Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
That morning, Clarence gave me an SOS call and started me off on a series of frantic phone calls to people who can help. Mr Leong Kwok Peng of nearby Diary Farm Adventure Centre responsed most expeditiously. He collected the specimen near Lamp post no. 142 within minutes of my call. He took photos and later called staff from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to take it off his hands.
Thanks Clarence, thanks Kwok Peng, for your concern and speedy action. The colugo may have died, but because of you, some invaluable data (which could well be revealed by expert studies of a rare fresh carcass) did not die along with it. Interestingly, the first people I called - RMBR (Raffles Museum) - turned down my offer of a fresh specimen.
[Photo credit: Leong Kwok Peng]
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Excerpts: Seeing an “emerging environmental tragedy of unprecedented proportions,” Speth says the book’s aim is to describe a non-socialist alternative to capitalism. That alternative includes moving to a post-growth society and environmentally honest prices, curbing consumerism with a new ethic of sufficiency, rolling back growing corporate control of American political life, and addressing the enormous economic insecurity of the average person.
“My point of departure is the momentous environmental challenge we face,” Speth says. “But today’s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control.” Speth examines how these seemingly separate areas of public concern are intertwined and calls upon citizens to mobilize spiritual and political resources for transformative change on all three fronts.
Enter here to listen to the author as he speaks about the challenges we face today and how real transformative change can come about.
More about the book at: http://www.thebridgeattheendoftheworld.com/
Friday, October 24, 2008
'How appropriate!' - I thought - abstract but absolutely dramatic! It brings to bear the 'shit-house' of a dwelling place we have built for ourselves through consumeristic wanton-ness and consequential waste in an otherwise sustainable earth.
To be true, our 'jamban' may be small (considering how insignificant the human species is in the scheme of earthly life), but our self-destructive hunger for more leaves no corner of the earth unfouled. And this is exactly what modern society tells us to do day-in-day-out: it tells us to CONSUME more and more, BUY more and more!
The following short film by Leo Murray and an essay by James Gustave Speth - 'Environmental Failure: A Case for a new Green Politics' - tell us what we CAN and MUST do. Simply put, we are being called to revolutionary actions beyond our personal footprint-watch.
Short Film: Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip
James Gustave Speth: 'Environmental Failure: A Case for a new Green Politics'
Here's an excerpt from the short film (written by Leo Murray):
"There is no great mystery about what we need to do to reduce emissions in line with the science; we simply need to consume less.
But that is out of the question in a society which is founded on the ever-increasing consumption of materials and energy.
Nobody has all of the answers; but we do know that this is not the only way to live, and given that it is almost certainly going to kill us all, we had better start looking urgently at some of the alternatives. It is now very clear that in order to actually win the fight against climate change, making big changes to the way we each live our own lives is not going to be enough; we’re also going to have to actively confront powerful vested interests who will stop at nothing to prevent the changes we need from taking place. We have to be more than just consumers.
These are extraordinary times. Preventing runaway global warming is the single most important task in all of human history – and it has fallen to us to do it. If we don’t, then everything else we work to achieve in our lives will be destroyed, or become meaningless. Those who came before us didn't know about this problem, and those who come after will be powerless to do anything about it. But for us, there's still time! We'd better get a move on though."
CONSUMING LESS - it is the only way to go.
Read also New Scientist: Endless Growth is Folly
Sunday, October 12, 2008
John (above) is one of the homeschool kids who attended my workshop. He likes to share his learning experience with all his friends. [Thanks John! I am glad you enjoyed the workshop.] This is what he wrote:
What Uncle Joe showed us:
Uncle Joe showed us a plant called “Doodle”(Sounds like noodle; and looks like yellow noodles).He also showed us a type of fern that can make a silvery white mark on things. It is called Silver Fern.
What we did:
We went for a treasure hunt and I found the following plants: Sea Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Barrel Cactus, Bromelid, Kalanchoe, Sundew, Dischidia and Pitcher Plant.
Leaves can be oval shape, heart shape, round shape, sword shape, fan shape, oblong shape, spoon shape, toothed, feathery and lobed. The Pitcher Plant (also called monkey cup) and the Sundew are CARNIVOROUS!! Under the dead leaves of the Bird’s Nest Fern, there may be BATS.
