|"THE man who takes the long view when thinking about Singapore's future, is once again training his sights on an important long-term issue: the environment.|
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's message to Singaporeans during Clean and Green Week, which began on Saturday: Look at the big picture and understand how the world's environment will change in half a century. Singaporeans must do their bit - now - to conserve the environment.
Speaking during a tree-planting ceremony in Queenstown on Sunday evening, he said that earlier that afternoon, he was in Orchard Road viewing a photo exhibition by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
The exhibition, which he found 'very instructive, quite terrifying', is a collection of 120 photographs highlighting the ecological destruction wrought by the over-exploitation of natural resources.
Mr Lee, the force behind Singapore's Garden City concept and decade-long drive to clean up the rivers here, was struck by the disproportionately high consumption of resources over the years and reeled off a list of figures to show this.
From 1950 to today, the human population has doubled to 6.5 billion, but production of goods and services has gone up seven times, while the amount of fish caught and meat produced has gone up five times.
Energy and oil consumed multiplied seven times and carbon emissions went up four times in the same period, resulting in a rising number of natural disasters around the world.
'If we go on at this rate, I believe mankind is in jeopardy...before 100 years, 50 years, there will be many problems,' he said.
One problem was the 'consume and throw away' society. The Americans, for example, consume 10 times more per person compared to Europeans or others.
India and China now have a combined population 12 times the size of the United States. When both countries start to consume as much as the Americans in 50 years' time, the problems will be intensified.
'We have to start worrying. Every year it gets a little worse. The leaders of the world have got to do something,' urged Mr Lee.
Singapore must do its bit as well - by having sustainable growth: 'Whatever we consume, do not increase the pressure on land and the environment.'
He also called on Singaporeans to be conscious of the environment and not pollute the water supply. Throwing rubbish into drains, for example, will pollute reservoirs such as the one in Marina, expected to be operational by 2009.
'Why must we do that? Don't do that; we are going to drink that water,' he told residents at Tanjong Pagar GRC.
Plans to open up Bedok Reservoir for recreation can be replicated in Marina, but it 'requires a population that is trained not to pollute its own environment'.
Nature Society president Geh Min was delighted that Mr Lee spoke about environmental issues.
'I always thought he was a man of vision and action. Hopefully, he can do this on an international level because when he talks, people listen and things move,' she said.
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