What are some of the current issues confronting our world today? Amongst them, what is of interest and a cause of concern to you?
1. Climate Change
Climate change is a constant occurrence throughout the years, however, the drastic changes in the recent years are becoming increasingly alarming. The sea levels and temperatures are rising globally, more biodiversity and food supplies are being threatened, and extreme weathers are becoming constant. Despite experiencing some of the increasingly detrimental effects, many people probably still feel rather detached as we do not face an “immediate existential threat”, as well as the popular belief that our own individual effort to lessen our carbon footprints would be too minuscule when many others are not contributing to the cause.
“Unlike other more unfortunate island states with far more immediate existential threats, Singapore does have the comfort of a slightly longer threat horizon. This, however, can be as much an incentive as a hindrance to immediate action.”
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2. Excessive Consumerism
Consumerism has been deeply etched into our culture, and it is especially so for people whom are living in economically developed countries such as Singapore, where e-commerce and cashless payments are prevalent. A survey back in 2016 found out that 38% of respondents in Singapore purchase something online at least once a month, compared to 28% globally. We constantly purchase things, often way more than we actually require, due to the need to constantly be on trend, to show off economic power, or simply we are able to. This leads to a “throwaway” or hoarding culture, which are detrimental to the environment due to the unnecessary wastage of resources, and our mental health due to the cost of sustaining the high-consumption lifestyle and the constant social comparison process.
“… it can trigger a social comparison process. In the end, this hurts their psychological well-being, lowering their self-esteem and increasing anxiety levels.”
“Feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem and anxiety in some cases led to uncontrollable spending sprees – seemingly in an effort to close the gap between the students’ own lives and what they see in their news feeds.”
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3. Losing our languages
Although globalisation may have benefited the world greatly, languages around the world are gradually being forgotten in favour of the English language as there are no “economical benefit” in learning them. In Singapore, many of us no longer even speak our mother tongue languages at home, and dialects are now seemingly only spoken by the older generations. Furthermore, most of the older generations are only capable of speaking in their mother tongue and/or dialects, hence communication becomes an issue, and these languages, especially dialects, which are parts of our roots, are slowly being lost to time.
“There are many Singaporean families who find mother tongue studies practically impossible. Children spend endless hours to hopefully get a decent grade in it. These are hours which could have been spent on the other subjects.”
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4. Discrimination due to Heritage / Historical Feuds
Strained relationships and conflicts arising from past feuds and/or the war are unfortunately rather common today. The past feuds are often unresolved or laid to rest, causing tensions to escalate further with present issues such as territorial and trade disputes. Descendants from the involved parties today continued to be treated with contempt and prejudice due to the wrongdoings or feuds of the past generations. Although a country/party should be held responsible for their past actions, I felt that the current generation of both parties does not deserve to be discriminated against, simply due to their heritage.
“Yanagishima has not been spared by the children she teaches, even though they are between six and 12 years old.”
“Nonetheless, stereotypes about Zainichi persist: they are often regarded as less educated and less well-mannered than ethnic Japanese.”
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- Climate Change
Why is the issue important? Who does it affect and how?
Credits: @oceanic.elizabeth, Instagram
The issue is important as the detrimental effects of climate change would affect all life on the planet. In the recent years, there were abnormal spikes in the temperature and sea levels globally which were unparalleled over the last two millennia. These changes were largely caused by anthropogenic global warming; the release of greenhouse gases from human activities, deforestation, increased rearing of livestock and etc. If the situation is left untouched, the Earth would continue to heat up rapidly, more glaciers would continue to melt and contribute to the rise of sea levels, heat absorbed from the sun, and the release of carbon gases trapped underneath the ice, which would in turn hasten the rise in temperature. Biodiversity and food supplies would be threatened due to the changes, and humans too, would eventually be threatened due to our closely interconnected ecosystem.
As the primary culprits behind the abnormal changes to the climate, we ought to each do our part to rectify the situation by changing our lifestyles and adopt sustainable habits to help reduce anthropogenic global emissions. This could be encouraged by raising more awareness about the urgency of the issue as well as ways and a movement to help the target audience to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
Further research on some of the issues caused by ( anthropogenic ) Climate Change
- Rise in temperature – Global average surface temperature +0.9°C
- Loss of glaciers – glaciers reflect light / heat from the sun; more heat would be absorbed
- Increase in global sea levels – approx. 3.2mm/year and increasing; floods
- Water contamination & decrease in freshwater
- Loss of biodiversity – changes in ecosystems and food chain
- Increase in certain species – e.g. mosquitoes, ticks, jellyfish, crop pests; devastating effect on environment, food chain, humans’ health, etc.
- More extreme weathers – Torrential downpours, storms, longer heatwaves, and droughts
- Increased humidity
- Smog trapped in urban areas
Food & Water Security
- More difficult for crops to grow – e.g. corn, wheat, rice
- Species of animals have to shift / find a more suitable habitat & condition ( e.g. cooler temperatures )
- Species of plants / crops / animals threatened – changes to food chain
- Decrease in food supplies – decrease in crops, livestock, catches etc.
- Shortage of drinking water – glaciers make up 90% of global freshwater, floods causes contamination
- Respiratory & cardiovascular diseases due to higher air pollution ( smog trapped in urban areas due to higher temperatures )
- Increase & spread of diseases – e.g. malaria, dengue, lyme disease, etc.
- Increase in allergens – e.g. asthma
- Malnutrition & digestive illnesses – shortage / contamination of food and water supply
- Heat-related illnesses and death – increased temperatures and humidity
- Poorer living conditions
- Large struggles in agricultural industries
- Rural and urban poverty unable to cope / survive
- Forced relocation of communities
- Disruptions of daily life
Who do you need to communicate to, and why?
Target Audience: Teenagers and young adults / millennials aged 18 to 25, and environment enthusiasts
I decided to choose teenagers and young adults aged 18 to 25, as I felt that the younger generations are getting more concerned about the environment contrary to popular beliefs. A recent study has shown that the millennials are “largely concerned with larger society and environmental issues”, and another recent study also showed that 91% of the respondents aged 18-24 were concerned about the impact of climate change in Singapore. The issue about climate change was also highlighted during the National Day Rally speech this year.
Furthermore, the millennials would be the next “financial powerhouse” when they get older, hence it is important to develop sustainable lifestyle habits to prevent excessive consumerism, and to turn environmentally friendly habits into a culture.
How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
A website where we are able to generate a simplified version of a chart of the changing temperatures of a country. I like how utterly simple this is, yet it gets the message across so easily through the simple colours and visual. The sudden redness gives us an alarming effect as well. Furthermore, we are able to see the temperature changes of other countries as well, without needing to read text reports and more complicated charts.
Sébastien Thibault, The Walrus – The Rising Tide, 2014.
A composition about how climate change can only be stopped by overhauling capitalism. I like how the smoke that was produced from the factory was also the top part of a tsunami, which was about to crash onto the shore and the factories. I like the irony of the composition, as well as the simplicity; of the illustration and as well as how it makes the viewers think and link it up without the usage of words.
Illusion CGI Studio & Analog/Digital. tv, Destroying Nature is Destroying Life, 2016.
A series of compositions:
a polar bear, and its habitat being superimposed onto the upper half of the body. The habitat was being ruined, probably by oil mining.
a deer, also with its habitat superimposed on, and the forest was being destroyed by logging.
a monkey, with its habitat on the upper half being burnt away, due to illegal slash-and-burn.
I like the way they superimposed the destroyed habitat on the bodies of the threatened animals nicely especially for the monkey and the deer, and how we can clearly differentiate what animal it is and the devastation human are subjecting these animals and their habitats to.