No, this isn’t about Tata Young’s album.

Some time ago after I first watched An Inconvenient Truth (you can probably guess what this is about already), I thought to myself that maybe the first, immediate step that I can take to help take on the global warming crisis (definitely you know what this is about by now) is by saving electricity. Most of the world’s electricity is generated by thermal sources, that is, we burn coal or other fossil fuels to heat up water and produce steam, which in turn will turn the turbine that’ll produce electricity. This is a very inefficient process, as burning fossil fuel like that produces not much energy and much less is finally converted into electricity. But so far, it has been the cheapest means to produce electricity. (Or so the conventional thinking says).

Temperature record Okay, back to my first thought. So I figured immediately afterwards that maybe saving electricity is the first immediate step I could take. But then the thought came to me: isn’t Malaysia’a electricity is primarily produced by hydroelectric means? If then, there’ll be not much difference if I save electricity as a way to contribute to fighting global warming. Only months later did I realise how wrong I was.

2003 estimate of Malaysia’s electricity is 92.65 percent from thermal sources. Only 7.35 percent is from hydroelectric. Yeah, I know. I was wrong by far.

So each time I leave my computer on and not using it, I burn coal and put CO2 into the atmosphere for nothing. Each time my house mates leave their room’s light on when they’re not in there, more and more greenhouse gases are put into the atmosphere for nothing. Every time we switch on unnecessary lights or other electrical equipment, we’re choking the Earth for nothing. I’m not against using electricity, hell how could we live without it? But the price we have to pay is the well-being of our Earth and the lives of our future generation: our children, our grandchildren, our grandchildren’s children. It’s that price we have to pay for nothing that I’m against of. For nothing. And it’s not like we’re even close to being able to pay it.

But how could we possibly make a difference?

Exactly. How could one person possibly make a difference in the world? Great excuse for skeptics and selfish people who doesn’t care a bit about the environment, great demotivator for those who actually care. I say that it is a great demotivator because it is. You wanna change to make a change, but what if there’s no change? What if there’s no improvement? The common argument is that a collective effort will surely make a difference, and it must start from individuals. That’s where we are. The first persons that will make up that collective community. Maybe not now, maybe not immediately, but we will make a difference.

Muir GlacierAnd here’s a better way to think of it. We have come to a time where the effects of global warming are already being manifested. Glacier’s retreat, broken ice shelf, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, etc. So the question whether we care about the environment or not is no longer a noble or a philosophical one. It has come down to an ethical and moral question of our time. So like every other ethical question, we need to treat it like an ethical and moral question. It’s no longer something that we have a choice whether to do it or not. It’s something that every principled person must do. It’s on the same level as any other ethical question of our life, like stealing has so long became an ethical question. We principled and decent people obviously don’t go and steal people’s stuffs or destroy their belongings or the public facilities. Anybody doing that would be unethical and is punishable by law. Why then, stealing from the future generations and help destroy the environment they’ll live in is not a crime? Why then is it not punishable by law? Why then we’re not treating it as an ethical question? Why then are we committing it and don’t even care to stop, much less to help undo the damage? Why, we of all life that claims to be superior to every other beings on Earth, are so cruel and foolhardily ignorant?

It may take much more than just reading this post to help you change your mind, but this is a part I’m doing. The server this website is hosted on is switched on 24/7, and perhaps by posting this post here could somehow help to offset all the CO2 released into the air to keep the server running. I’m doing my part. And this is not all that I’m doing. There’s a lot of other things that you and me must start doing. At the end of this post you’ll find some of the steps that can help you get started on this global fight against global warming.

There are many ways we can help fight global warming, many channels that we can go to, many people out there who devote part of their time to combat global warming and help other people to join the effort. One such example is the people behind Malaysia Wildlands Project. Go to their website and you can see several ways of how you can be a responsible citizen of the Earth. My friend flies to and from Bintulu several times each year, and each of those return flights releases 370.42 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere per person. When I told one of them about it, he said: “Ish2. biarla lantak (let it be). muahaha~“. Now, I’m not saying that he doesn’t care, but more of like he doesn’t know how or what he can do about it. Well, obviously not to fly isn’t a choice, his home is in Bintulu! In fact, that’s not even a practical solution. But there is an easy and simple way to be responsible. Purchase carbon. For that much of CO2 produced by a KL – Bintulu return flight, it would only cost USD4.19 (that’s barely RM15!!) to offset it. And it is easy to do. Go to that Malaysia Wildlands Project website and you can contribute that little amount of money online. But of course, it’s very likely that we’ll come up with excuses not to do so. If only we could be more responsible…

Recent Sea Level RiseI told my other friend about that Malaysia Wildlands Project, and she sounds a bit sceptical to whether the money contributed through that website will really go towards conserving the nature or not. Well, yeah, it’s easy for us to be sceptical, and the thought that people would actually take advantage on global warming by cheating other people’s noble intention is something way way superselfish and superunethical and should be ejected into the outer space (if only such thing is feasible). But if we are to be suspicious to every single person or group of person who want to do good and that prevents us from contributing, well, that in itself is the reason to our failure of being responsible that supersedes all those other bad bad people who takes away that cake that belongs to Earth. We don’t need them stealing from the Earth, cause there’s no one giving anything in the first place!

Anyway, I told that friend of mine that I personally know the guy who runs that Malaysia Wildlands Project. Irshad Mobarak, a naturalist currently residing in Langkawi. If there’s anyone I’ve met and personally known that contributes the most to the Earth, that would be him. He brings people on nature tour, instilling in them love and care for the nature. He oversees the island’s wild life population, encourage people going on the tour to plant trees and mangrove in the swamp area, and many other things that many of us are remote to doing it.

So maybe each of us needs to sit down or lie on the bed at night and reflect on this crisis that we are all facing now. Perhaps we should ask ourselves what the hell are we doing still contributing to the global warming when there is clear that ethics is absent in us by doing so? And most importantly, perhaps we should ask ourselves why are we still not reacting. We know that it’s a fragile planet we’re living in. This place we call home, this place many generations after us will call home, is the only place we have to live. We have no other. Isn’t it worth doing something for?

The Earth from moon

Some suggestions to help get you started:

  1. Save electricity
    • Thermal sources are by far the biggest source of electricity in the world, including Malaysia. By saving electricity, we are almost directly stopping a huge bunch of CO2 gas from being released into the atmosphere. So stop wasting electricity now. This can be as simple as turning off the light when leaving the room or reduce the air-conditioner’s temp by 1 degree or 2.
  2. Purchase carbon every time you travel by air
    • Airplanes use kerosene as fuel, and that releases a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere. Contribute a certain amount of money (not much) to offset that amount of CO2 we help to release. One website where you can do this is the Malaysia Wildlands Project.
  3. Watch “An Inconvenient Truth”
    • What you don’t know, you won’t care. Watch that piece of documentary movie. It might just help you get on with this effort.
  4. Spread the words
    • Tell other people what you know about global warming, and help raise awareness. You can even link back to this post if you have a blog or website, or simply put the link to this post in every email you sent as a signature.
  5. Practise what you preach
    • Don’t just say but not do it. Action speaks louder than words, after all.
  6. Get involved with any nature-related projects
  7. Download this 10 Simple Tips from the An Inconvenient Truth website.