Malaysia risks environmental disaster by ignoring Earth's warning signs
New Straits Times
22 April 2022
GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia could face serious environmental issues that are costly to the people and the economy if Earth's warning signs are ignored.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president Meenakshi Raman said the country could not go on making trade-offs between economic and environmental imperatives, which often sees the latter being sacrificed.
"We cannot go on making such trade-offs. It is about time we realise that we have reached the limits of what Mother Earth can take, and if we continue to ignore these warning signs and limits, we will face environmental calamities which will be hugely costly, both in human and economic terms.
"As we have said before, it is not enough to dedicate one day in a year to remember her, if we are to save her and save ourselves.
"We must remember her every day and put the environment and ecology at the centre of decision-making if we are to prevent future calamities, resulting in catastrophic environmental impacts with economic implications."
She cited examples including the devastating impacts of massive floods from heavy rain due to global warming and water cuts and shortages due to pollution of the rivers and the mismanagement of our river basins and deforestation.
"What is deeply frustrating and depressing is that we continue to learn about activities that undermine our sustainability," she said in conjunction with Earth Day today.
Meenakshi said according to a survey by the Rimba Disclosure Project (RDP), forests totalling nearly the area of Singapore, or roughly three times that of Kuala Lumpur, had been earmarked for clearing in Peninsular Malaysia.
She said the report stated that Malaysia would see deforestation amounting to at least 72,584.73ha in the near future, as 86 environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports involving forested land had been approved, 28 listings of forests for sale had been identified, and one project involving deforestation was ongoing.
"We have also learnt of massive reclamation projects with very serious environmental impacts, including from the huge volumes of sand-mining and rock quarrying that will take place for these projects, and the destruction of environmentally sensitive areas.
All the planned projects, she added, come at a time when the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability' had stressed on the need for climate resilient development.
Meenakshi said a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGO) under the banner of "Gabungan Darurat Iklim Malaysia" (which includes SAM), had on April 20, urged the government at the federal, state and local levels to declare a Climate Emergency in Malaysia no later than Sept 16 (Malaysia Day), with a proposed detailed recommendations to address the climate emergency with a "strong political will".
"We once again call for transformative commitments and paradigm shifts in the way we produce and consume. A fundamental rethink and shift in the mindset is most needed.
"It is unacceptable to destroy our food producing sectors when food prices and food imports are sky-rocketing," she noted.