Sunday, April 22, 2007

"How to Buy a Green PC" and other stories

"Topics on environmentalism and 'going green' would be popular, thanks to Al Gore", said a colleague, two days ago, at a meeting to discuss strategies and directions for library programmes.

Yesterday, I received an email on "How to buy a Green PC, and other stories". The email, sent by Siva via the ME@N list, included links to related articles. The one that seemed most interesting was by Singaporean Jasmin Malik Chua, titled "An environmentally friendly computer will help preserve the environment — and save you money".


I was hooked by the words "save you money" rather than "preserve the environment". Some might say this is a Singaporean trait. I agree Singaporeans tend to think from their pockets first, but I'd argue this isn't uniquely Singaporean Thinking.

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I'm reminded of my channel-surfing a few days ago, where I caught Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto". A man called Bob Murray (designation,"Energy CEO") was being interviewed.

Bob Murray asserted that “Al Gore is a very dangerous man” because Gore's ideas about the effects of Global Warming would lead to a loss of job in the US. He said further legislation to control the pollutive effects from using coal would lead to higher energy costs for many US industries and households. China was not imposing those restrictions, Murray continued, so the US would hence be eroding their competitive advantage over such countries that didn't care about the environment.

Hmm... that's like saying "It's OK to pollute the river, because everyone's doing it anyway", isn't it? See, it's not just Singaporeans who thinks from their pockets first.

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I requested Siva to pass me the URL if he was going to publish the email on his blog. I offered to help spread the message.

Here's his post. And he had this to say about Landfills and seeping poisons.
"I experienced Pulau Sakeng mangroves in the early 90's. Shortly after that field trip, they were destroyed to build an offshore landfill linking it to Semakau. That was a dramatic lesson about the absence of landfill space on mainland Singapore. So I get uncomfortable about computer waste since we consume so much. What we cannot dispose of, we've probably sold for shipping and disposal elsewhere; that hurts to think about!"

In the last four to five years, in speaking to friends (and people like tour-guides) living in Singapore, South Korea, China, US, UK, and Europe... we all seem to agree on one thing -- weather patterns have changed noticeably. The seasons (where they have seasons) are colder or warmer.

During our holiday in Beijing, my wife and I learned first-hand from our tour guide that Beijing was in danger of turning into a desert. Our guide, who's lived and worked in Beijing for more than 30 years, said the winters wasn't as cold as before.

Snow could not form. The top soil that used to be covered by the compact snow in winter was gradually being blown away by strong winds that always came in during winter.

A German librarian told me that during her recent skiing trip in her home country, the ski resort had to deploy snow machines to churn out snow. This was in winter. It costs fuel and manpower to generate that artificial snow. I'm sure the resort operators would pass the costs over to customers.

In Singapore, even the money-pinching me had to reluctantly agree with my wife that air-conditioning in the home was no longer a luxury but a must, given the increasingly regularity (and unpredictability) of the warm weather.

The change in weather patterns is already hurting our pockets.

I don't know Bob Murray. He seems to be a controversial figure. I haven't watched "An inconvenient truth". It's been said it's propaganda. But aren't they all? It's only a matter of degrees.

I look around. I read what's being said and written out there.

I look at my monthly utilities bills.

It's around the national average for similar-sized households. It helps that I have a Green Computer already.

I wonder if I can save more by leaving the computer off for longer periods of time at home. It would mean blogging less. But then I could hit the books.

In any case, the truth is often what we choose to see. Then we choose if we want to act or not.

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