Draining of Earth’s Resources

30 10 2008

A few days ago the Star, a local newspaper ran an article which I found quite distressing. The WWF had released a report which said that if the humankind does not reduce it’s current consumption trends, we would soon deplete the resources of this planet and by the year 2035 we would essentially need another one of these . . .

Mother Earth

Mother Earth

. . . to sustain our obsession. I hope some of you have one handy because I surely don’t have a spare in my backyard. The humankind has never been one to learn from it’s mistakes or history. Way back (for some of my readers) in the 80’s there was a call to find ways to reduce or control our use of fossil fuels for fear it would one day run out. But did we heed the warning? No, we carried on demanding more private transport, more powerful ones at that. Public transport was uncool. Then we come to today, 25 years down the road and we realise that wow. . . oil reserves are actually diminishing and worst . . . all that burning of this once abundant source of energy has resulted in irreversible damage to the earth and it’s ecology. That even if this resource was indeed inexhautible, we could not go on using it without further damaging our only home.

This then is the article I read. Have a read and i shall continue from where I left off.

WWF says reckless consumption threatens the planet

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Earth’s natural resources are being depleted so quickly that “two planets” would be required to sustain current lifestyles within a generation, the conservation group WWF said on Wednesday.

The Swiss-based WWF, also known as the World Wildlife Fund, said in its latest Living Planet Report that more than three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries whose consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal.

Its Living Planet Report concluded that reckless consumption of “natural capital” was endangering the world’s future prosperity, with clear economic impacts including high costs for food, water and energy.

“If our demands on the planet continue to increase at the same rate, by the mid-2030s we would need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles,” said WWF International Director-General James Leape.

Jonathan Loh of the Zoological Society of London said the dramatic ecological losses from pollution, deforestation, over-fishing and land conversion were having serious impacts.

“We are acting ecologically in the same way as financial institutions have been behaving economically — seeking immediate gratification without due regard for the consequences,” Loh said in a statement accompanying the report.

“The consequences of a global ecological crisis are even graver than the current economic meltdown,” he said.

The report said the world’s global environmental “footprint” or depletion rate now exceeds the planet’s capacity to regenerate by 30 percent. On a per-country basis, the United States and China have the largest footprints, the WWF said.

The United States and Australia rank among the five countries with the largest footprints per person, along with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Denmark.

The lowest five are Bangladesh, Congo, Haiti, Afghanistan and Malawi, WWF said. Regionally, only non-EU Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean remain within their “biocapacity”.

Emissions from fossil fuels — which would be targeted under a successor to the Kyoto climate change accord — were among the top culprits cited by WWF for the big demands on the planet.

The WWF’s Leape said world leaders needed to put ecological concerns at the top of their agenda and ensure the environment is factored into all decisions about consumption, development, trade, agriculture and fisheries management.

“If humanity has the will, it has the ways to live within the means of the planet, but we must recognise that the ecological credit crunch will require even bolder action than that now being mustered for the financial crisis,” Leape said.

By now I am guessing that none of the 6 billion people I share this planet with has a clue as to where we are going to find another planet like the one we currently have. So are we going to learn how to slow down our reckless consumptionof it’s resources? Sure we can recycle but that is not the answer. We cannot yet recycle 100% of the things we consume. As it stands, Malaysia alone wastes some 40% of it’s treated water. Public transport has taken a back seat (literally) since 1984 as part of  Government’s policy of promoting the then fledgling national car industry. Now we each have our own cars but go nowhere for at least 2 hours of the day, everyday!

Our obsession with technological superiority even our personal computing needs have led to one of the most destructive and reckless use of our resources. Computers now become obsolete in a matter of months. Programs written today cannot be run on computers any more than 2 years old. Mobile phones are replaced when they go out of style or replaced by a new model, not when they malfunction. Automobiles hardly serve out 5 years with their first owner before being traded in for a new one.

A friend of mine once said,”Don’t knock consumerism, it’s what makes the world go around and what drives the economy.” Sure, I do not deny this. In fact, consumerism, free market trade has led to competition and advancement of our knowledge, our sciences, our medicine and our technology. But somehwere along the line we have gone overboard. At least those of us who claim to be from developing or developed countries.

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of my younger friends during lunch today in which I brought up this topic.One of them pointed out the futility of even trying to curb our consumption, saying that we are each but one person in this big huge world. How much would we actually contribute to the effort? I have no answer myself and I cannot admit to being the most ecologically friendly person ( I myself consume litres of petrol a day just getting to and from my place of work) but I am willing to try. Because the only other option is not an option I wish to pursue or see come to pass. So help me pass on the message and save the only home we have. And you know what, like any good mother who is a little sick, all we have to do is unburden her and she will cure herself in due time. Gaia or Mother Earth has the capacity to do the same.

