Friday, 20 February 2009

We Still Don't Get It

I thought I would have great morning. I dressed appropriately - cotton T-shirt, jeans and my old pair of shoes. The intention was to do some exploring in our Durian Valley. There was to be a press conference at our EcoHub about the sighting a rarely seen migratory bird named Malayan Night Heron in our Durian Valley followed by tree-planting around the valley.

When I got there I was told VC wanted me to compute how much CO2 the 120 new trees would absorb. Yah, OK. Those trees were donated by the Forestry Department and reportedly valued at about RM20,000. Fantastic. So we had the press conference and the briefing and Anwar Fazal told some fascinating stories about Ipoh men who must marry Kulim ladies. Apparently the Ipoh tree has a poison (used by the orang asli in their blowpipes). And the antidote for that comes from the Kulim tree.

And then I decided to get out slightly ahead of the crowd for the tree planting. Then I noticed the other side of the building and walked through it. On the way out, I peeked into the pantry and saw a whole crate full of plastic bags. Inside the bags was packages of food for the guests. I was flabbergasted. Why all this plastic bags, I asked the staff? Didn't get a satisfactory reply. I was getting irritated.

I walked out of the building and there on the table was another big stack of blue plastic bags with food for the guests. I pointed it out the the PR people - "the organisers did it!" was the reply. By this time I had lost interest in the tree-planting. I really hope the Press picked it up and write about it. "EcoHub - No Yet Eco-friendly"

In fairness, the guys of the EcoTeam are a truly dedicated bunch and I take my hat off to them. They have done a splendid job cleaning up the Durian Valley of rubbish and now trying to create or extend our urban forest. This is a humble old building which has been given a new lease of life. I look forward to the Eco Trail they are working on.

This is the fringe of the Durian Valley where the sewarage plant is. They used to dump construction debris here. I made several complaints to the very top but they persisted in the dumping. This morning I saw a couple of excavators levelling the ground and planting grass. I was really hoping that they would plant trees and extend the Durian Valley instead of a grass valley. But all the same, thank you, Jabatan Pembangunan for finally cleaning up the area.

This was my ultimate nightmare - huge pile of plastic food.

I am not sure whether I was the only one who walked to the EcoHub. But I am very certain that all the top management who were there including the VC and three DVCs were dropped off in their cars. And their offices are just 3 minutes walk from EcoHub. Talk about going carbon neutral. Yes, I know, it's hot, you'll sweat and become smelly. Go take bath after that. You can't have your cake and eat it.

P.S. Whoever is in charge of that food catering, please don't come and tell me you don't know or you don't have any control over the caterer. This week alone, I spend several hours talking to at least three groups of students and answering emails about how to make their events more green or sustainable.

P.S.S. My good mood is back. It has just started raining after, what? 3 or 4 weeks without rain? Maybe I will go run in the rain.


intan said...

Dr..I like your honesty and spirit. keep it up!

not easy to become eco-friendly but not impossible too. always try the best as much as we can.

Abe said...

we'd better walk the talk.

Anonymous said...

Dr.,why now is the trend for university to count how much carbon that can be offset while planting tree and have a press conference to announce to all that we have done something to the environment?

i thought planting tree is a very common activity. another, to become carbon neutral so we need to buy carbon credits to offset our carbon? Don't you think that all these are another feel good greenwashing?

Michael Peter Foo said...

May be we should just educate the benefit of exercise via walking and cycling rather than travel in a such short distance by car in campus.WALK the talk.

Omid Reza Saadatian said...

Dr, Yoy are mentioning a very hot issue which is caring environment in reallity rather than words.