens the resonance, hence causing less discomfort to the animals. I believe that this "bubble curtain" approach may potentially benefit both parties. Expensive it may be as it is still a largely undeveloped procedure, it can help to ensure that the energy companies sustain their industries as well as protecting the wildlife. Certainly, more green technology should be developed, using the simplest materials possible and maximum effectiveness. While bubble curtains are one of the ways to protect and preserve wildlife, there are definitely much more that we can do to play a part. 

Monarch Butterfly Population Restores, But Still in Danger.

Monarch butterfly colonies in Mexico have seemingly bounced back from last year, when bad storms decimated their numbers by 75 percent.

The orange-and-black butterflies, which migrate from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico each year, have more than doubled since last year’s low – but their numbers remain below average, scientists say.

A study sponsored by World Wildlife Federation Mexico along with the Commission on Natural Protected Areas and the cell phone carrier Telcel found that the colonies increased by 109 percent this year to coat about 10 acres of forest.

“These figures are encouraging, compared to last year, because they show a trend toward recovery,” said Omar Vidal, director of the conservation group World Wildlife Federation Mexico, according to The Associated Press.

But the numbers suggest the species remains under threat: this year’s colonies were the fourth-smallest since data collection began in 1993.

“Fluctuations in insect populations are normal in nature,” the study’s sponsors said in a statement. “With regard to the monarch butterfly, these fluctuations could be due mainly to climatic conditions.”

But scientists said that natural fluctuation doesn’t account for huge drops like they’ve been seeing. Illegal deforestation in Mexico’s Michoacan state has played a role, and extreme weather conditions caused by global warming represents a long-term threat. Genetically modified crops and pesticides also hurt the butterflies’ numbers by crowding out milkweed, their food of choice during migration.

“The caterpillars feed on milkweed so changing soil use in the United States and Canada is definitely having an impact on the butterflies,” said Vidal, according to AFP.

I feel that the restoration of the Monarch butterflies is a positive turn to our deteriorating environment. Instead of the many species heading towards endangerment, the Monarch butterfly, instead, is bouncing back up in numbers.

Also, this act of deforestation should be stopped as it affects more than just the monarch butterfly, and stopping the act of deforestation would help in not only the monarch butterfly, but also give many other species a natural habitat to survive in, and trees also produce more oxygen for us. Hopefully, other species facing a decrease in population can also bounce back up in numbers.

Sumatran elephant faces extinction in 30 years: WWF



In Indonesia, the number of critically endangered species are increasing, with the new addition of the Sumatran elephant. This group of species that are critically endangered includes the Sumatran orangutan, the Javan, the Sumatran rhinos and the Sumatran tigers. In my opinion, this shows how poorly the Indonesian government is doing to protect the environment and the habitats of these endangered species, which actually disrupts the whole ecosystem out in the wildlife. Their habitat are constantly used for agricultural plantations or for deforestation, which unknowingly destroyed the important habitat of this Sumatran elephant. If this goes on, these elephants can be extinct in less than 30 years. I feel that the result of such a tragedy is also due to the rapid deforestation by the paper industries or the oil palm plantations. This will also upset the balance of nature and result in a butterfly effect, which ends up causing harm to the humans in the end.

Is Edible Food Packaging The Answer To Plastic Waste?

Is Edible Food Packaging The Answer To Plastic Waste?


The purpose of the article is to inform us of the new possible way to reduce plastic waste by replacing food packaging with WikiCells

WikiCells, the brain child of Harvard professor David Edwards, are “novel edible forms for eating and drinking transportable foods and drinks without plastic.” WikiCells consist of a natural food membrane held together by electrostatic forces and containing a liquid, emulsion, foam, or solid food substance possibly within an edible or biodegradable shell.

Because plastic makes up a bulk of our waste, this innovative idea would cut down on the amount of plastic thrown away by eliminating the most prominent source of plastic: food packaging.

The writer maintained a neutral attitude throughout the article.

The writer assumes that the new food packaging technology would eliminate the need for plastic containers, thereby reducing plastic waste.

The writer represents David Edwards’s point of view.

