Kids, share your climate story with ST

The Straits Times and Little Red Dot want to hear from you on what you think your climate future might look like. PHOTO: ST DIGITAL

SINGAPORE - What do you think the future holds for you and your friends when it comes to the environment? 

Will you be living in a decaying world, hit hard by climate change? Or perhaps mankind – including you and your friends – will have come up with a way to save the earth and its living flora and fauna? 

The Straits Times (ST) and Little Red Dot want to hear from you on what you think your climate future might look like.

We are seeking your most creative and imaginative eco-related stories. They can be fiction or non-fiction, as long as they are original ones you have come up with.

The best stories will be brought to life for a climate special by ST that will feature your voice, pre-recorded in our studios, alongside an illustrated version of your story created by our team. The top three entries will also receive $100 in vouchers, as well as some ST gifts such as a backpack, a mug and cute notebooks.

Submission guidelines

Pick one of the following topics and tell us your climate future story. We’d love to hear your voices, so record an audio story about 1 to 2 minutes long. If you’d prefer to write your story, try to keep to 300 words.

The topics are:

● Hotter temperatures

● Rising sea levels

● Protecting our wildlife

● Climate careers

Read below for more on each topic, submission guidelines, teacher tips and terms and conditions.

Rules and regulations

1. Submit all entries by Sept 9, 2022, with your name, school and parent’s e-mail address. Each entry should be submitted to stschools@sph.com.sg with the audio or word file as attachments.

2. If you are sending a word document, please use Arial font size 14. The story should also be double-spaced. Please include your full name, school, and class at the top right-hand corner of your document. Save your document in this format: YourName.docx or YourName.pdf.

3. All entries should adhere to the word limit of 300 words and should be written solely by yourself. You should not ask an adult to write the story for you. Entries found to have been plagiarised or written by someone else will be disqualified.

4. The judges’ decision is final and no negotiations or correspondence with entrants will be entered into.

Topics

Hotter temperatures: Are you feeling the heat?

Today, the effects of a warmer world are felt most harshly by people who work outdoors as well as people who live in less ventilated places.  PHOTO: ST FILE

It could be hot, hot, hot – 40 deg C on some days – by 2045 here.

You would be in your 30s: Imagine the unforgiving sun beating down on your back as you dash out at lunchtime to buy lunch.

Should you care? After all, you could simply turn the air-conditioner to a lower temperature, and turn up the fan to a higher speed.

Well, yes. Today, the effects of a warmer world are felt most harshly by people who work outdoors – from engineers and architects who survey work sites, or even physical education teachers to gardeners – as well as people who live in less ventilated places. 

The elderly also suffer more, as their bodies are more prone to heat-related illnesses. For instance, their sweat glands may be less efficient, so they are unable to lose excess heat easily.

Other than humans, animals suffer too. For instance, cattle that are overheated will produce less milk and are less able to conceive.

The warmer oceans and seas also are causing algal blooms (when algae grows rapidly on the water surface), bleaching corals and decreased oxygen levels in the water.

How else do you think warmer temperatures would hurt this earth and its inhabitants, and what do you think your role would be?

Rising sea levels: Rising water levels threaten the world

Many coastal or low-lying areas are already facing the threats of constant floods. PHOTO: REUTERS

While the effects of climate change will likely be different depending on each region, life is set to get harder for everyone everywhere around the world.

Erratic climate conditions means that not only are some places facing searing heat, but that many others are facing another catastrophe – rising sea levels. 

Many coastal or low-lying areas are already facing the threats of constant floods, as increasingly warm temperatures cause the ice at the earth’s poles to melt. 

Besides disrupting the habitats of animals such as polar bears and penguins, the melting ice will also flow into the oceans.

Since water expands when it becomes warmer, it will take up more space in the oceans, which will raise sea levels. Low-lying areas may become submerged in the future. Singapore is one of the countries that is facing that risk.

The country has experienced some of its worst flash floods in the last few years. With climate change, this could get worse. About 30 per cent of all land in Singapore is less than 5m above sea level. Because of that, the country is already taking steps to protect its coasts.

One way it is doing that is by conducting studies that will help develop coastal protection measures for Singapore’s coastlines. Another way is to ensure that new developments will be built at least 5m above sea level.

How else do you think rising sea levels would hurt this earth and its inhabitants in the future, and what do you think your role would be?

Protecting our wildlife: Bringing wildlife back

Climate change is hastening the loss of animal species and habitats all around the world. PHOTO: KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK/FACEBOOK

Climate change is hastening the loss of animal species and habitats all around the world. When animal species and habitats disappear, in a process called biodiversity loss, food supplies, jobs, economies and human health are threatened.

However, many conservation projects around the world are helping to bring back endangered and extinct wildlife species. For example, in Australia, an endangered mammal has been reintroduced after disappearing more than 100 years ago.