What I saw and how I feel:
I saw a water skater, a LARGE SPIDER and a strange insect. I feel very happy because I learned a lot of things and I saw lots of INSECTS.
Other Information: 1) Leaf Workshop 'Leaves You Captive' 2) How to pot sundew and venus fly-trap from culture.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Meet Koo Ning, Samantha and Phoebe! They are all cheerful homeschoolers and happy learners.
Koo Ning has many friends who are already Young Writers. Beside taking part in dance performances, she wants to be a writer too.
Samantha and Phoebe are sisters. They have a natural flair for writing. I am particularly pleased by the fact that they were inspired by Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa to start blogging.
[Photo above: Samantha (in pink) and Phoebe (green-striped shirt) at Pulau Ubin]
Here are their new blogs:
Koo Ning's Swimming Bird
May I invite you into the wonderful world of Koo Ning, Samantha and Phoebe!
Uncle Joe : )
Friday, September 12, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
With the aid of as many as twenty plants, the workshop showcases leaves of various shapes and sizes, colours and textures. Specimens include the leafless Dodder Plant and plants with leaves that float, climb, help pollination, produce nectar, provide homes for insects, etc.
[Photo above: Drosera spathulata, a native sundew of Malaysia]
[Photo above (by Richmond): Dionaea muscipala, Venus Fly-trap caught a fly]
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Why 'uncovered' and not 'discovered'? Well, it's because I have long known the tree in Serangoon (Rosyth Road) but its identity has eluded me till now; it's fruiting! I don't usually come this way, so I might have missed some previous fruiting spells if any. But yesterday's encounter was simply MAGIC... 'uncovered'! : )
It's a tree of back mangrove and coastal hills. In former days, it must have been found everywhere in Singapore, not just primary rainforest. I bet, if we look hard enough, there is a high chance some can be found in the relatively undisturbed southern islands of Singapore today, e.g. Pulau Senang or Pawai, and not discounting outbacks like the Western Catchment (which is off-limit to the public) and Pulau Ubin.
The fruit contains a sticky pulp and favoured as gum to the extend of being introduced into the villages of old in Ponggol, Changi and Chua Chu Kang. One name given to it attests to its gummy property - Birdlime Tree. The other common English name is Fragrant Manjack. A quick chat with the taoist nun living in the adjacent temple revealed it was planted by the temple's keeper more than 30 years ago.
Literature also tells of a tree which is highly diverse in its leaf shape and colour of its fruit. In exceptional circumstances it has also been found to thrive as a woody climber in Malaysia. Not surprisingly, three 'species' were previously recognised instead of one - all due to taxonomic confusion arising from wrong identification. It does make my present 'un-covery' all the more satisfying, doesn't it? : )
For those tree-lovers out there, don't wait too long to pay homage to this tree. More photos are found here in my Companion Guide to Wayside Trees of Malaya.
In the meantime, I have collected seeds which I will donate to the Singapore Botanic Garden and yes... Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve! Yeh!! This is definitely a native tree of cultural significance to be preserved.
Joe Lai : )
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
We should look no further than the backyard of the Singapore Zoo in Mandai to know what is habitat destruction. This is where the zoo and other interested parties are invading a forest with the construction and promotion of a spa retreat for tourists and zoo visitors alike.
We may not have mega-fauna favourites like the Orang Utans, but the many shy and secretive animals that we have (including our leopard cats, pangolins, etc) deserve a safe and undisturbed corridor for their movement across the forest blocks surrounding the zoo. They certainly do not need the spa retreat.
While the zoo is preaching loud the dire effect of habitat destruction atop the Singapore Flyer with Orang Utans in hand, they certainly do not practise it.
We should be utterly disgusted when the Singapore Zoo preached, 'Broadcasting the conservation message through the juxtaposition of the orang utans against the backdrop of the city skyline serves to remind urban planners, developers and plantation owners that the orang utan habitats are fragile areas and, once destroyed, almost impossible to replace'.
Read more about the issue of the Spa Retreat invading Mandai Forest here: Forest Science Crapped in Singapore
The above quote by the Singapore Zoo is part of its response to Mr Chang Qizhong's online letter 'Putting Orang Utans on Singapore Flyer Bad Move'.
