In the wake of the past century, man began to acknowledge the fragile balance that existed between him and the environment. Intensive industrialization efforts offset the balance that had been maintained between man and the climatic conditions that prevailed. Detrimental practices such as deforestation, air and water pollution began to rise and consequently posed a threat to mankind’s own survival. The consequences that have risen as a result of neglecting to take care of the environment have now become a reality to the whole of humanity. This condition has forced environmental issues to take a center stage in man’s life as can be exhibited by the recently held Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. In light of the importance with which environmental conservation is regarded, this paper shall set out to highlight the efforts of one nation in its bid to reduce its air pollution. Solutions and recommendations shall be made on how the government can reduce their carbon print by a further 20%.
Singapore’s Air monitoring systems
After gaining its independence in 1965, Singapore embarked on a revolutionary mission based on industrialization and urbanization processes in order to realize both economical and political survival (Huang & Bocchi 2008, p.14). Since then, it has developed tremendously and is recognized globally as the third largest oil refining center and harbors the fourth largest port in the world. Bearing in mind these staggering facts, Singapore undoubtedly harbours the capacity to be among the most polluted states owing to its huge industrialization efforts. Contrary to these expectations, Singapore’s pollution levels are within limits.
According to Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources website, the country’s has maintained ambient air quality standards which are currently within the set limits established by the US environmental protection agency (USEPA) and their rates of emission are at per with the standards required by the world health organization. These astonishing results have been achieved basically due to the political will imposed by the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He envisioned a greener and environmentally sound state back in the 60’s and as a result proposed a tree planting exercise which has up to date has played an important role in mitigating and checking various forms of pollution.
So far Singapore has 16 air monitoring stations located in different parts of the island to accurately capture the air quality of the state. Thirteen of these are dedicated to analyzing the general ambient air quality while the other three monitor roadside pollutants. If unchecked, statistics predicted that Singapore Co2 emissions would reach a record high of 75 million tones compared to the current 40 million tones levels. The government expects to further reduce these levels by 20% by the year 2020. Policies and directives have been proposed on how this target can be met and the implementation of the same is underway. According to Chiras (2009, p.2), it is a collective effort between the state and citizens alike to reduce these emissions by slightly changing their day to day activities.
Means to reduce pollution levels
In its bid to reduce the pollution levels, the government of Singapore has various strategies in place. A significant policy is that of Tax rebates which will be offered to hybrid and electric car owners during purchase. This move by the government will reduce vehicular emissions by a wide margin since exhausts by vehicles are some of the biggest causes of air pollution. In addition to this, all industries are required by law to plant trees which acts as carbon sinks thus reducing pollution levels.
Over the years, it has been suggested that new architectural designs can help retard global warming. As such, Singapore has laws in place which stipulate that new industrial, commercial and residential houses will be built using materials compliant with the new environmental laws. More effective and efficient water and waste treatment methods have also been developed and it is a prerequisite to have them installed before starting up any industry in Singapore. Citizens are also encouraged to use the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) model as part of their contribution towards a greener State.
Clift and Cuthbert (2009) assert that individuals can do a lot on their own to reduce the carbon footprint. Singapore’s population is among the highest consumers of electricity in the world. It is therefore important that they adjust their lifestyle if they are to meet the stipulated limits by 2020. This can be done by switching to less energy consuming light bulbs, using public means of transport as compared to personal vehicles, switching back to fans rather than using air conditioners, using LCD and plasma screens instead of tube televisions. To curb water pollution, dish washers can be employed instead of hand washing thereby reducing water wastage. Using the shower instead of the bath tub has been known to reduce Co2 emissions.
The industrial sector is notable the chief polluter in almost all countries. As such, any change in this sector no matter how small can spell a big difference to the overall reduction of carbon emission. Shifting to more eco friendly equipments that use less fuel is one of the notable ways in which industries can make a difference. Industries that employ the use of boilers should install smoke density meters which check on the levels of smoke emitted into the air thereby creating a means through which these harmful emissions can be regulated. Implementation of a decentralization programme can also help greatly reduce both vehicular and industrial pollution. This is because decentralization calls for the spreading out of industries as opposed to having them concentrated in one area. On the same note, potentially pollutant industries such chemical plants, sawmills, ship repairing, cement manufacturing should be located to either the seaward side or offshore side of the island in order to reduce water pollution.
In addition to the above measures, the government can also initiate tree planting programmes, encourage establishment of parks, offer funds to green groups and agencies which help find solutions to environmental issues. An increase in taxation on vehicles that are “gas guzzlers” can also aid in the battle to reduce green house gases emissions. Clift and Cuthbert (2009) reiterate that industrialization no matter how important posses a great threat to our environment if left unchecked. It is therefore in the best interest of everyone if the government adopts means to monitors the rates of industrialization and applies stringent rules and laws in matters concerning preservation of the environment.
This paper has in detail described the environmental situation that exists in Singapore. While it has been observed that the state is in sync with the required standards stipulated by the global community, there is still much more that can be done to even better the current scores. It has also been established that the vision for a greener state can only be realized if the public and private sectors come and work together as a team. Recommendations have also been made as to how the government and the citizens can contribute in this important task of reducing pollution by a further 20% by the year 2020. If implemented, these changes no matter how little will at the end make a vast difference in the lives of many people as well as the ecological balance that supports such existence. It is therefore upon each person to foresee that they fulfill their roles in this quest in order to secure a greener and safer future for those that will follow.
Chiras, D 2009, Environmental Science, 8edn, Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Clift, J & Cuthbert, 2009, A Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference Chelsea Green Guides, Chelsea Green Publishing.
Huang, Y & Bocchi, M 2008, Reshaping Economic Geography in East Asia, World Bank Publications.
Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources 2009, Clean Air Policies, 2009. Web.