The concepts in the article is the idea of replacing non-biodegradable plastic with the more environmentally-friendly packaging WikiCells.

The implications of the article is that one major source of plastic waste would be eliminated and thus, reduce pollution.

-Gwendolyn Chee (4)

Comments on "Oil spill creates huge undersea 'dead zones'" By Emily Dugan

History's most devastating oil spill at the Gulf of Mexico is jeopardising the survival of marine life. Due to the density and composition of the crude oil released into the gulf, most of it remains submerged undersea as compared to common oil spills where the oil rises to the surface of the ocean. This has hampered the authorities from clearing the oil effectively. Due to the introduction of harmful and toxic chemicals, many aquatic creatures such as corals, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and shellfish would all face obliteration. With chemicals coating around planktons and tiny shrimps (the basis of life for the marine creatures), larger fish would consume their prey with the chemicals leading to what we call bioaccumulation, which would essentially affect us humans directly. With no ability to control this catastrophe, authorities had to resort to preventing the spread of the oil, instead of removing it. I feel that this would not have happened if ships carrying such dangerous crude oil were better protected. With proper training conduced for the tanker sailors, functional anomaly is not a valid explanation. The authorities should investigate the causes of the disaster and trace back to what went wrong. With that said, the tanker companies whom are in charge of transporting the oil should take full responsibility of this matter. What is lost will never come back, no point fretting over spilled milk. We should quickly resolve the problem and find out the reason behind it to prevent such disasters from happening again.


Air pollution can actually lead to stroke, memory loss,-memory-loss

It is obvious that air pollution would affect the respiratory system but it also turns out that ‘dirty’ air can affect the brain too. Though the article quotes several scientists and studies, it still may not be true as there is no official report from the relevant authorities. However this news would still affect the rest of us as we would be then more conscious about what we are releasing into the air through factories, car exhausts, etc.

This article is beware surveillance (like a warning) for those living near busy highways or in cities and instrumental surveillance (just good to know about) for the others who are not so affected. It taps on the emotional appeal of people for they would worry if their family members or their relatives who live there might later suffer a stroke or have memory loss after prolonged exposure to the ‘dirty’ air.

The problem is for those who are living near said busy highways and crowded cities for they can’t possibly move house and even if they do someone else might move in after they leave anyway. The government could try to reduce the amount of air pollution such as getting companies to use eco-friendly air-conditioning and also to encourage more people to use public transport. Factories could try to cut down on their air pollution by probably installing air filters to filter out the harmful gases.

Ancient Global Dimming Linked to Volcanic Eruption

Link to article :

Is it really true? Can we trust this article? Is there really such a phenomenon known as global dimming? In the article “Ancient Global Dimming Linked to Volcanic Eruption”, it is stated that “A "dry fog" that muted the sun's rays in A.D. 536 and plunged half the world into a famine-inducing chill was triggered by the eruption of a supervolcano, a new study says.”

The research shown in the article says that there are evidences of acidic sulfate in the ice of Greenland. How does it affect us? The release of carbon emissions has been said to be the cause of global warming, but in this article, it is said that global dimming is also influenced by the high level of emissions produced by men. If man continues to pollute the air, both phenomenon will become very susceptible to carbon and it may usher in a new ice age (global dimming) or an age of droughts (global warming).

In order to prevent this, we have to result to more environmentally-friendly ways, 3R(reduce, reuse, recycle). Recently, there are biodegradable plastic bags that may replace the plastic bags that will not decompose, so any litter that is left behind will be naturally disposed of. Right now, scientist are trying to find out ways to reduce the resources that are required, creating new environmentally-friendly products to replace the old unfriendly ones.

The actions of men resulted in these drastic consequences and only the intervention of men can make it right again.

Goh Jun Hong (15)

South East latest part of England officially in drought


I feel that the Environment Agency in England is doing a good job. Although the drought is worst than the infamously dry summer of 1976, they are still making an effort to monitor the impact of the dry weather on fisheries and wildlife. Other than that, a natural disaster also serves as a form of a reminder to people not to take things for granted. In this case, we should not take water for granted. Therefore, people should do their part to reduce their water consumption. For example, instead of leaving the tap on, that person could turn off the tap while brushing his or her teeth. On top of that, the person could take shorter showers, fix leaked pipes immediately and wash their laundry only when it has a full load. Apart from the citizens playing their part on this issue, the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, is also working with water companies to consider the possibility of connecting pipe networks so that water could be transferred from wetter areas.

