Friday, December 28, 2007

Modules Sem 2 AY07/08

GE6770 Graduate Research Seminar
GE5660 Independent Study Module
LAB1201 Bahasa Indonesia 1 (S/U)
ST1131 Statistics (Audit)

On the research front:
- Singapore demand side study
- Recce in Pekanbaru, Indonesia
- environmental concepts lit review (ISM)

On the paperwork front:
- Research grant ($3000)

On the conference front:

- Apply for SEAGA
- Apply for conference grant

On the publishing front:

- HT

On the teaching front:
- no updates yet

On the stress front:

- dead

I look at the list and I become seized by fear. Paralyzed. I don't dare to move forward, don't know where to begin. It's not that I am procrastinating but I set myself up for this perfectionist syndrome.

The wise thing to do right now would be to choose just one of those and work on that. I've tried picking IRB as my first on the list but I'm thinking that's the wrong thing to do because it involves rewriting my research proposal which is scaring me stiff right now. Everything is tied up with one another. Fuck! I don't know what to do. I'm so scared. Omg I am just overwhelming myself. Why do I do that?! Ok I am going to try something easier... *blank*

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Exam Results



Well the christmas cheer (and gloom) continues. I'm not surprised I got an A for the environmental management class but I'm really disappointed that I got a B for the research methods module.

Mainly because this reflected very poorly on my research proposal and now I'm really worried. Crap!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Modules for Sem 2 AY07/08

It's the time of the year again to decide on my modules for next semester.

It is my belief that we should always exploit the university's resources as much as possible. Which means I need to learn as much as I can with the amount of school fees I pay. Well in this case, it's "free" but I'm in the system and I should take advantage of all available resources.

Originally I was planning on taking just 2 easy modules.

1. ISM - Independent Study Module and focus on doing my singapore research or is literature review a safer bet?
2. GRS - Graduate Research Seminar which is compulsory

Now I am informed that I can take language modules on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. And also there are other modules in MEM and LKYSPP that are enticing me. There are also statistics modules that I really need to learn from.

What should I do? Should I give up on the ISM? Or should I try to audit everything?

The temptation includes:

1. Bahasa Indonesia (Very important)

2. Environmental Science by Prof Chou (methods in the field... maybe)
The module discusses earth's environmental dimensions of air, water and land, and the interaction between living and non-living components. Earth is considered as a system through which materials are continuously cycled. Impacts caused by natural or human influences affect the state of balance, leading to environmental problems, with human impacts causing more serious consequences to the environment and human society. The module covers the properties of air, water and land, ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem integrity and environmental capacity, pollution pathways and impacts, conservation science, integrated management approaches. The scientific basis of environmental management is stressed.
After reading the description, this module is out of the question

3. Business and the Environment by a visiting Yale professor (Prof thinks I should go to get connection for Yale)
There is such an heavy emphasis on industrial ecology. I'm really not sure

Potential Methods Modules:

Mon, 18.00 - 21.00, AS1/02-03
This module introduces students to the use of multivariate methods for the analysis of psychological data. Included among the methods to be covered may be canonical correlation, discriminant function analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modelling. Emphasis will be placed on the development of skills for multivariate data analysis through hands-on analysis and interpretation of datasets.

Tue, 18.30 - 21.30, AS1/02-12
This module is designed for survey administrators, executives directed to oversee a research project for their organizations, and research students who will use survey data. The focus of the module is not on technical details; rather, it aims to equip participants with the insights, skills and knowledge necessary to manage a large survey project in applied and basic research settings. Some of the major conceptual and methodological issues to be addressed include the role of survey research in organizational development and policy formulation, the politics of applied research, press releases, and crisis media management.

Wed, 18.30 - 21.30, AS1/02-12
Increasingly, more qualitative research work is being under-taken in its own right rather than as preliminary research for subsequent quantitative surveys. This explains the broadening of the range of qualitative research techniques. In addition to dealing with traditional fieldwork and participant observation methods, the module will examine a number of qualitative approaches. These include techniques of analyzing data generated by laypersons (as in life-documents: diaries, journals, travelogues), communications materials, material artifacts, and visual information. This course is open to postgraduate students with an interest in qualitative research methods.

All the stats module does not sound like what I need. How?!

