Connexion: Green Lane for climate warnings

When nature calls, where do you go? Old town is taking the right steps as more eateries green their toilets with potted plants and raise hygiene standards to earn five-star toilet rating.

But old town can do far more greening. It has a Concubine Lane — sexy name for a street with mostly pasar malam fashion accessories on weekdays and weekends. Very plastic. Old town should have a Green Lane in sync with the “Ipoh Bersih, Hijau dan Maju” slogan displayed on giant billboards.

Green Lane means a street dedicated to nature where you can buy organic products at eco-friendly prices and get climate change information from exhibits, standees, and takeaway leaflets. Contrary to rumours, paper isn’t eco-hostile as it is biodegradable and manufactured from specially grown commercial trees.

It’s a street with no plastic fashion accessories or plastic bags in sight, but lots of natural green and a prominent stage space for green heroes to perform skits that dramatise the risks to Malaysia’s survival posed by climate change.

Old town has the right feel as heritage museums abound featuring Perakian lifestyles in the early and mid-20th century. Seniors will remember that, back in the 1960s, Ipoh houses needed only ceiling fans. Up till the mid-1970s, most cars had no air-conditioning. But from the late 1970s, you could feel a rising heat.

The Economist newsmagazine showed on one of its recent covers a graphical illustration of global average temperatures year by year since 1850, using blue stripes to denote cooler years and red stripes to denote warmer years. From the year 2000, there were just red stripes getting progressively darker.

Twenty years of unabated global temperature rise, and still rising. It has permanently melted large tracts of Himalayan, Antarctic and Arctic ice. But in Malaysia, only green heroes talk about climate change at lunch or dinner. There’s plenty of ice in the fridge.

The general lack of concern is due to a psychological condition known as frog boiling. Just as frogs in a cooking pot get used to the rising heat, so too we adjust to warming as global temperatures are rising just marginally from one year to the next.

Frog boiling cripples our response to climate change, and this effect is very evident in the losing battle against killer mosquitoes. Dengue cases by end-2019 are set to reach an all-time high ever in Malaysia. The mosquito is a tiny home and neighbourhood pest that has defeated us. From dengue inaction to climate inaction, what lies ahead may be a climate-change-connected calamity.

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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