Localising climate change — issue #26

Localising climate change — issue #26


It was 2017, and I had just landed in Singapore after five years living in the United States. The thick afternoon air embraced me, then tried to squeeze the very life out of me. Welcome home, indeed.

It took me months to get used to the tropics, but a thought kept nagging at me—how is it so hot these days? I remember wondering this aloud to my parents one day. Their response? "No lah, it's always been this hot. Don't talk nonsense." 

Reading Bella's article on how different generations experience global warming, I'm ashamed it took me this long to realise I wasn't imagining things. The data don't lie: Singapore is heating up fast, along with the rest of the globe—and those who live in Asia will be among the hardest hit.

According to the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report: shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels, and more intense floods, droughts, cyclones, and heat extremes are coming for us. Most of us will see this firsthand, and it will be devastating. Untold numbers will struggle with food security, be forced out of their homes and countries, see disasters and instability—and perish.

It's natural to feel powerless in the face of this. Still, climate change ultimately demands collective change. Whether that's using your votes, voices, and dollars, or even joining and sharing about a climate movement, we all need to stand firm together.

At Kontinentalist, we believe in the power of stories to gather people towards shaping a different world. Regardless of who or where you are, I think that's a great place to start. What stories are you telling about the climate, whether at the dinner table or in quiet moments alone? How do they change our warming world?

Let us know. We'd love to hear them—and share some of our own, too.

a memoji of our editor kenneth
Stories header
an illustration of high rise buildings interconnected by ladders. Small human figures are seen climbing up the ladder, and against all these is a big burning sun, and scattered around the buildings are trees.
Add trees to the list of features found in richer neighbourhoods, on top of hipster coffee joints. In cities where every square foot is precious, greenery is a luxury that few can afford, literally. But as climate change turns greenery into a life and death issue, we must learn to make this former luxury more accessible and inclusive. 
an animation with the title what does global warming spell for your children/your parents/your grandparents/and your generation. As the words flip, figures from each generation appears, coloured from dark green to dark red, as a way to incorporate the climate stripes visualisation.
Not to throw shade, but why isn't everyone onboard with addressing climate change—arguably the most pressing issue facing us earth-dwellers? Well, perhaps one factor is that each generation's experience of global warming across their lifetimes is different—which affects their perception of its urgency. 
an illustration of a building showing rooms with aircon while industrial plants are spewing smoke outside of it
Are we doomed to repeat the cycle of cooling ourselves while burning up the climate with our air-con usage? There is hope, and it comes in the form of sustainable cooling.
announcement header
poster about a festival happening in singapore called creating narratives for change happening from 3-25 september.
Learn how to create novel and engaging stories about your community by leveraging data tools—all from our head honcho, Pei Ying, in her virtual workshop: Data Powered Narratives!
Sign up for Pei Ying's workshop
Digital Storytelling in Southeast Asia talk by National University of Singapore (NUS)

Culture is messy and alive—so why turn that into charts? At least that's what our senior writer, Bella, wants to persuade you to do with her talk, hosted by NUS Library. Be sure to catch the other panelists too: Harriet from Synthesis, Alex from Narrative and Play Research Studio, and GG from Punch Up, who all have great insights to share on digital storytelling in our region.  
Low-maintenance trees that form broad crowns and hardly bear fruit, like the rain tree, are planted alongside Singapore’s expressways. It’s a matter of safety—imagine papayas bouncing down our roads!—and realistically, we can’t close down our expressways too often for maintenance. With their impressive crowns and stature, these trees double up as visual screens to help reduce road noise transmission.
When the sixth IPCC report dropped, we knew we had to say something. As a region, Asia is especially vulnerable to climate change, even as its rapid economic development threatens to accelerate emissions, and we wanted to find out just how global warming will hit our region.

The report is a behemoth, but it (thankfully) comes with technical and regional summaries. Looking at what lies in store for Asia—more frequent and severe extreme events and conditions, in brief—we felt the need for some hope. The report says that 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is inevitable, but we can do so much to stop things from getting worse.

Can we fly less, miss meat, and pick the fan instead of the air-con? Certainly. But climate change needs more than just individual action—so we decided to share some ways we can band together against business as usual. Check the Insta post here, and let us know in the comments how you're joining the good fight too! 
a memoji of our editor kenneth
↘︎ Even though humans are terrific at taking up space, we make up a mere 0.01 percent of all biomass on Earth when combined. Take a look at how we compare to other species on Earth in this visual feast by science illustrator Mark Belan.

↘︎ While everyone else's computers are mining for bitcoins, use yours for (ahem) social good by scraping data using Github Actions

↘︎ As climate disasters become more commonplace, real-time collaborative mapping tools like Mapus could help communities plan and distribute resources. 

↘︎ Karim Douieb pairs a choropleth map with sounds of the city, with his interactive noisy map of Brussels.

↘︎ If going outside is not an option, live vicariously through other people's windows with WindowSwap, which shows you user-submitted videos of their window views.