Talking about Environmental Issues

(Pls click here to check out how each country contributes to Green house gas emissions.)

Was rather happy with how For and Against turned out on 17 June, in terms of the various issues raised and the rigour of the debate. Shame that the turnout was not as high as expected. Often, things like this can distract us from the initial purpose of organising such as debate.

Why debates?

Initially I thought that debates are ‘ehhh’. In fact, in Singapore they are probably considered quite niche, a reserve for school debaters, who are viewed as aggressive and fast-talking. But I’ve come to appreciate how it brings issues to the forefront, and serves them up with all the rough edges. It’s controversial and that means people get riled up. I think that’s exactly what debates can contribute to environmental activism.

We can have non-environmentalists argue with environmentalists. We can have environmentalists with differing views argue with each other. Either way, it invites people to think about the environment, at the very least.

Why are so little people interested?

I wonder what does it take for a community to come together to talk about issues, and take them seriously. How do we go from “Oh, I don’t mind going if there’s free food” / “Sounds interesting, I’ll go if I’m free” to “Oh yea I should totally go!”?

My initial reservations about debates may be shared by many others. How can we come out of our comfort zones, to embrace the conflict before the consensus? How can we spend some time to engage issues on a deeper level?

Why it’s okay.

Discouragement is inevitable. The hopes that millions of people will be interested is rarely fulfilled. Belief in my cause will drive me to think about how better we can modify and market it. There’s always things to improve on, and things to pat ourselves on the back for – it’s paramount not to give up just yet.

What to change, and what to stick to.

Some suggested a change of venue, arguing that the Arts House is too solemn, not hip enough. Cost inefficiency aside, my gut feeling still prefers the Arts House. Nonetheless, I believe that the core of the debate lies in its format, the quality of the speakers and the seriousness of the issues involved. A hippier venue may lower the barriers to entry for people who are new to the event, but the rigour of the debate should never be compromised.

My personal thoughts on how to improve the event will probably involve extending the programme. I’m sure those who listened to the debate have their own thoughts. Beyond voting and post-event chit-chat, are there more meaningful ways of engaging them to share their thoughts or delve deeper into the issue? Something to explore, really.

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Overall Thoughts 

Still feeling quite excited on what we can do. I’m sure more and more people will become interested in debate!

 

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