Has it ever occurred to you that Malaysia has the highest rate of deforestation in the world? Or have you any idea that the world’s largest solar plant in Arizona has all its solar panels built in Kedah, but we ourselves are not using it as much yet?
How about the fact that Malaysia ranks 8 in the world when it comes to polluting the oceans with plastics, at approximately 30kg per person per year?
Nothing is scarier than the truth. Lawrence Mignogna from the United States of America is in the country to talk on issues pertaining to global warming and its solutions. Lawrence’s first of a series of talks was held at the auditorium of Tenby International School recently. His aim is to educate young Malaysians first as they will be the future leaders of the country.
A total of 120 A-level and Year-10 students listened attentively as he highlighted the extensive problems and tragedies taking place all over the world using vivid and jaw-dropping imagery complete with historical data and case studies.
Being a part of The Climate Reality Project which is spearheaded by Ex U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Lawrence goes around the world to increase awareness on global warming and its sustainable countermeasures. Ipoh Echo was given the opportunity to do a one-on-one with the down-to-earth and well-informed Lawrence who hails from Long Island:
Ipoh Echo: You are a sound engineer-turned-environmental activist and writer. What inspired the change?
Lawrence: Things in the world aren’t right. If you look around, you don’t have to be a scientist to know it. If you go to Beijing and you are in the city, breathing in the smog and the pollution, it doesn’t take a scientist to know that this isn’t right. It’s not just China it’s all over the world.
Ipoh Echo: Which gives you more satisfaction, the music industry or tackling environmental issues?
Lawrence: I like it all!
Ipoh Echo: Have you met Al Gore? What were your impressions of him?
Lawrence: Yes. He is a very caring and honest guy. And he believes everything he says.
Ipoh Echo: What do you propose for changing the mindset and educating the public on environmental awareness, for example, with reference to the rubbish now polluting Ipoh?
Lawrence: First, it is education. People need to know the problem, know how serious it is. And talking about it and feeling like you can do something together. A lot of people, they look at the issues and they say, “Oh well, it is so big there’s nothing I can do about it.” But if you talk about it and work collectively towards solutions, there are easy things to do. For instance, it’s so easy to just not use plastic bags, just bring your own bag, it’s that easy.
Ipoh Echo: What is the take-home message of your talk?
Lawrence: To inspire young people to do more, to realise that they can do something about it, that they are the future and make them feel like they can be a part of this.
Ipoh Echo: You’ve been in Malaysia for 11 years, what is your favourite local food?
Lawrence: It’s hard to pick one, they are all so good!
Ipoh Echo: What is your perception of the level of environmental awareness in Malaysia?
Lawrence: There is not much awareness here, there is definitely room for improvement.
So Malaysians, Perakeans and Ipohites, let’s hark the wake up call.