By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – To guard against a ‘perfect storm’, Singapore has announced it will spend almost $294 million (USD) to upgrade and maintain its drains as well as investing another $7.35 million into the study of sea level rise and try to decrease the negative effects of climate change over the island-city state.
“The warning is loud and unmistakable: We must act now, or we may well face the ultimate threat to human survival… the end of life as usual,” said Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli, during last week’s annual Partners for the Environment Forum.
According to Zulkifli, the ‘perfect storm’ could lead the small country to be engulfed by sea water if action is not taken.
Although the country has contributed little to cause global warming when compared to other countries in the world, it has already taken measures to lessen possible consequences of climate change, said the Minister, including intensive tree-planting program.
Also the development of four national programs to protect its water supply from sudden shocks and the decision to build the new Changi Airport Terminal 5 at higher platform levels.
“What climate science is piecing together, foretells the calamity that will befall the world if we all do too little too late,” said the official.
In addition to spending more resources to maintain the island’s drains, say officials, Singapore’s Centre for Climate Research Singapore will invest over US$7.35 million in a National Sea Level Research Program over the next five years.
The program will seek to better understand sea levels around Singapore as well as strengthen the country’s capabilities in climate science research. Singapore’s minister also says that the government needs the help of the private sector and of private citizens in this fight against climate change.
“We need everyone to play their part and as one nation, overcome the existential challenge that climate change poses, which can threaten our way of life,” he told the audience.
According to Minister Zulkifli, Singapore’s sea levels are projected to rise by up to one meter by 2100, although scientists warn that this could occur earlier if ice sheets melt more rapidly than estimated or if ice shelves in Antarctica were to collapse.
Last week researchers at the Crowther Labs in Zurich warned that Singapore was among the cities to face ‘unprecedented’ consequences due to climate change by 2050, including more severe flooding and droughts.
“It is a change in climate conditions that is likely to increase the risk of flooding and extreme drought,” said Jean-Francois Bastin, lead researcher of the study, published in the PLOS journal. “It is unknown conditions,” he adds.
According to Bastin “the fate of major tropical cities remains highly uncertain because many tropical regions will experience unprecedented climate conditions”.
“Climate change sets us a monumental, inter-generational task – how to ensure that our little red dot does not disappear below the waves,” said Minister Zulkifli. “Climate science tells us it is not a matter of ‘if’ the sea level will rise but a matter of ‘when’ and ‘how much’.”