Friday, December 16, 2011

a frank post on the state of ignorance

Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse. African Proverb

I am flabbergasted to say the lest when I read this post on media censorship in the land of free speech. Discovery channel bought only 6 of the 7 eps of David Attenborough's latest, Frozen Planet, because the last ep talks about global climate change.
I don't know to congratulate BBC in anticipating this and limiting seditious material to the last ep to prevent the entire series from being banned or throw my hands up in despair when global climate change can be a sensitive to broach when so many other stuff is deemed open topics.
Go figure

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Want to know more about Raffles Lighthouse?

Chanced upon this art exhitbition that curated information on Raffles Lighthouse which I think is very well done! There will be nuggets of information that you wouldn't have realised about Raffles Lighthouse.

Dr Hass filmed the underwater life in Singapore in 1958, recalling the sidghts that he saw at Raffles lighthouse , "it was simply beautiful and enchanting. there were so much tropical sea animals and fish"

There's even a publication list which features our coral reproduction guru Dr James Guest (ah hem one publication is sadly missing)
This exhibition closes on 31st Dec 2011 I believe. Wonder if anyone wants to adopt the printed materials.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cars, Carparks and Parks, a matter of Perspective

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was reading the news on Rochor Center making way for a new expressway, and wondering about the fate of the 570 families and 190 retailers and eateries who will have to move out of Rochor Centre.


Hands up for those who wish to own one; know someone that fervently chase the monthly COE trends more than trends in global economy; Someone recently recounted to me about a friend's good fortune who actually gained a profit from selling their 2nd hand BMW. Who would have thought cars, which are traditionally a liability can turn in a handsome profit?

Environmental issues aside, I don't know if anyone took a long hard look at the amount of space that cars are occupying in land scarce Singapore. So I decided to see what I can find online.

According to LTA's figures on motor vehicle (MV) population by COE,  we have 945,829 motor vehicles in 2010 ** Assuming 2.5 x 5 m size for each carpark lot, this translates into 8.74 sq km of usable land area that stationary motor vehicles occupy.
What's 8.74 sq km to you?
To put things in perspective, Singapore's total land area is 694 sq km, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) occupies only 0.2% of our country's total area or 1.63 sq km, but it is amazingly rich in biodiversity with about 40% of the nation's flora and fauna.
BTNR together with Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) covers an area of approximately 30.43 sq km, according to National Parks Board. #

Maybe the idea that we have enough motor vehicles to cover 28% of CCNR isn’t shocking enough.
Singapore has a road system covering 3,356 kilometres which includes 161 kilometres of expressways according to Wikipedia.
Assuming the roads are single lane dual carriageways the width of 2.5m, and 3 lanes dual directional expressway, we have about 16 sq km in roads and 2.4 sq km in expressways. The new 21.5 km NSE that will be built at Rochor centre site might possibly occupy only 0.3225 sq km. But it represents a 1.75% increase in overall road area. Construction is planned to start at 2015, and end at 2020. Assuming that we have been growing our roads by 1.75% every 5 years and carparks by 3.18% yearly (average growth rate of MV for past decade), we would have created enough motor vehicle infrastructure that will be bigger than CCNR by 2017( 30.6 sq km ). By 2050, the combined area for carparks would have rivaled CCNR in area!(30.57 sq km)

I have to applaud LTA’s vision to ‘cut peak-hour travelling time by up to 30 per cent’ with the NSE project. But honestly, if I was in a rush for time, I would go public to save time, instead of waiting 9 years for the NSE and suffering 5 years of even more horrendous jams due to construction works. I understand that LTA is under pressure, e.g. they have been receiving “an average of 10 complaints a month from motorists about the Lornie Road jam in recent years.” However, to exhume 5,000 graves (inconveniencing 5,000 families) for the benefit of a vocal 120 (hopefully unique) individuals sounds a tad reactionary. Similarly, I hope that LTA did an excellent cost benefit analysis that fought for saving 30% of peak hour travel time of a group of car drivers of unknown size over the 570 families and 190 retailers.

