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The Straits Times: Climate change is closer than you think

Singaporeans' love of travel this recent holiday season may have served as an eye-opener and an unusual wake-up call to the impact of climate change. Osaka's Kansai airport shut down after Typhoon Jebi flooded the facility, resulting in flight cancellations. This deluge follows an unprecedented summer heatwave in Japan which killed at least 65 people in one week in July.

Japan is not the only country that experienced record temperatures. Summer in Europe saw the mercury at sizzling new highs, with temperatures in Spain and Portugal soaring above 40 deg C. Drought hit large swathes of Australia, wildfires ravaged California, and in balmy Singapore, July and August temperatures hit highs of 35 deg C.

Such inclement weather is a rude reminder that climate change is not a dire future scenario scheduled to happen decades from now, but an immediate reality with a visceral impact on lives.

In sheltered Singapore where people can dodge the humid heat by ducking from air-conditioned public transport into overly cooled buildings, and where typhoons and drought are the stuff of news bulletin headlines, the idea of climate change can seem academic and distant. That is until travel and holidays are disrupted, and future plans have to take in the new normal of excessive heat or stormy weather as global warming changes weather patterns to deleterious effect. Recognising the effects of climate change is the first step in trying to ameliorate its impact. Singapore continues to do its part - the latest by launching the new Green Mark for Super Low Energy to get developers to construct much greener office buildings.

Individually, Singaporeans could do more to reduce their environmental impact - from wearing less fast fashion to wasting less food. And if there is one positive to take from having to abandon or postpone holidays in the face of bad weather, it is that this at least reduces their carbon footprint.

Copyright Singapore Press Holdings Limited. All rights reserved.

Last updated 19 Sep 2018

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