Just after I first posted this message, I read the following on Yahoo. Maybe the current financial meltdown is a good thing after all. Read that Yahoo article here.


Cotton Candy Clouds

26 10 2008

It has been raining every evening in the Klang valley in the last few weeks and that has really helped the air quality. While at work last week I happened to look out behind me past the great big opening of the aircraft hangar and saw this beautiful scene. I regret not having my DSLR wih me.

Cotton Candy Clouds

Cotton Candy Clouds

This is the first time in a long time I have seen clouds forming at such a low altitude in this area. Notice the clear blue skies?  If only I had my DSLR with me and a higher vantage point. The picture above was taken by the dinky little camera which resides in my phone. Can you imagine the photograph that could have been had I my Nikon D80 with me?

Now if only we can keep the skies above the city this clear all year round . . . .


22 10 2008

Hahaha! Bet the title got you thinking. Well, sorry to dissapoint you if you think I did what you think I did. This was where I went over the last weekend. My kind of clubbing!

More pictures later. For now it would suffice to say I had fun. Port Dickson is sooooo laid back.


22 10 2008

Today I finally decided to invest in something I had always wanted since my film photography days. Cokin claims to make one of the most flexible and best filter systems in the world of photography. It is quite expensive and in those days I could hardly afford it. Being very pragmatic by nature, I only bought the “warm up” filter (81b) together with the filter holder. I hope to expand the system as I learn to use the ones I have to enhance my pictures.  A photography trip this friday will give me and my friends a chance to experience and use the system first hand. To this end, I have arranged to borrow a few more filters from a friend who had also just purchased the system but with a few more different filters. can’t wait for our TT cum photography trip! Something to look forward to.

“Waste Not, Want Not”

16 10 2008

After having a good laugh together, a good friend of mine suggested that it should be the subject of today’s blog. Well, l thought “Why not, a laugh should be shared”.

“Waste not, want not”, It’s an old english idiom I often try to live by. I try to use my shoes, clothes and almost everything else I own to the end of their service life but I think this time i might have pushed it a little too far with my wallet.

As you can see from the pictures above, it could hardly hold what little money I have. hehehehe! With no doubt that it had given it’s lifetime of service, I decided today that it was time to lay it to rest and buy a new wallet to replace it. Now where do I find a recycling centre?

The Tin Dredger

13 10 2008

Upon reaching Batu Gajah we found a cool dark eatery where we decided to have lunch. Afiq, Alvin, Roger and Tzy Wen ordered their meals but I was too hot to eat anything. Instead I just concentrated on rehydrating myself with tea and 2 cans of 100PLUS. I cannot comment on the food as I did not have anything to eat but this town does feature in the Malaysia’s rich food culture. If it’s food you are looking for then I suggest you head a few kilometres northward to the city of Ipoh.

Although lunch was over in a short time, I suggested we rest a little while. Besides it was still very hot outside.  We left at around 2 p.m and filled the car up with petrol before heading to our next and final destination for the day guided by the GPS navigation in my Nokia 5500 Sport.

I shall write more about my GPS experience at a later date but it does come it did very well guiding us out of the town of Batu Gajah and onto the road south to our next destination. About 10 kilometres south of Batu Gajah almost next to the small town of Chendrong is a machine that is seldom ever seen anymore.

The Dredge

The Dredge

Tin mines and the tin dredge used to feature prominently in the landscape of Perak and Selangor. In fact when I was growing up there used to be a tin dredge in one of the many mining pools in what is now Kelana Jaya. In fact  my late father once took me into an operational dredger when one of them featured a tour of their facility. Little did I know that they would soon disappear into the pages of history with only this one standing in a small backwater town in Perak.

The picture does not do it justice. it really is a behemoth weighing in at around 4500 tons and about 400 feet in length. You can see form the picture above that I had problems trying to frame my picture so that I could get the whole dredge in it. I don’t think any of the others got it all in either. I’ll have to wait till I process my the film in my nikon FE.

For those unfamiliar with the workings of a tin dredger, it is really floating factory of sorts. Yes these monstrous machines actually floated on mining pools. This particular one sits in a small pool but I suspect it is not floating anymore. Tin Dredgers moved around by pulling themselves along a steel cable tethered across the breadth of the mining pool. So you can imagine this thing moving from one side of the pool to the other dredging up the bottom for tin ore. Every once in a while the steel cables would be advanced a few metres so the dredge could mine on the next stretch of the pool. If you want to see what one of these is capable of doing, just go down to Sunway Lagoon. That amusement park is built in what is a drained out ex mining pool!

