Thursday, 1 May 2008

“The 11th Hour” Malaysian Premiere at KLPAC


I verily believe the environmental offender, YTL Corporation, is trying to ingratiate itself into the good graces of the Malaysian Nature Society. We had just been informed, quite at the last minute, that we have been invited to set up a booth at the KL Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) at the Malaysian premiere of "The 11th Hour" on Tuesday evening, and that we would be given a certain number of complimentary tickets. Am not sure what transpired between YTL and our HQ staff but the Branch Committee was given tickets as well. Gary called up to ask if I could make it to the premiere. Besides feeding and cleaning up after 16 cats, cleaning a house, preparing several reports, drafting a legal opinion and practicing for an upcoming bowling tournament, no... I didn't have anything to do, so I agreed to come for the screening.

The documentary was pretty mind-blowing. I strongly recommend that it be translated into all major languages and screened on national TV in all countries. I believe it should be compulsory screening in schools and government departments. If 'An Inconvenient Truth' made our indifferent public sit up and listen, then 'The 11th Hour' would make them want to get up and take action.

For me, watching the documentary was like witnessing a reunion of old friends. The heroes of my youth, including Kenny Ausubel, the founder of Bioneers, environmentalist and TV presenter David Suzuki and Janine Benyus, author of "Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature", were interviewed in this documentary to speak on the topic that matters most to them: Mother Earth.

The message conveyed is one that each of us should treat with utmost importance: Climate change should not be debated as though it were an issue of faith, i.e. "I believe / don't believe in climate change". All scientific evidence shows that the current rate of global warming is unnatural and dangerous, and the human race is on the verge of self-destruction. There is nothing alarmist about this. Contrary to the argument of religious fundamentalists that environmentalists are attacking the institution of marriage and family by calling for a slowdown of human population expansion, the solution we environmentalists advocate ISN'T in not having babies, it's in finding cleaner and more efficient alternatives to practices and inventions that are polluting, wasteful and unsustainable. Just as humans have the ability to destroy, we also have the capacity to innovate, rebuild, heal, rehabilitate and protect.

As I have often lectured in my public speeches and Letters to the Editor, the Malthusian idea that a finite Earth cannot sustain indefinite human expansion is just an idea and not natural law. The Planet can sustain 6 billion people or 60 billion, depending on the way we utilise our space and resources. Ultimately, this is what makes the documentary both affecting and uplifting. It alerts us to the urgency of climate change, yet it also reminds us that the current rate of global warming can be halted and environmental destruction mitigated, if not reversed.

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