The brush-tailed bettong, also known as the woylie or “rat kangaroo”, is about the size of a rabbit and moves around with a springy hop. While it used to be found in many areas in Australia, experts said that the species was almost wiped out when cats and foxes were introduced by Europeans. 

Last year, 12 male and 28 female woylies were reintroduced to South Australia. Woylies help to improve habitats for other species by dispersing seeds and nutrients while digging up tonnes of soil.

Meanwhile, an endangered wild horse species known as the Przewalski’s horse was once extinct in China. But now, the country is home to 800 of the horses after the species was first reintroduced in 1985.

There are many animal species that are native to Singapore. What role do you think you can play in the future, should any of them face the danger of extinction?

Climate careers: Jobs of the future

A commercial vehicle being charged at a electric vehicle charging station in Singapore on Aug 5, 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

Right now, car mechanics may mostly do repair work on “traditional” vehicles that run on petrol. But in the future, they may need to improve their skills so that they can repair an electric vehicle. 

Likewise, a power engineer who is keen to be part of the green economy may need to learn more about hydrogen, solar and other renewable energies. 

As Singapore works towards its sustainability goals, many workers here are keen to explore green jobs. Companies are also eager to hire workers to fill these roles.

However, for the moment, firms here have not created enough of such jobs. And employees have not acquired enough green skills to take on the scarce openings that are available.

This was the picture painted by several studies published earlier this year by various websites and consultancies. To address that, Singapore plans to provide more opportunities for people to equip themselves with the relevant skills so that they can benefit from the growing green economy.

One example of a company that has taken steps to train its staff in sustainability is OCBC.

Last year, the bank launched a suite of sustainability training modules to groom more subject experts within the bank.

At that time, it had also created more than 50 sustainability-related jobs within the bank across various areas such as sustainability research, ESG (environmental, social and governance) assessment, and community development and environment conservation programmes.

What sort of green jobs do you think would be available in the future? What role would you like to play in the green economy?

Teacher’s tips for…

Creating a realistic setting

Most young writers dive into developing their plots and characters to make their stories convincing. However, every good story needs a time and location to take place in – its setting. Your story’s setting will lend a sense of realism to your plot, and keep your reader engaged through the following ways: 

1. Instead of merely describing the environment in your story, show how the characters interact with it, and how they feel being in that place.

2. Focus on details when describing your setting. If your story is set in the daytime, do not simply say it was a hazy morning. Describe how the sky looked or the air smelled like so that you can paint a vivid picture for the reader.

3. Use actual locations or buildings around you for inspiration. If your story takes place in the distant future, think about how such buildings will change in appearance as time passes, and describe those changes in your story as your character experiences being in these places.

Building characters in your story

1. Avoid having too many characters in a short story.  Having one or two main characters allows you to focus on developing their thoughts and feelings as the plot progresses. Try to refrain from having too many minor characters as this would mean your main character ends up as a very superficial figure in your short story.

2. The background of a character can be told through flashbacks. The past experiences of your main character allows the reader to understand his or her feelings better.

3. To make your characters more interesting, reveal their inner conflict through their reactions to events in the plot. For instance, take the time to elaborate on a character’s feelings when he realises something is beyond his control.

Suspense in short stories

Suspense in any short story gets the reader riveted to the storyline. Here are ways you can build a sense of excitement in the reader. Foreshadowing is a technique that writers use to hint at something that will occur later in the story.

One type of foreshadowing could be through a detailed description of the setting. For instance, if your story does not have a positive ending, then you might foreshadow the conclusion with storm clouds in the distance to hint that danger is about to occur.

Another way to build anxiety or uncertainty is through the use of onomatopoeia.

This refers to the use of words that imitate the sounds one is trying to describe, such as “shriek”, “crash” and “creak”. These sound effects help to build suspense as your reader is provoked into an emotional response while reading your story.

Writing memorable endings

Try ending your short stories with the following methods:

1. Open endings

Not every good ending has a resolution for your characters. Stories with open endings leave the reader guessing what might happen next. Such unexpected endings add an element of surprise and may even contain a twist in the tale.

2. Endings with reflections or morals of the story

Though these may seem predictable, such stories tend to give personal insight, and can allow the reader to also ponder about an important life lesson, or the writer’s main message.

3. “Full circle” endings

Such endings are challenging to write, as you will have to plan your plot cleverly such that the story ends as close as possible to how it begins. For instance, if your story begins with your main character standing on the beach looking at the sunset, it could end with him on the same beach, at sunrise.

Terms and conditions

1. Winners agree to grant and assign SPH Media the copyright and intellectual property rights to publish the work as it sees fit.

2. The organiser will get in touch with winners’ parents or guardians to administer the logistics. Some personal data may be collected in connection with administering or managing these logistics

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.