Friday, September 5, 2008


You see the above slogan everywhere on campus (or at least in the science faculty). But are we REALLY fighting climate change? I applaud NUS for the efforts made, e.g. charging extra for plastic bags, providing recycle bins etc, but are they really effective?

All these efforts will be for naught if the general population does not contribute to the movement. "10 cents more for a plastic bag? So what? I can afford it." "Throw the cans and waste paper into the recycle bin? Aiyah, too far!" In order to fight climate change, the general public must be educated on the detrimental effects of it. Many know about “climate change”, but do they really understand it?

Even with the widespread publicity campaigns by the NEA and various other organizations, many people are still either ignorant or refusing to see the signs. Why is this so? Obviously, there must be something wrong with the current education system.

In order to devise a proper education system, we must first understand the reasons as to why the general population refuses to embrace the movement. Is it because of cost? Or are there other reasons?

Only then, will we be able to truly fight Climate Change.

Hence, I will like to propose the following topic for the research project.

Research question
How aware are NUS students about the climate changes and its' effects?

NUS students are well aware of the climate changes and the effects. (>70% of survey questions correct)

Problem statement
The objective of this research study is to determine the awareness level of NUS students about the climate changes and its' effects.

Purpose statement
The objective of this report provides the NUS committee with data on the level of awareness of the NUS student body. If this is low, it might provide useful information for the committee to devise a better campaign/education system. If the level of awareness is high, it shows that the campaign is effective and might be worthwhile to implement in other institutions.

Reasons for Attitudinal Survey
The main objective of this campaign is to educate/change the attitudes of NUS students towards climate change. Hence, in order to determine the success rate of this campaign, we will need to poll the student body to determine the current awareness level.
Edited 8/9/2008


Brad Blackstone said...

Okay, this is a relevant topic and it's context appears to be NUS, which is highly relevant for us. But I don't see how you will frame this study. What's the main research question? Why will you do a survey, and of whom?


joyce said...

Dear Weikin,

Perhaps the research questiion could be to determine the effectiveness of the 'NUS Fights Climate Change' campaign and the reasons for its success or failure? You can then target NUS students and survey them to determine the main reason for the campaign's success or failure in raising awareness. :) Just a suggestion!

By the way, I do agree that many people just take things for granted now as they have not felt the 'detrimental effects' of climate change. This is especially so in Singapore, where we are sort of 'sheltered' from natural disasters. I've always thought that maybe some people just don't care because they think that they won't suffer the impacts of climate change in their time. :S Many people still don't realize it is too late to fight climate change. What we can do now is to delay it, yet many people are still ignorant like you mentioned, and do all sorts of things to speed up the change. I do believe that people are aware of climate change. It is just that they choose not to take it to heart.

Yu Ming said...

SAVE is making a valiant effort to start grassroot movements towards fighting climate change. However, I have to agree with you that the general consensus hasn't change and most people are just viewing these actions as an annoyance. Perhaps the apathy could be due to the lack of an immediate reward for their good efforts. After all, a 10 cents punishment is easily reasoned as an insignificant hassle. However, a 10 cents rebate might be dealt with differently. In a nut shell, I guess we need to 'repackage' the reasons into a more appealing form that resonates better with the Asian mentality - make more money:)

Oxy said...

Hello Weikin,

Personally, I feel that it is part of human nature to not embrace changes until something comes along to force them to change direction (somewhat like one of the laws of physics!). Being accustomed to a comfortable and extravagant way of life, people will need reasons that are good enough to make them be willing to alter their way of life and perhaps suffer some discomfort in the process.

Like what Joyce mentioned, we are sheltered from natural disasters. The unnaturally powerful hurricanes, the prolong droughts and excessive rainfalls do not affect us as much as they do to many people of other countries. It is easy to ignore these repercussions when dangers and sufferings are not close at hand.

I feel that it is important to cultivate “environmental-consciousness” since young. Children’s minds are malleable; it is much easier to inculcate values into children than adults who already have preconceived notions of the world. Had “environmental-consciousness” been taught young, it would have been, to most people, a natural way of life.

Naturally, this is easier said than done. Before we convince children, we need to convince the adults. Education, I believe, is still the most effective tool. Perhaps people would be more willing to cut down on plastic bags usage if they could see the enormity or usefulness of their actions. People cannot see the good that they are doing by cutting down on the usage of plastic bags usage alone. However, it may be more effective if we could show them the total contribution a society can bring about through mathematical calculations and extrapolations.

We can also strive to let people see the direct economic benefits they can gain out of their actions but inculcating environmental consciousness is still the most effective tool in the long run.

Wei Kin said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Brad: Sorry, I must have misunderstood the topic for this week's post. I will post up a re-edit ASAP.

Joyce: I'm thinking more along the line of "How aware are NUS students about the climate changes?" I will then target the NUS students to determine the level of awareness and the reasons (if any) about why they are or are not fighting the climate change.

With regards to your second point, I thoroughly agree with you. Many of the older generation have the mentality, "since we are not affected by it, don't care." It is a horrible attitide that many Singaporeans have. Just take a look at the MRT. We have designated seats for the disabled, elderly, pregnant etc. We even have a LARGE sticker above the seats asking politely for people to give up the seats. But do anyone do this? NO! Everyone has this "Not my problem, I don't care" attitude. Seems like I digressed pretty far from the topic.

Anyway, I believe in order for the campaign to be successful, a change in attitude is required.

Yuming: Those are very valid points. "Green" cars are recently becoming more and more popular due to rising petrol costs and cheaper biofuels. I believe many of them bought the cars mainly for the cheaper fuel and not to "Save the earth". As human beings, we are more likely to take the "carrot" than the stick

Oxy: Like you mentioned, attitude plays a very important part. The problems come with devising a proper education system for cultivating the proper values. Which is why I would like to propose doing a study on the current awareness level of the (as PM Lee puts it) "future leaders of Singapore".