Mother Nature is our “Mother”

By Iylia Marsya Iskandar

As you swim and go further into the horizon, you realise that the sea anemone that used to house the clownfish, Nemo, starts to lose its colour. You started to realise that all this while you have been living in a trance, wasn’t it just yesterday that the sea anemone looks a lively orangey-red? You snapped into the present reality, still swimming and suddenly a transparent plastic bag hit your face. As you struggle to get the plastic out of your face you started to remember that the orangey-red sea anemone was last seen 10 years ago. Now, it is all pale as if it is on its deathbed. At 60 years old, you remembered the glory days – one that is filled with the lives of the sea with colours vibrant enough to challenge the flowers on land. Oh… you missed it all!

You have been in search for weeks but all you encountered are of your species – female sea turtles.

How do you find a mate in this heat?

As contrast to human beings, a sea turtle’s gender cannot be seen explicitly. You cannot always tell which is which just by looking. That would require a laparoscopy which is viewing the turtle’s internal organs by inserting a thin camera. Generally, the gender of a sea turtle is determined by the heat of sand where the eggs are buried. However, due to climate change and the rise of global temperature, National Geographic reported that female baby turtles now outnumber males with a ratio of 116:1.

Climate Change: Cause and Effects

Source: Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia

Source: Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia

If we want to discuss climate change and the effects of it, we should not look further and ponder on Malaysia itself. Malaysia is an equatorial country where it is expected to be hot, humid and rainy throughout the year. However, just last month, most of Peninsular Malaysia has experienced a dry spell where there is less than 150 m.m of recorded rainfall. The average rainfall in Peninsular Malaysia is 250 m.m monthly.

Malaysians have felt like they are satay grilling on an open fire throughout the end of February and March and it is most definitely not their imagination. The temperature has been soaring high ranging from 35 to 37 degrees Celcius in ten areas. Despite the discomfort of the hot weather temperature, this is considered a normal phenomenon in Malaysia as hot weather is a normal phenomenon at the rear end of the north-east monsoon. But how normal is this?

During the past century, human activities have released a large amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Most of the gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for cars, for example. Greenhouse gases are like a blanket around the Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm up. This is called the greenhouse effect and it is natural and necessary to support life on earth.

However, while greenhouse gases build up, climate changes and results in dangerous effects to the ecosystem. A warmer climate can bring changes that can affect the natural environment, and even our own health and safety. For example, carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so the Earth will continue to warm in the future resulting in global warming and the rise in sea level as the Antarctica ice melts.

Scientists have analysed that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will speed up their melting in the coming decades if the world continues to burn greenhouse gases extensively. They also predicted that the two ice sheets will add about 10 inches to the world’s oceans by 2100.

Look to the north to the island of Penang last two weeks. Penang has been shocked with two water spouts, spiralling their expectations of the dangers in the rise of global temperature. Despite its name, a waterspout is not filled with water from the ocean or lake. It does not “spout” from the water. The water inside requires high level of humidity and a relatively warm water temperature compared to the overlying air that is formed by condensation in the cloud.

According to The New Straits Times, Penang waterspouts have been known to be unusual, but this time around, it has left behind a trail of chaos. The waterspout appears out of dark and stormy clouds, torn off zinc sheets of construction sites, with metal sheets being flung violently into the air.

It cannot be denied that the Earth’s climate can also be affected by natural factors such as volcanic eruption, but human’s hands are the main reason for climate change. How many more penguins and polar bears have to lose their homes due to ice thinning until we realise that we need to start acting now?

Actions and Preventions by the IIUM Community

The Students Representative Council (SRC) in collaboration with IIUM Eco Club has come up with a wide range of campaign on environmental education known as the Path to Sustainable Pastures (PSP). This campaign includes the “IIUM Zero Single-Use Plastic Campaign” in an effort to save Mother Nature.

Generally, plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. To put salt onto the wound, Malaysia has become a dumping ground for New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom to dispose of plastic waste, according to Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

Despite the fact that this campaign might benefit the environment several IIUM students had remarked that it is a burden to them. In a recent interview with the IIUM Eco Club, Head of Research and Development, Alani Farhah and Head of Welfare, Badran Adha, have given their views on this matter.

Badran clarified that the sole purpose of this campaign is to help Mother Nature as a whole, not to aid IIUM students. This whole situation might be considered as drastic to some students but he further elaborated: “Mother Nature is dying, surely when your own mother is dying you would bring her straight to the hospital, not the pharmacy.”

Alani noted that we should be thankful that our Rector, Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, an environmentalist who is advocating towards a greener IIUM. Both Badran and Alani emphasised that Mother Nature is currently at strike. “Act now or be the hands that will destroy our future.”

The IIUM Eco Club has its own vision that is to make IIUM as a champion vicegerent of environmental sustainability among institutions of higher learning. With this, they have conducted several programmes in their effort to save Mother Nature.

Just last week on 12 April, the Club has conducted a “River of Life Exhibition at Riverside” in IIUM. The following day, in collaboration with the IIUM River of Life, Daya Bersih Sdn. Bhd, Asia Pacific Environmental Consultants (ASPEC) and Mahallah Bilal Representative Council, IIUM Eco club conducted a gotong-royong in an effort to restore Mahallah Bilal’s pond ecosystem towards a more eco-friendly IIUM.

Even though there are still loopholes in these campaigns and programmes, the IIUM community members have come together and set their minds to help Mother Nature. It can be considered as walking to class to reduce carbon fuels, to lessen carbon dioxide emissions or to stop using single-use plastics to save both turtles and whales. The options are endless. After all, progress is impossible without change. Those who cannot change their mind, cannot change anything.

(For more information on how you can contribute to Mother Nature, you can follow @iiumecoclub on Twitter and Instagram.) ***

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