The aforementioned are only the ones directly affected. You and me? We may not benefit from the time savings (especially since majority of Singaporeans do not drive a car) but we are going to pay for the construction and maintenance through taxes. Furthermore, all of these actions to improve traffic have to take land away from land scarce Singapore. I would hate to see the government regret only when citizens start staging the equivalent of to convert parking lots into temporary public parks. 
We need the outdoors:  local researchers in childhood myopia have advocated outdoor activity to reduce short sightedness.
For your personal health, unless you aim to do your 150 minutes of physical activity a week in a carpark, I think you would agree that parks are more important. I would urge everyone to reevaluate the true cost of smooth traffic, that whether your need to save 20 mins might affect others unfairly.

By the way, two cyclists are hit by a motor vehicle everyday@ and 16 pedal cyclists died in 2010.  Assuming that all the cyclists write to LTA to ask for bicycle lanes, we might have 59.5 complaints every month and some action (that hopefully doesn’t require moving dead people).

# On Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

**source: LTA 2011 motor vehicle population by COE report

 @ Ride of Silence is in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.

Transport in Singapore - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Notes: One might argue that most carparks are multi storey and it's unfair to calculate the area as such. I think my figures are only to be taken as a rough guide till some others improve on it, so I have adopted a KISS approach to the numbers, and I could have doubled the carpark areas, since most people have 2 carparks (home and workplace)
I have collated these numbers from the web, and as everyone knows, the web can be WRONG .. so ...

Clause for using info from this post.

While I try to provide precise and dependable data, statistics on this website are subject to revisions, made with the intent to accurately depict current trends.

As a consequence of change, I can provide no guarantee, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of furnished statistics at specific points in time.

Please use the statistics from the website knowing that you will need prior verification of facts. If I was wrong, it would be nice to let me know. The Prezi is p
ublished on may save a copy of it.

I shall not be held accountable for inaccurate depiction ensuing from disregarding this clause.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

OtterWatch: a baseline ecological knowledge of the species must first be established. And YOU can contribute to otter research in a ...See more

A project to consolidate otter sightings in Singapore.
Wild otter populations occur along our coastlines and mangroves. Two species currently exist in Singapore: namely the more common smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the smaller small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea).

In order to ensure their continued presence here, a baseline ecological knowledge of the species must first be established. And YOU can contribute to otter research in a ...See more

Friday, August 12, 2011

A commentary on Singapore's Natural Landscape

Left a comment on this post
But neglected to include this other link

Seeking Singapore Elsewhere

I am glad that you refound Singapore at Taiwan... but perhaps you have yet to find out the natural appeal aspect of Sg.

So, that was my philosophy about living in Singapore: it is a plain bore with no natural landscapes and original produce.

I think 'original' produce is hard to claim when you are a state in SEA, where neighbouring countries can do the same at a bigger scale, our vegetation today actually tells of previous farming (rubber) exploits which weren't unsuccessful ONLY because we have a barren land ( any army guy can tell you the effort it takes to bash across the dense vegetation in Lim Chu Kang)

true we do lack looming hills or mountainous landscapes which will no doubt make for a great photo.
and we do not have a BIG bunch of endemic species (that you can't find elsewhere in SEA)

BUT we are situated in the tropics, and I too 'refound' Singapore when making a visit to Kew Gardens, London, it was only there that I realised how our natural tree diversity easily beats that of temperate countries but to everyone , a green tree is a tree but coniders and maple leaves are prettier as a tree species. But yet Kew Garden's collection is impressive because of the palms and plants they have collected from the tropics and house in a (very likely expensive to maintain greenhouse)

I do hope you will find the natural landscapes of Singapore fascinating one day before we lose them to urbanisation and it's too late.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

11 Tips For Eco-friendly Trail Photography


Sent to you by Kevin via Google Reader:


via Digital Photography School by Guest Contributor on 9/03/11

A Guest Post by Aaron Barlow from Delineations of Eye.

Are you thinking of hitting the trail for a grand adventure? Want to fill your camera with hundreds of beautiful shots of the great outdoors? I have some tips to keep that adventure eco-friendly and help ensure you have locations to photograph for years to come.

