Minister Masagos: Tackle climate change or the end of ‘life as usual’

By July 22, 2019Current

TL;DR – It’s not a matter of ‘if’ the sea level will rise but a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how much’. 

Look, I really do not want to scare you or play the alarmist here, but seriously, TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

There’s a speech that all of us should have read or watched last week, but I’m willing to bet my precious last Allen’s Minty from Australia that you didn’t even see it.

Our Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli spoke at the 2019 Partners for the Environment forum last Wednesday (Jul 17) and he had rightly stressed that tackling climate change is a “pressing priority” and an “existential challenge” for Singapore.

His full speech was all of 3,485 words, and I know time is money, so I’m going to save you some “money” by giving you a summary of all that you need to know. Besides, it’s important we all know this since this is a signal of how the 4G leadership team intends to tackle the challenge of climate change.

So, how is Singapore vulnerable?

As a low-lying nation-state, we are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. And I repeat, tackling this existential challenge is a pressing priority for Singapore.  Basically, if we do not act now, these could happen:

  • Low water supply brought about by droughts.
  • Disruptions to our oh-so-important food supply.
  • Negative impact on our health and wellness.
  • Rising sea levels that could submerge Singapore(!)

When black swan meets the perfect storm…

The threat of the rising sea levels is scarier than you can imagine.

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Minister Masagos had said, “Based on today’s science, climate scientists in Singapore have projected that our mean sea levels could rise by up to around one metre by 2100. If ice sheets melt more rapidly and, worse, if ice shelves in Antarctica were to collapse, sea levels could reach one metre even earlier, or go even higher.”

“To many climate scientists, this is one of the most worrying ‘black swan’ scenarios for low-lying countries such as Singapore.”

Jay Ruzesky / Unsplash (via)


Just imagine this, what if we see high mean sea levels, high tide, and high surge all at the same time? Sea levels could reach almost four metres(!!) above current mean sea levels, and overwhelm our low-lying coastal areas.

What of the perfect storm?

As Minister Masagos had said, “And if we push our imaginations further, in the extremely rare occurrence that a tropical storm happens at sea – sending us surge waters that we can’t keep out – and a heavy rainstorm happens inland – bringing down rainwater we can’t drain away – both at the same time, we could have the ingredients of a ‘perfect storm’.”

What has the Government done?

Actually, quite a lot!

Did you know as early as in 2007, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew had written in a FORBES column that, “the ultimate threat to human survival is global warming and climate change. […] If sea levels rise to inundate many millions of people, there will be no ‘life as usual’.”

Over the years, the Government has put in great effort to protect Singapore from the effects of climate change.

  • Our mighty good tree-planting programme has helped to ease rising temperatures.
  • We now already have four national taps to diversify our water supply.
  • Since 2011, we have invested some $1.8b on drainage works to improve our flood resilience.
  • Infrastructure like Changi Airport Terminal 5 is being built on higher platform levels.
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Global project sea level rises (via)

And Minister Masagos said the Government will do more

In his speech, he’d said the Government will continue to do more.

  • Over the next two years, Singapore will spend $400m to upgrade our drains system.
  • A new climate science unit will be set up to strengthen our capabilities in climate science research. We will also invest $10m to study how sea levels will rise around Singapore.
  • A key focus of the Government’s long-term spending will be for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

But the Government cannot combat climate change alone

Minister Masagos urged all of us Singaporeans to pay an active part to partner the Government to safeguard our home by protecting our environment. Here are some ideas.

  • Make climate-friendly choices, like choosing climate-friendly appliances for our homes.
  • Make your every action count, for instance, use LED bulbs instead of fluorescent ones, and reduce the use of single-use plastics.
  • Get involved or start a group to raise more awareness!
Gardens by the Bay by Annie Spratt / Unsplash (via)

Just one more piece of info nugget!

Minister Masagos had shared this, “When I was growing up in the sixties, the hottest month in Singapore was about 27 degrees Celsius on average. That is now the average temperature of the coolest months in this decade, and our hottest days exceed 34 degrees.”

Whatttt…?! Hottest was 27 degrees?!

While there’s probably no way we can go back to those good old cooler days, let’s see if we can do our part to at least not drive the temperature up to 40 degrees or something burning hot like that.

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Together, we can build a more resilient home for ourselves and the future generations.

You can read Minister Masagos’ full speech here.


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Qiqi Wong

Author Qiqi Wong

Insert pretentious crap about myself here.

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