How to be a climate change gamechanger

Turn on the TV, scroll through your social media news feed or just take a walk outside. Whether it’s news anchors discussing droughts, a celebrity talking about rising sea levels or just the sweltering heat we’re experiencing here in sunny Singapore, the effects of climate change are undeniable.

Climate change has altered our global landscape, and is an existential issue for Singapore,  changing life as we know it.

Here are some ways climate change is affecting Singapore, and what you can do to help.

4 Profound Effects of Climate Change

1) Sinking cities and rising sea levels

Rising sea levels endanger various cities in the region and around the globe, from Jakarta and Texas to Venice and Bangkok. 

Low-lying Singapore also faces a risk—By 2100, we could experience a mean sea level rise of up to one metre. To adapt to climate change, we are raising the minimum reclamation levels for newly reclaimed land, and looking into incorporating a variety of nature-based solutions. We may even spend up to $100 billion in coastal defences like dykes and polders along our coastlines. 

2) Floods and extreme weather

Droughts, bushfires and floods are just some of the potential hazards that come with a warming planet. These threats pose risks not just to humans, but to wildlife and entire ecosystems as well.  

Closer to home, Singapore may be prone to more intense rainfall and face higher flood risks. The Stamford Detention Tank and Stamford Diversion Canal are just some measures we’ve undertaken to better protect Singapore against floods.

3) Food shortages

With the modern-day conveniences of supermarkets, refrigerators and all-you-can-eat buffets, it’s hard to imagine that climate change could ever cause us to go hungry.

But the numbers tell a different tale.  The United Nations estimates that there’ll be 9.7 billion people on this planet by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and climate change is expected to make the issue even more challenging.

Drought, heating, flooding and superstorms are all warning signs of a warming planet, and may impact everything from cattle ranches in Australia to rice paddies in Thailand. 

Singapore currently imports more than 90% of its food from foreign countries, making us vulnerable to disruptions of our supplies from overseas.  

To help combat this problem, Singapore has implemented a broad strategy that employs the use of three food baskets: Diversifying the countries from which we import our food, intensifying efforts to grow an agri-food ecosystem in Singapore and supporting our local companies’ efforts to grow overseas and export back to Singapore.

4) Water security

Climate change leads to extreme weather conditions which can cause flooding and droughts that jeopardise nations’ water supplies. This can adversely affect rivers, lakes and freshwater sources all across the globe.

Melting Himalayan glaciers have impacted Asian rivers like the Yangtze and Indus River, which over a billion people rely on for drinkable water, hydroelectric power and farming. 

Closer to home, Linggiu Reservoir in Johor—an important source of water for Singapore—fell to below 50% in September 2019 in part due to dry weather. 

To address this, Singapore has built a robust and diversified supply of water with “Four National Taps”, which include water from local reservoirs, imported water, high-grade reclaimed water (which you may know as NEWater) and desalinated water.

Game for change—3 steps you can take

If you’re feeling concerned about climate change, there’s a lot you can do as an individual to be a game changer. Here are three steps you can take to make a difference.

Increase your air-conditioner temperature by 1oC

Increasing the temperature setting on your air-conditioner leads to less energy usage. Fun fact: For every degree raised, you can save approximately $15 a year. 

Reduce your shower time by 2 minutes 

Reducing your shower time has numerous benefits—You’ll save water, stop your impatient spouse or mother from seeing red, and even save money. Reducing your shower time by 2 minutes can save close to 14 litres of water.

Practise the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle 

We’ve all heard of the 3Rs, but here’s a handy breakdown of how you can apply them.

Reduce: Don’t buy more than what you really need—This applies to both food and clothes shopping!

Reuse: Take a reusable bag with you on shopping trips, opt for reusable cutlery over disposable plastics, and upcycle used clothing instead of throwing it out.

Recycle: Recycle what you can’t reuse or repair, but remember to #RecycleRight. Rinse your plastic bottles and containers before disposing of them!

Bonus Round for Climate Change Champs

Got your 3 steps down? Here are some other ways to go green and up your game.

    1. Use energy and water-efficient appliances: Keep an eye out for the green or blue ticks on appliances like refrigerators and washing machines—The more ticks, the more earth-friendly (or energy and water-efficient) the appliance.
    1. Switch to LED lightbulbs: An LED bulb uses 75% less electricity than an incandescent lightbulb, and will last a whole lot longer.
    1. Walk, cycle or take public transport: You’ll keep fit by walking and cycling, and save money by taking the bus or train.  Check out this link for more info on how we’re greening our transport!
    1. Eat local: Keep an eye out for locally-grown produce when you go grocery shopping. You’ll be able to tell that your groceries were proudly grown in Singapore by checking for the label below, which will be appearing on food products by August 2020.

 Local produce tends to be fresher and have a lower carbon footprint, and climate-change champs will be able to easily identify food from our local farmers with this brand-new logo. 



Strengthening flood protection in Singapore

It’s easy to be disheartened when one hears about the impacts of climate change on our environment.

On TV, we’re confronted with the devastation of fires in the Amazon and Australia, as well as the severe flooding that has hit Venice and Jakarta. Films like An Inconvenient Truth and The Day After Tomorrow run the gamut from factual to fantastically frightening, but hammer home the anxiety we’re feeling about the consequences of harming Mother Nature.


Closer to home, Singapore has experienced its own share of extreme weather too, such as  intense rainfall events that lead to more frequent flash floods, and prolonged dry spells that threaten our water security. It is estimated that it may cost $100 billion dollars over the next century to protect ourselves against rising sea levels in the future.

Saving Semakau — One island’s role in managing Singapore’s waste

Can all of Singapore’s trash fit on one little island? The answer’s yes, but not for long!

The Little Landfill That Could

Think of Singapore’s outlying islands, and you’ll probably imagine petting the tortoises on Kusu island, diving at Pulau Hantu, or camping on Saint John’s Island. But have you heard of Pulau Semakau?

Located eight kilometres off Singapore’s Southern Coast, this little island is home to Singapore’s only landfill—a 3.5 square-kilometre space that holds all the trash of Singapore’s 5.6 million people.


That’s no mean feat, considering that as a nation we generated 7.7. million tonnes of waste in 2018. Imagine just a fraction of that weight filling the Semakau Landfill each year, and you can probably imagine why our waste problem is piling up.

So, how does one little island hold all that trash? We delve into what makes this ingenious landfill tick, and clear up some misconceptions you might have about Pulau Semakau.