A poem by blog visitor, Khoo Soo Hay, who yearns for more natural, green surroundings, preceded by an 1848 warning of climate change by James Logan.
But first an update on the water level at the Penang dams in an extract from a statement by PBAPP chairman Lim Guan Eng:
Every year we ensure that the water levels in the dams are at the maximum level at beginning of January. In fact, the dry spell is not an unusual phenomenon as it is an annual occurrence and expects the dry weather to last until April when the inter-monsoon season starts.
The water level at the Air Itam Dam is at 71% capacity and sufficient for 70 days of supply, Mengkuang Dam is at 50.5% capacity and sufficient for 84 days of supply while Teluk Bahang Dam is at 91% capacity which is sufficient for 277 days of supply. There is no need for water rationing now.
Of the three (3) dams, only Air Itam Dam is dropping fast and PBAPP is doing all it can to maintain the reserve capacity to last for another 90 days by bringing in more water from Seberang Perai. However, it cautions the consumers to not waste water for washing cars and gardening or hosing of the house gardens. If no rain falls in the catchment area within 30 days, Air Itam Dam level will reach 40% capacity which will only last for another 43 days. At this critical stage, PBAPP will impose water rationing in the Penang Island to cater for the daily basic needs of the consumers.
Now check out this warning from 1848 of climate change in Penang by James Logan, published in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, which he edited.
It was remarked that the whole of the eastern front of the range [of a mountain in Pinang] has within a few years been denuded of its forest…. In Singapore the present zealous Governor has, in an enlightened spirit … absolutely prohibited the further destruction of forests on the summits of hills…. Climate concerns the whole community and its protection from injury is one of the duties of Government….
It is not necessary to cite Humboldt or Boussingalt to prove the great influence in tropical regions of forests, and especially of mountain forests, in attracting and condensing clouds, diminishing local temperature, and increasing humidity. But if the forests had no other effect other than to protect the clay soil of the mountain from the action of the sun’s rays, this alone should be sufficient to ensure their careful preservation. It is in this soil that the waters which supply the streams of the island, and which percolate downward to the lower lands, are enclosed. In ordinary seasons, when there is a considerable fall of rain, the importance of preventing the contents of these reservoirs from being dissipated may not be so obvious. But it may now be considered as a well established fact that the eastern Archipelago is subject to periodical droughts, although the laws of their recurrence are not yet ascertained. That such droughts will again and again happen, and are in fact in the settled course of nature admits of no question….
Unless government will reserve at least the steeper mountain tracts, which are not adapted for permanent culture, there is nothing voluntary in the apprehension, for it has been realized in other localities, that in some prolonged drought after the naked sides of the hills have been exposed for a few weeks to the direct heat of the sun, every stream in the island will be dried up, and universal aridity ensue. The great extent to which the plain of the mainland of Pinang has been shorn of its forest would of itself produce an urgent necessity for a stop being at once put to a war with nature, which must entail severe calamaties on the future. In those mountains of Greece which have been deprived of their forests, the springs have disappeared. In other parts of the globe, the same consequence has followed. The sultry atmosphere and dreadful droughts of the Cape de Verde Islands are owing to the destruction of forests….
We are informed that the destruction of jungles on the mountains of Pinang has been allowed to proceed unchecked for the last 2 years. If any of the residents will bring it to the notice of the Governor we are sure from our knowledge of his opinions, with respect to the necessity of preserving hill jungle, that he will not only make an order on the subject, but what is essential, provide means for carrying it into effect.
And this is the poem by Khoo Soo Hay:
I need a mountain spring
I need to find a mountain spring
That man has never seen or touched,
That only deer come to drink
And birds and squirrels can vouch.
To have it bordered by plants
And small pools for peacock fish
To swim and play stunts
Reflecting its scaly rainbow flash.
And by its side monkey cups abound
Collecting dewy drops of rain
The agile monkeys’ life-line bond
That is part of the mountain terrain.
I need a mountain spring
Unspoiled by human hands,
Its pure water, unwashed, unringed,
Left to wash only its bottom sands.
I need a mountain refreshed
By the sweet songs of birds calling
For their mates to build their nest
Amidst butterflies fleeting.
I do not need artificial springs
That sound un-operatic
That infiltrate our private space, bring
To our ear, music chaotic.
I do not need a concrete jungle
Where hills and mountains vanish.
No trees and branches jangle,
But cement, plastic and steel finish.
Give me a mountain spring
Pure and unsullied to dream
Before the rising of the sun
And its lying down before the moon beam.
That is my last wish for myself,
And for others who love this earth,
That come what may, the shelf
Of life will continue to have hope and rebirth.
By Khoo Soo Hay