Roundup kills weeds, but does it harm us?

Roundup kills weeds, but does it harm us?

This article tells us that a research has been conducted to track the presence of a widely used herbicide. This research focused on tracking glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, in Mississippi and Iowa. The herbicide is used for weed-control on farm fields, golf courses and in residential yards.

This herbicide is used on crops from spring to fall in year-round warm areas like Mississippi. The studies showed that glyphosate is present most of the time in the air and rain, as it is found in every stream sample examined in Mississippi in a two-year period and in most of the air samples taken.

The toxicity of glyphosate to human beings and to animals is low, hence the direct effect is not significant. Further research has to be conducted to determine if glyphosate might be harmful to people and the ecosystem over a longer period of time, depending on the level of exposure.

The concentrations of glyphosate in the water bodies are relatively high as compared to most other conventional herbicides (ten to one ratio). However, the concentration of glyphosate is still about a thousand times lower than the concentration of nitrate or sediments.

Fast-growing weeds that are resistant to this synthetic compound are choking out crops in some areas and some scientists say research shows harmful effects of glyphosate products on soil organisms and plants.

This article was shared on the noon of 1st September, 2011, and spokespersons claim that reviews were being studied.

- Catherine Lim

Research Reveals the True Cost of a Burger

Tan Xue Wen, Rayner(21) S3-02

Research Reveals the True Cost of a Burger

The UK could considerably reduce its carbon footprint if more of us switched to a vegetarian diet, according to new research by Lancaster University.
The report 'Relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices' published in the journal Energy Policy says that if everyone in the UK swapped their current eating habits for a vegetarian or vegan diet, our greenhouse gas emissions savings would be the equivalent of a 50 per cent reduction in exhaust pipe emissions from the entire UK passenger car fleet or 40m tonnes.
From biscuits and bananas to beer and wine, everything in our shopping basket comes at a cost to the environment and each stage of food production -- from farming and transport to storage and packaging -results in greenhouse gas emissions.
By working out the typical greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of 61 different categories of food, using supermarket data supplied by Booths, the authors of the report, Professor Nick Hewitt of Lancaster University and Mike Berners-Lee of Small World Consulting, were able to work out the typical emissions associated with a number of different diets.
They worked out that the combined greenhouse gas emissions from the foods we eat in the UK are the equivalent of 167 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, and switching to vegetarian or vegan diets could cut this by between 22 and 26 per cent.
Fresh meat had the highest emissions of all, but meat and cheese had generally high greenhouse gas costs. These emissions were largely caused by methane from rumination, slurry and farm yard manure and nitrous oxide from fertilizer. Meat has a carbon footprint at the checkout of 17kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram. Cheese has 15kg. Cooked meats are also high at 11kg per kilogram, with bacon at 9kg.
Exotic vegetables and mushrooms are high (9kg), largely because of freight and glasshouse heating costs. In contrast, fruit and vegetables grown without artificial heating and/ or were shipped to the UK by sea, have low emissions. Wine has a carbon footprint of 2kg per kilogram, and potatoes, apples, milk, bread and cereals are under 2kg.
Professor Nick Hewitt said: "Greenhouse gases resulting from man's activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, ultimately, with effects on global climate. It is clear that in order to meet the ambitious emissions reductions targets agreed in the UK and elsewhere, emissions from every possible source category have to be addressed and driven down. Food production, particularly by industrialised agricultural practices, causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. Realistic choices about diet can make substantial differences to embodied GHG emissions."

