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22 December 2009

Changing Climate Change (an introduction to the topic)

By Jy

Prelude to [A Malaysian youth’s journey to Copenhagen with AirAsiaX]

{AirAsiaX Quick facts:
For AirAsiaX, the key ultimately is about fuel consumption because that is the dominant environment effect.

We have a lot of initiatives to reduce fuel burn including
- Using brand new aircraft with latest technology engines that are a lot more fuel efficient. In fact, our A330-300 is the lowest fuel burn per seat per 100km among widebody aircraft (its lower than a Toyota Prius).
- Pioneering an electronic flight bag system in the cockpit for dynamic flight and weather planning as well as having all documents in electronic forms, instead of heavy 200kg of paper manuals onboard.
- Engine maintenance and wash programs to gain 1%-2% efficiency
- Reduction of weight onboard aircraft to reduce fuel burn.
- Improved pilot training for more efficient take-offs and landings.}

It has been too often said that ‘Everything changes. Change is the only constant thing in this world.’

It seems so natural to accept that it is natural to encounter changes. Yet, change does not occur naturally. It is often, to a certain extent, manmade.

Change occurs partly, if not mostly, because humanity changes, and vice versa. Thus it is perhaps plausible to say that humans have the ability to change to course of changes that occur to our world to shape the future of humanity. In fact, humans have always been doing it since the beginning of mankind.

Change is also manmade since humans are always fighting for change, instead of allowing things to change naturally. From the prehistoric period, to historic revolutions such as the French Revolution, even until recent years…e.g. in the political arena, Obama called for a ‘transformation’ throughout his presidential election campaigns, in Malaysia ‘change’ is one of the most clichéd buzz words used by both the federal government and the opposition ever since the previous elections.

The question is: what’s next after ‘coal age’ and ‘oil age’? We want it to be the ‘Green Age’.

It’s not only about planting trees, especially not when loggers are cutting down so much more trees every single day at a rate quicker than you could plant a pot of hibiscus. Time is ticking and we want a concrete and effective solution. As mentioned, it’s not only about green leaves, we’re now looking at the root of it all—national and international policy.

When it comes to policy, it’s about politics and politicians. The people have to unite and demand for the policy they hope for, and eventually there’ll be ‘supply’. If the current ‘supplier’ refuses to comply with your demands, choose another one instead. Politics works like business.

Politics and business have always been obstacles to the COP15 negotiations that have recently ended. Most developed countries, save perhaps Norway, aren’t sufficiently ambitious and courageous to tackle the issue. And now many still want to stick to ‘business as usual’.

The problem about fighting for climate justice is that public demands are not enough yet. Another issue is that we are still trying to decide who will be a good ‘supplier’.

Therefore, in this daunting journey to fight for climate justice, climate activists are trying their best to convince both politicians/leaders and the people.

During one of the side events at COP15, Minister for Housing, Transport and Environment of Maldives, H.E. Mohamed Aslam, mentioned that elections should be based on the topic of climate change. But Malaysia is different from Maldives. We’re not a sinking island, and people don’t view the issue as an emergency.

Thus, environmental education should be beyond the environmental modules integrated in the national curriculum. The people have the right to know more than that. And we all have the social responsibility to know more than that. We always complain about the hot weather here, yet not many will relate it to climate change. And even fewer will even think of how climate change is related to the food crisis, poverty, hunger, HIV-Aids and other pandemics, and that these will indirectly affect Malaysia as well as the rest of the world.

There are also a number of misconceptions among the general public.
— Preserving the environment means sacrificing and terminating development
Climate justice does not imply that we should give up development, civilisation and return to ‘cavemen’ lifestyles. Human development is inevitable, but climate change is NOT inevitable.
Development may continue, but as civilised people, we shall change the course of development; we should change to an alternative path of development which does not sacrifice the environment and our home—the Earth.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can be changed from one form to another. Same goes to development.

—It takes a lot of money to be environmentally friendly.
Engines weren’t cheap initially. Even mobile phones were expensive when they were first introduced to the market. Humans embraced the Industrial Revolution. We were willing to pay for that. Green technology etc. can be improved and made common as long as there is a demand.
It’s just like paying for insurance. It’s an investment. This time we’re investing on our future, the younger generation’s future and the future of humanity. We have to pay to ensure future benefits. Think long-term.
If we can spend more than one trillion on global armaments annually, we can pay so that we can stop waging war on Earth itself.
We have to invest now to avoid paying a higher carbon price tag in the future.

—The money could be used for community welfare instead.
Is it not ironic to talk about community welfare when humanity is struggling to survive?
In fact, we should perceive the environmental issue as a part of community welfare, as a right, as justice that we all deserve. Think about the rights of indigenous people living in the Borneo forests etc.

—Climate change is a scam. Nature will take care of it.
We’re not taking care of nature at all so why will it take care of our problem?
I’m not scientifically trained on climate change issues so I won’t argue from that perspective.
But it is naïve to wait when problems are growing instead of trees.
A student should complete his/her homework regularly, instead of procrastinating and hoping that the teacher wouldn’t find out, am I right? Why take the risk of being discovered by the teacher in the end, when it’s probably too late for a second chance?

Therefore, give politicians another meaningful reason to ‘fight’, and give the general multitude a mission to decide on our future instead of joining some random Facebook group and not knowing how to help.

To let the rest of the population see the bigger picture, it also depends on how the ‘converted’ ones paint the picture.

A safe and sustainable environment and future is our right.