Stepping up to tackle climate change

01 SEPTEMBER 2022, BY New Straits Times
Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah with Merdeka   Award recipients in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 19. Faizal Parish is third from left.  -NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI
Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah with Merdeka Award recipients in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 19. Faizal Parish is third from left. -NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

A few years ago, I thought climate change was something remote that would impact only far-flung places with polar ice caps, glaciers and icebergs.

Or that it was just a fear among Western countries that their winters wouldn't be that cold any more when temperatures rose. And we'd still be hunky-dory with sunny climes in Malaysia. How misconceived I was then,

We've heard of droughts affecting Third World countries. But this year, droughts wreaked havoc on Europe and the United States.

Dried-up rivers in Europe exposed sunken vessels while dried-up lowland areas laid bare bombs from World War II and stone inscriptions from 200 years ago.

Now that I've seen thunderstorms, flash floods and landslides causing misery to thousands of Malaysians, I've changed from my narrow worldview.

Climate change has impacted us. And the threat is real.

On this score, I've been drawn to the determination of many citizens who've stepped forward to make a difference.

One of them is Faizal Parish, whose work with his team at the Global Environmental Centre in Petaling Jaya caught the eye of many, including the Merdeka Award Trust that honoured the organisation this year.

Alluding to the fact that we need the environment just as it needs us, Faizal said: "No one lives like an island. We need each other.

"Experience has been a good but tough teacher to us all, especially through the pandemic. It has taught us how much we need one another like #Kitajagakita.

"We need the environment for clean water to drink, clear air to breathe and natural resources to sustain us as well as all other life on earth, and Mother Nature needs us all too to better respect her and be good stewards of her planet."

Climate-based disasters cannot be ignored or trivialised as these are concerns of epic proportions, he says, pointing to increased storms, flooding and droughts that have killed hundreds of thousands a year.

Land degradation directly affects the survival of 75 per cent of the world's poor.

The massive loss of biodiversity and critical habitats also threatens life while air pollution kills seven million people a year.

Faizal says that the world is in urgent need of a paradigm shift, in thought and in deed.

"We must take personal ownership of this crisis. Why, you may ask?

"Well, simply because we are borrowing the Earth from our children.

"We did not inherit it from our ancestors and so we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to leave the planet in a better condition than the way we found it.

"The ball is in our court. We can make a difference. The next 10 years is critical for the long-term survival of the planet."

Joanne Poh of Somerset Music and playwright Chin San Sooi, decided to tackle the apathy towards water by staging a musical about it.

I reckon that one day water will be a precious commodity before we know it.

After all, there's a saying that thousands have lived without love but none without water. Just picture the agony of millions whenever there's a water disruption.

Chin's storyline has Tiger calling six other animals in the jungle for a meeting where they discuss the despicable acts of man in destroying forests, which lead to the pollution of rivers.

All the animals, including two monkeys, two elephants, a mousedeer and a wild boar, then affirm the sacredness of Mother Earth through an interesting dialogue that tells humans to behave better.

Chin said: "In a small but significant way, we hope that WATER: A Musical would make people be more aware of the environment and treat it with respect and concern.

"The play could lead to larger issues like conservation of the seas and oceans."

WATER: A Musical will be flowing out from Sept 21 to 25 in an interactive manner at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre, Petaling Jaya, as audiences will be invited to sing and dance.



Dr Edison Lee Tian Khoon
Dr Edison headed to Sweden’s Uppsala University, where he joined the Department of Chemistry, Ångström Laboratory, as part of his attachment stint. He is currently carrying out active research in polymer electrolyte and nanomaterials for Lithium-ion batteries. Read more about him here:
Innovating the Energy Ecosystem
Chrishen R. Gomez
Having attended the prestigious Ivy League Brown University as part of his attachment programme, 27-year-old Chrishen is now with the Wildlife Research and Conservation Unit at Oxford University. Chrishen is busy developing a genetic-based research project on the Sunda Clouded Leopard. Read more about him here: Conserving Our Forests & Future
Dr Zetty
Dr Zetty is currently working on anti-cancer compounds found in Malaysian seaweed and has continued to pursue her original project proposal of microalgae vaccine carriers for fish. A working solution has been patented by Dr Zetty and will be deployed within the coming year.
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