There were lots of things to photograph inside the tin dredger. I managed to climb up to where the giant buckets deliver their load of tin ore and earth high up in the dredger. You really have to watch your step as the walkways are rusty and there are many places where a misstep could lead to a nasty fall. And as you can see in the last picture taken from quite high up, the dredger is actually listing to one side.





This way please

This way please

If not for the fact I was tired and dehydrated I could have spent a few more hours at both our destinations today.

My advice to those who wish to attempt the Kellie’s Castle and the Dredge in a day, arrive as early as possible at the Castle, finish off at 11 a.m and drive to Ipoh for some good food and relaxation before driving to the Dredger around 3 p.m. That way you’ll have a chance of great lighting (as opposed to the harsh midday sun) and not risk severe dehydration like we did. Oh, there are two types of tickets for the Tin Dredge. The RM10 ticket will allow you around the moat and only the ground floor of the dredge whilst the RM15 one will allow you to climb to all the nooks and crannies of this metal beast. Be prepared to question why you should be charged an extra RM5 to bring in a DSLR. We got away with it after a little persuasion.

Finally my these are atttempts at Black and White conversion of the pictures I took with my digital camera.

Kellie’s Castle

11 10 2008
Kellie's Castle

Today 5 of us journeyed to the South of Perak on a photography trip. Our first stop was the place you see above. Kellie’s Castle just outside the town of Batu Gajah. The castle has a colourful but mysterious history attached to it and definitely worth a visit. Our day begun at 6.30 a.m and ended when we arrived back in Subang at about 8 p.m. I shall update this post after I get a much deserved shower and much needed sleep.

We arrived in the area at about 9 a.m and decided to get some breakfast which turned out to be a good idea because there is no food or drinks to be bought at Kellie’s Castle. We arrived at the Castle at 9.40 a.m and started to click away from across the river. The castle and it’s setting makes for great pictures. It sits on a hillock with a river running past it. I have been here long ago before there wasa bridge across the river and there were no admission charges. Nowadays tourists have to pay RM4 just to cross the bridge to visit the castle. But hold on, just as I was about to pay the person in the ticketing booth told us that we could not bring in our DSLR’s as these were considered “professional equipment not normally brought in by normal tourist”. Damn, here I am on a holiday and someone manages to get my blood going early in the morning. This guy then proceeded to pull out what he said is a “schedule of special charges” and said,” If yo uinsist on bringing those cameras in to the castle then I would have to charge you differently . . .it is very expensive you know”. I took a deep breath and told him that we were just here on a holiday and these are the only cameras we have. I was not about to relent to this kind of absurd rules or unreasonable extortion. I am not even sure these “special charges” existed since he did not show me the schedule. After a while he relented and told us to pay the RM4/person entry fees. We were in. And as you can see Afiq quickly “got down” to the business of taking pictures. “Macam Pro lah” as the malays would say.

Pro at work

Pro at work

Kellie's Castle
lift shaft

Blue Skies

Blue Skies

The castle is actually an unfinished house started by William Kellie Smith in the early part of the 20th century. But as you can see it really does look like a small castle upon a hill top. In one of the pictures above you can see a lift shaft that has been incorporated into the tower. Had it been completed Kellie’s Castle would have been the first ever building to have had a lift in this part of the world. Kellie must have been a man of some vision when he built his home, for from just about anywhere in this building he would have a spectacular views of the land which surrounds it. Here below is a view from one of the many rooms in the castle.

I made my way up to the roof of the tower which houses the main stair case and the lift shaft. You can see that tower very prominently in the pictures above. it is a bit scary up on that roof as there are no barricades to prevent you from falling off it onto the the grounds 4 floors below! But the view from the rooftop is simply breath taking.

The group picture above was taken on the roof of the main building. Behind us is the tower which attaches to the house. The wall to the left really looks like a battlement from the a real castle. Was William Kellie Smith envisioning an attack on his castle by the local militia?  Nobody knows what Kellie had in mind. His name only became famous after the rediscovery of this “castle” in the middle of nowhere. Nobody actually knows what became of him. On the walls of this castle along the corridors leading to the many rooms are stories about the history of this castle. There are 3 stories of what might have befallen William Kellie in the early part of the last century. Finally, it is said that his spirit still roams the castle in search of his family.

There are some really great pictures of the guys doing jumps and “matrix” style moves up on this part of the roof. I hope they’ll send some to me so I may put them up here. How about it guys?

Was the 200km journey worth it to see this castle? You can bet it is. There are lots more pictures I would have like to capture but the light of the midday sun was too harsh for great photography and we were fast becoming severely dehydrated. Besides, we still have another destination planned for today. So we packed our equipment and headed for the town of Batu Gajah nearby for lunch and rehydration.