Image by Rick Harrison

Let's start out with something that everyone has heard before but can't be said enough (mostly because it's catchy)

1. Take Photos, Leave Only Footprints

Of course! Simple enough, right? Essentially don't leave with anything you didn't come with.

2. Make a List

Make a list of what you will be taking. Making a list puts those items in your mind and helps you not forget anything you may need. That's the obvious. However, it also helps you remember everything you brought with you! Leaving a lens – God forbid – a filter, or any other equipment behind is not only bad for the bunnies; it's probably expensive and let's not forgot frustrating! 

3. Leave It Cleaner

Leave the trail cleaner than you found it. For me, this normally means bringing a spare grocery bag strapped to my pack for callously discarded bottles, cans, and various other refuse. It sometimes takes a bit extra work depending on the gear I have with me, but getting hi-fives from other appreciative photogs and hikers is well worth it.

4. Remember The Snacks

If you're going out on any trail for an extended period of time, it's always a good idea to bring a snack. Just remember snacks have packaging that can end up on the trail. I can't tell you how many times I have seen wrappers blown right out of people's hands. I recommend using reusable Tupperware containers. No wrappers, easy to pack and handle, and you are far less likely to leave it behind. 

5. Bottles

You should always take water on the trail. ALWAYS. This tip though is more of an odd one that is just my personal preference. I find it better to take reusable bottles. Why? Well, why pay for a bottle of water when it's FREE from the tap! Not to mention, just like the Tupperware, you're less likely to leave it behind.

6. Man's Best Friend

If you take your best friend… the furry one. OK, if you take your dog with you on trail, keep it leashed and by your side. Dogs left to roam unleashed can cause pretty serious unseen damage to the trail and surrounding eco-system. Not to mention it can be stressful for some to come across a strange unleashed dog. Oh, and please ensure you clean up after your friend. Add doggy bags to your list!

7. Look Out For Hitchhikers

This is probably the number one thing many hikers and outdoor photogs do not think about. It is a sad fact that these days there are many invasive plants in locations ripe for photography. These plants love to hitch a ride on your boots which you may inadvertently transplant someplace else. Always inspect your shoes (including underneath), socks, and other gear before leaving the trail.  If you brought a pet with you, and even if you followed tip 6, It's a good idea to inspect them for hitchhikers also.

8. Watch Your Step

Watch your step! That plant or flower you just walked on could have been another photographers dream shot, or at least an inspiration. This is usually achieved by staying on trail. I know, as a photographer you may have the urge to run off with the perfect shot in your mind, just remember to look down!
Many of the locations I go shooting are often environmentally sensitive areas, so even stepping on one plant can have a major impact. In many locations you can also get slapped with a steep fine for going off trail and damaging the landscape.

9. Animal Interactions

Keep your interactions with animals to a minimum, especially the big ones! Photograph them; enjoy their presence and natural beauty, just leave it at that. Wild animals are wild, keep them that way. I suppose it may be tempting to try novel approaches at getting that shot – like the guy who was recently arrested for baiting animals – be smart, don't try that. If one decides you look tastier than the bait, don't say I didn't warn you!

10. No Smoking Please

Don't worry, not going to preach about its health effects. I will say though that smoking on a trail is potentially dangerous when you think of it as a major fire hazard. It's better to wait till you're someplace less susceptible to fire.

11. Keeping Water Clean

This means that you or your best friend should not have any emergencies within 40 yards of a water source. Strange tip right? Well, think of it this way; animals drink that water and depending on the water source, you may eventually as well.
I hope these tips help you when you're out in the wild on a trail, and remember, if you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.  We always love learning something new!

Check out more of Aaron Barlow's work at Delineations of Eye.

Post from: Digital Photography School - Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.


11 Tips For Eco-friendly Trail Photography


Things you can do from here:

New Smithsonian database of wildlife photos captured with automated cameras
Xeni Jardin at 6:02 AM Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011

The Smithsonian today launched a new searchable website,, that presents more than 202,000 wildlife photos taken with camera traps--automated cameras with motion sensors. These images "record the diversity and very often the behavior of animals around the world." Launch announcement here.