It is amazing how little details of our lives such as the food we eat can impact the environment so greatly. It just goes to show how delicate our eco-system is and how the more important for us to take even greater care of it.
This article also brings up another point, the power of numbers. How such a simple thing as food can cause such a big butterfly effect is due to the numbers(of people eating and number of factories, food demand and etc.) causing a domino effect.
The third point is that a simple thing such as a burger has so many hidden processing. First there’s the bread. The bread. Needs flour, sesame seeds, eggs, butter, yeast and etc. Flour comes from growing wheat, and grinding it. Some factories use machines to grind, contributing to green-house gas emmisions. Sesame seeds also need to be grown. Eggs farmed from chickens and butter processed from the milk of the cow, which has by-products of methane, animal slurry and other pollution contributing substances form animals. And yeast…… the list just goes on and on. And that’s just the bread alone. There is still the bugger patty, the onions, the cheese, the lettuce, the tomato and depending on your type of burger there could be other ingredients as well.

Sobering Future of Wildfire Dangers in U.S. West, Researchers Predict

Link to article:

Wild fires cause much damage. It causes the loss of property, lives(sometimes), pollution, etc. If it becomes too big, it will spread very quickly and very hard to stop. Much money and manpower is pumped in to stop the fire, prevent it from spreading and to prevent it from starting again immediately. It is estimated to cost one billion dollars per year to suppress wild fires but the true cost exceeds that by a few billions of dollars. Lets take some true examples.

Years Annual Cost

1970s $420 million

1980s $460 million

1990s $700 million

2000s $1.4 billion

2001-2007 $3.2 billion

The costs are increasing during the time when wildfires occur normally. Now, when the number and frequency of wildfires increase, how much would it cost now?

Greenpeace: Indonesia's Forest Fire Threatens World(zhiyong)

Shark's fin soup - Cruel or Class?

Link to blogpost/article:

Personally, I feel that the shark's fin soup debate is rather useless. Activist keep reinstating the same point over and over again: we only use the fins and throw the rest of the shark back into the sea, letting it die a painful death.

"However, these sensational pictures obscure the fact that many within the industry are against such practices. The vast majority of fins in the market are taken from sharks after their death. This is the preliminary finding of a review made with the assistance of shark experts, fishermen, captains of big fishing ships and representatives of fishery departments, the fishing industry, fish markets and fishing ports." -quoted from a passage of an article on the Straits Times.

In my opinion, shark's fin soup is delicious and it is considered a delicacy during Chinese New Year and weddings. Although this may sound stupid, but if shark's fin is not offered during these festive periods, the family may appear 'cheapskate'.

However, if one still forbids oneself from enjoying this amazing delicacy, there are alternatives such as bird's nest soup that has much more nutrients and still portrays the same prestige and value.

Chio Jia Le (12)

the Tale of the Cane Toad

Australia vs. the cane toad: Fair fight?

22 million Aussies take on 2 billion cane toads as they continue their relentless hop through the country

A plague of cane toads -- the Godzilla of the amphibian world --

The author describes the can toad as a monstrous creature.

is overrunning Australia. Breeding faster than rabbits, impervious to predators, the cane toads are gradually making their way south and west across the continent.

And Australians seem powerless to stop them.

The author believes Australians are unable to do anything to stop the rapid breeding of cane toads.

The cane toad -- "Bufo marinus" -- was introduced to Australia in 1935 to keep down pests. It can locate food by smell, shrug off water loss and migrate 85 kilometers during a wet season.

As drought-breaking rains have smothered the continent, the toads have gone forth and multiplied. And multiplied again. And again.

Once confined to tropical north Queensland, the toads have migrated as far south as Sydney and have swum, hopped and croaked their way through the Northern Territory, across to Western Australia.

It is estimated there may be as many as 2 billion cane toads in Australia. Dry and warty female toads can lay as many as 25,000 eggs at once.

A spokesperson for the federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, said, “There is currently no 'silver bullet' solution to cane toads.”

Native Australian animals are at the toads' mercy. They excrete Bufotenin, a mildly hallucinogenic, poisonous substance released from glands behind their eyes and back. Toxic, it is feared it could devastate native populations.

The author claims that native Australian animals cannot do anything to protect themselves against the cane toads.

Now, even the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advocates euthanizing cane toads by freezing them.

The author emphasizes that even a society promoting the well being of animals wishes to get rid of the toads.

