What will it take to convince us that tackling climate change (aggravated by deforestation) should be a national priority in the coming year?
Last year was notable for the number of environmental crises that struck us.
1. The unusual and prolonged dry season and water shortages especially in Selangor and the Klang Valley. This alone should have been enough to tell us that something has gone seriously wrong in a country usually blessed with abundant tropical rainfall.
2. The disastrous landslide and flooding at Cameron Highlands.
3. The mini-tornadoes that caused havoc in Kedah (and the water spout in Penang?)
4. The massive year-end floods that swamped the peninsula. Weather stations in the East Coast recorded almost double the usual amount of rainfall in December 2014.
5. The unexpected bad weather that contributed to the downing of AirAsia flight from Surabaya to KL (see the weather map below, hours after the incident occurred).
6. The year-end freak windstorm that blew off roof-tops in Balik Penang, Penang (see video at the top).
7. Tropical storm Janghi, which narrowly missed hitting Sabah.
These incidents, looked at in isolation, may not suggest anything untoward is taking place. But if we look at them collectively, perhaps they point to something larger that is looming almost unnoticed: climate change.
And what are we doing about it while our forests are rapidly vanishing?
What has happened to Malaysia’s commitment to reduce emissions by 40 per cent?
Why are we allowing our precious green spaces to be gobbled by high-end property development?
Why are we selling even more cars rather than dramatically improving public transport across the nation?
Why does renewable energy only comprise 1 per cent of national power generation? (If folks in Australia can install solar panels to power their home air-conditioning, as an Australian friend of mine has just done, what is stopping us, in a country blessed with abundant sunshine, from relying on genuinely renewable energy sources)?
Why are our media not highlighting climate change more? Is it because it will demand that corporations, which provide advertising revenue to the media, cut their emissions and that the government change its development priorities that currently favour mega projects and Big Business?