Monday, 25 February 2008

Lights Out! aka EarthHour 2008

USM will be taking part in this global event to bring the issue of Global Warming to the hearts of the masses. Yes, we have all heard endless sound bites about global warming, the temperature will go up maybe 2 degrees and the sea level with rise 0.5 metres flooding the whole of Bangladesh, Maldives and lots of coastal areas around the World.

So, what can you do about it? WWF initiated Earth Hour in Sydney in 2007. More than 2 million people and 2,100 businesses took part. What did they do? Simple. Switch off the lights for one hour.

This year, it is going global. Cities around the World are invited to participate on 29 March 2008 at 8.00 pm local time. The idea is to create a cascading effect of lights going off around the World.

USM will be supporting Earth Hour at all the hostels in all three campuses. But we will do it at 9.00 pm instead. So, mark your calendar 29 March 2008, Saturday 9.00 pm. Switch off your lights for one hour.

For more info on EarthHour go to

p.s. we have succeeded in getting the Health and Engineering Campuses to stop using polystyrene containers as of 15th Feb 2008

Friday, 1 February 2008

Silence is not golden

Know this lady? She wrote Silent Spring in 1962 about a fictional town where the birds have stopped singing. Birds, insects ... they are all dead because of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially DDT. Needless to say, the chemical companies launched a (vicious) counter attack saying that her claims were not based on sound research. They even accused her of trying to destroy humanity - insects would take over the World - if we don't use pesticides. She died in 1964, of cancer. But now half a century later, there are still people who continue to try to discredit her work. Remember this name - Rachel Carson. She is credited with inspiring the environmental movement in the U.S. Read more from the New York Times of 1962/64. Trivia : did you know that the inventor of DDT received a Nobel Prize?

I was tipped off this morning about the Ministry of Health writing to TheStar in response to a suggestion by one reader for the Ministry to go on a roadshow to educate the public on the harm caused by polystyrene. I happy to note that the Ministry appreciates that our campaign is to green the campus. The larger goal is "reduce waste; reduce consumption". Various studies and tests were cited to show that there is no basis to ban polystyrene based on health risks. Alright, so they can't ban it but here's the fine print : "consumers should avoid using polystyrene containers for hot and oily food because it will promote the migration of styrene". I got the message loud and clear. You got it too I hope!

Yes, we always tell our audience that the research is not conclusive, but do we really need to wait ... another 20 years or more before the scientists can give us a definite answer? Now go back and read some more about the DDT merry-go-round. Hey, you ever heard of the McToxics Campaign?