In Western Australia, the toads are preparing for their next invasion: the delicate and -– until now –- untouched eco-system of the Kimberly Ranges is at their slimy webbed mercy.

There seems to be no answer as Australia shakes its head and ponders that it only has itself to blame.

The author thinks that the situation is hopeless and that Australia can only blame itself for this.

While many people believe attempts to stop the all-conquering pest are futile, some communities are fighting back. Masses of volunteers are collecting toad corpses in a last-ditch attempt to protect their land.

The spread of the cane toad

The Queensland Government first imported cane toads from their native central and southern American habitat to contain cane field pests in 1935. Eating as many as 22 insects per feed, they were seen as an ideal solution.

They were also imported to the Caribbean, Florida and Pacific islands including Hawaii – where they now occupy every island.

In Australia, they have become a resilient, undeniable breed. Their migratory speed has increased eight-fold. They conquered Kakadu National Park a decade ago. It was federally declared a “key threatening process” in 2005.

This wet season, which brought floods to much of the continent, the amphibious attackers have made astounding progress.

They have spread as far south as Port Macquarie, and Sydney held its collective breath last year when micro colonies of the dreaded toad were found were found on the outskirts of the city.

They threaten sensitive populations of much-loved bell frogs, which are adorned in the green and gold national colors.

Professor Ross Alford, a tropical biologist at James Cook University, said, “They could certainly live as far south as Sydney. Some suggest they’ll make it all along the south coast to Adelaide.”

“The Queensland experience suggests [the cane toad] has effects but it doesn’t cause anything to go extinct. Lots of goannas die –- at the time it looks like a disaster, but they recover.”

Endangered quolls

“The exception are quolls (a marsupial predator) where populations crash but don’t recover,” said Professor Alford.

He said the cane toad is a ‘keystone predator’ and could have unknown effects on the eco-system.

A government spokesperson said, “The Threat Abatement Plan (2010) will help identify priorities and activities that could receive funding in the future.”

“(The) Caring for our Country project, through the University of Sydney, (is) targeting the impacts of cane toads on the northern quoll by training the quolls to avoid cane toads by providing small toads laced with a nausea-inducing chemical."

The community front lines

But it’s the cane toad's march through northern Australia that has communities concerned. Brown snakes, the sand goanna, the blue-tongued lizard and the frill-necked lizard are at its mercy. The cane toads look like prey, but any living thing that mistakes them for a native frog and eats them will surely die.

The toads are now in Western Australia and the government has allocated funds to community organizations on the front lines.

One such organization is the Kimberley Toadbusters, based at the foot of the fabled Bungle Bungles, a breathtaking, pre-historic mountain range.

“We’re at the front lines, the colonizing lines," says Lee Scott-Virtue of Toadbusters. "We’re pulling large numbers of toads out and getting at their breeding cycles.”

Along with her husband and son, Scott-Virtue initiated Toadbusters seven years ago and have gathered more than 7,000 volunteers, including backpackers. They work through the night, spotlights beaming and bags at the ready.

“It’s very addictive busting toads,” Scott-Virtue said.

The author implies that one can never stop get tired of busting toads, due to the simple reason that the toads are so populous and abundant everywhere, showing how successful the invasive species was.

Fight as they may, even Toadbusters concede that the invaders’ path into the Kimberley is only a wet season away. But they fight on.

“Toads are now hopping away instead of just sitting when walking up to them,” said Toadbusters administrative coordinator, John Cugley. “Gone are the days of seeing a toad on the road, having time to park the car and casually walk up to the toad. These days it is all split timing, otherwise they are off into the bush and the chase is on.”

Even in Queensland, the largely defeated locals are fighting back. A maverick state politician, Shane Knuth, has been inspired by a “Simpsons” whacking-day episode and initiated an annual Toad Day Out, which sees more than 10,000 toads captured and frozen. He pleads for everyone to play his or her part.

But it’s not a fair fight. The cane toad's progress seems relentless and the cane toad empire unstoppable. Will the final round go to Godzilla?

The author feels that the cane toads will succeed in the end, showing what an irreversible thing it is to introduce feral animals.

Tim Yap