askST@NLB: Climate change, like lying in bed under increasing layers of blankets, is everyone's problem to solve

Environment Correspondent Audrey Tan and Climate Change Editor David Fogarty speak about climate change at the National Library on Oct 25, 2019.
Environment Correspondent Audrey Tan and Climate Change Editor David Fogarty speak about climate change at the National Library on Oct 25, 2019.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Imagine that as you lie in bed, layer upon layer of blankets are thrown upon you, turning up the heat that you feel.

That is how climate change works, said Mr David Fogarty, climate change editor of The Straits Times, in explaining how mankind was causing the global phenomenon.

"What we are doing is changing the natural cycles by adding heat to the atmosphere, by adding greenhouse gases that kind of acts like a blanket," he said.

"Imagine if you are feeling a bit cold in bed and you add blankets. You add a few more and you add a few more, you are going to feel warm. That is kind of what is happening to the planet."

The heating up of the planet has played a significant role in causing recent problematic weather events, said ST environment correspondent Audrey Tan.

These, she added, include heat waves in Europe in the summer or the devastating typhoon Hagibis that slammed Japan earlier this month and killed more than 80 people.

Ms Tan and Mr Fogarty were speaking to about 140 people on Friday (Oct 26) on the problem of climate change and its relevance for Singapore.

The talk at the Central Public Library, part of the askST  @  NLB sessions, was organised by The Straits Times and the National Library Board (NLB).

The sessions are streamed live on The Straits Times' Facebook page.


During the 90-minute session, the pair also explained to the audience why Singaporeans need to care about recent scientific reports by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which outlined the severe impact of climate change.

The first report published in October last year looked at the impact of warming of 1.5 deg C versus 2 deg C, and showed that even small increases in temperature can make a huge difference to crop production, sea level rise and damage to coral reefs.

The next report on land released in August exposed how mankind's food production is wasteful, destructive and is a huge producer of greenhouse gas emissions, and how changes in diets can make a big difference.

The last report on oceans and the ice-covered parts of the planet published last month revealed the enormous threat from faster melting of ice caps and glaciers to millions of people living along coastlines and on low-lying islands.

Ms Tan said the increasing emission of carbon dioxide is a problem for every country, including Singapore, to tackle, because any emission has a global impact that affects the planet.

Carbon dioxide, emitted when humans burn fossil fuels or clear forests, is a greenhouse gas and it traps heat on the planet.

She said: "One unit of carbon dioxide emitted in Singapore has the same effect as a unit of carbon dioxide emitted anywhere else in the world."

Everyone has a part to play to combat climate change and reduce the emissions of these gasses, said Mr Fogarty. Burning fossil fuels is the main source of such gases, he added, and action is needed by everyone to stop global warming .

"Everyone in this room is to blame. Many people think that climate change has got nothing to do with them, that they live simple lives...we all play our part, some more than others," he said.


Retiree Mr Raymond Tan, 68, has been attending the past four sessions of the askST @ NLB sessions and said that he has enjoyed every single one of them, as they have allowed him to learn more about the issues he reads about in ST.

"I read The Straits Times to keep current and stay aware of what is going on around the world, and these sessions allow me to understand these issues even more.

"Climate change is a very worrying problem, and it was good to hear from the perspective of these journalists who report on the issue."

The next askST @ NLB will be held on Nov 21.