Read the full report here: 'Orang Utans at Singapore Flyer - Zoo Clarifies'
and Orang Utans Frightened on Singapore Flyer.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Let's walk the alleys of our memories. Allow priceless things like a tree or a spoon to touch us. Let's reward ourselves a piece of heaven here before it's too late. Happy Ardour Day!
Read on my friends: Ardor Day; Let Them Count the Ways - by Joseph Huff-Hannon
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I came across this sickening sight in an interior deco shop inside Cathay on 26 May 2008.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Yes, the contractor of Kenwood Property was disposing the stump of a recently felled tree! (photo of stump below taken on 19 May 2008)
APPEAL BY GABRIEL
I am looking to save a beautiful fruit bearing mango tree which is facing the threat of being cut down to serve the interests of the Management Committee here in Bedok Market Place in Simpang Bedok. I believe this estate belongs to your company and according to an NParks officer I spoke to, only the owner of the land can have a final say in the matter. Thus I am appealing for your assistance to prevent the unnecessary cutting down of a tree which provides much needed shade in a Singapore that is getting hotter by the day.I have attached a copy of the protest letter I wrote to the Management Committee, which will give you a quick understanding of the situation.
You can also refer to this web page for mor info and pictures. http://flyingfishfriends.blogspot.com/2008/05/offering-help-to-tree-on-vesak-day.html
Hoping to hear from you soon.
FAR EAST ORGANISATION replied, saying it no longer manages Bedok Market Place (aka Bedok Shopping Complex) on its own. It will, however, forward Gabriel's concerns to its appointed estate management agency for response.
COUNTER-RESPONSE FROM GABRIEL
Thank you for your quick response. I know that the estate is runned by Kenwood Property which was appointed by your Corporation. However the chairman appointed by Kenwood practises a steam roller management style. This has created significant unhappiness on the part of owners and tenants here. My main and urgent mission is to save a mature tree from a totally unnecessary destruction.
The Management has already cut down one mature tree. This has even created unhappiness for the owner of a private house next to it. This tree was providing shade for the house owner for at least 15 years. The management claim that that tree was breaking up the tarmac of the car lot next to it. I have seen this to be true but the management could have save a car lot for the tree's roots to grow into. It would have taken at least another 20 years fot it to outgrow that. By then the lease on the land here would be near its end and it would be another chapter in that tree's life. Unfortunately for that tree, the management here wrote the last chapter for it. I understand that the management has the right to do what it wants on its own land. However it should for the sake of neighbourliness, a green environment and the fight against global warming do what is right.
It may be too late for one tree, but I will do whatever I can to prevent another tree from being cut down. All I am asking at this point is for a stay order on the cutting down of the tree until the next AGM which is within the next two months. I am hoping by then that there will be enough agitated tenants and owners to make a difference to the final outcome of that meeting. I believe that your Corporation being the employer of Kenwood Property would be able to make this happen. I am aware that one tree may seem insignificant.but I am hoping that Far East despite being a giant of a corporation can also be personal enough to make a difference to the many little people here who cares about their environment.
Hoping for some good news from you.
The National Parks Board (Nparks) has informed us that their role is purely advisory where trees of private properties are concerned. In the case of Bedok Shopping Complex, Nparks can only advise Kenwood Property and Far East Organisation on the right thing to do but powerless if it choses to exercise its right to do whatever it wants within its own property.
As you can see from Gabriel's letters (above), he is trying very hard to convince Kenwood Property and Far East Organisation to see what is right - for the tree - for the environment - and for the people - residents, tenants and patrons. You and I can also help!!
What You can Do:
1) Write a simple appeal to Kenwood Property and Far East Organisation, and
2) Tell your family and friends about the issue at Bedok Shopping Complex.
Please find the email addresses and phone number below!
1) Shopping Complex Owner - Far East Organisation: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Property Management - Kenwood Property Consultants Pte Ltd: Tel 63372516 About Kenwood Property and its affiliation to Keng Soon Group
3) Write to The National Parks Board's Feedback to seek its assistance on this issue at Bedok Shopping Complex.
Don't let another tree end up like this... Please HELP... thank you! : )