I looked into undergraduate statistics modules and hopefully they would allow me to audit the class:

1) ST1232 Statistics for Life Sciences
An introduction to the basic principles and methods of biostatistics designed specifically for life sciences students who wish to learn modern research methods for analysing and extracting information from biological, biomedical and genomic data. Relevant examples will be used throughout the course to illustrate various techniques. A computer package will be used to enhance learning and to enable students to analyze real life data sets. Topics include tabular and graphical display of data, probability, probability distributions, sampling distributions, confidence intervals and regression analysis, distribution free tests, categorical data analysis, logistic and Poisson distribution, introduction to Bayesian inference. This module is essential to students of the Life Sciences.

2) ST1131 Introduction to Statistics
This module introduces students to the basic concepts and the methods of statistics. A computer package is used to enhance the effect of learning and to enable students to analyse complicated data. Topics include descriptive statistics, basic concepts of probability, sampling distribution, statistical estimation, hypothesis testing, linear regression. This module is targeted at students interested in Statistics and are able to meet the pre-requisite. It is also an essential module for students in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and School of Design and Environment. Precludes students from Department of Mechanical Engineering.

I think I will have my hands full doing ISM, GRS, Bahasa Indonesia and auditing a stats module (hopefully I get to audit).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Singapore's Food Vulnerability

A lot of food vulnerability news circulating the media recently. Does this make my research topical or one step behind?

I'm also worried people will be more weary of me because of all the attention on them recently.
"Besides diversifying, the AVA boosts food stocks by selling Singapore as a food trading hub. This has attractive 'spin-offs', says AVA spokesman Goh Shih Yong, since it brings in more food.

The nation also transfers farm technology to pull in food supplies. It is this idea of non-agricultural Singapore showing farmers how to farm better that is a delicious irony - plus economically and politically logical, as it turns out." - "Our chicken comes from Brazil?", Straits Times, 24 Nov 2007
More Singapore Food News on WildSingapore News

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Singapore Environment Literature

Reference List from a 1999 article

Kog, Yue-Choong.
Environmental management and conflict in Southeast Asia : land reclamation and its political impact / Kog Yue-Choong.
Singapore : Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2006.
UA10 Iwp 101 2006

APCEL Report : Singapore

Evaluating Environmental Issues in the U.S.-Singapore FTA

Singapore National Implementation of Agenda 21

Environmental Concerns and Diet in Singapore
Burger J.1; Fleischer J.1; Jeitner C.1; Gochfeld M.2
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A, Volume 66, Number 15, January 2003 , pp. 1405-1420(16)
Taylor and Francis Ltd

Singapore Social Watch

IMF Singapore: Selected Issues [pdf]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How the other half lives

In the US, people will buy in bulk because it's cheaper. Pre-packaged salad mixes are increasingly popular for busy working urbanites. Do these increasing trends have an impact on the environment?

There is an increased disparity between the middle class and the working class. This article sums it up very nicely.
"Often, [my mother] berates me for buying more expensive, pre-packaged, economy-size foodstuff, knowing full well that I would have to dispose of them because I couldn't finish them before their use-by date.

So it's the wet market that the price-conscious shoppers go to. Not just because they can poke a fish and lift its gills to note its freshness, but also because they can buy stuff in small quantities - measured by the handful; break off that piece of ginger, pick a few stalks of chye sim - and pay for the exact amount."

- ST 18 Nov 2007 "What's more important than rising food costs?" by Bertha Henson

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Research Proposal 2.0

15 pages and 5200 words later, I finally finished my research proposal.

It can be downloaded here:
"Feeding Singapore Consumers:
Environmental Implications of Food Choices and Policies"
Research Proposal Report [PDF: 1.1MB]

Some thoughts. I've hardly submitted and I already see problems in the proposal. Methodology must change. Instead of stratified thematic surveying, I should do 50-100 farms that export to Singapore regardless of method, but group according to vegetables. Or just focus on 2 types of agricultural methods. Or focus on total land size. Must think of ways to cut down my scope.

"Why your chicken rice just got pricier"

An excellent article in the local newspaper the other day. Excellent not because it has revolutionary content but because it bothered to explain why the food got expensive rather than the usual explanation of inflation and what not.

I especially love the title of the article and when they question:
"WHAT do the price of corn in Malaysia and oil in America have to do with your chicken rice?"
Surely I can somehow mention this in my research:
The price of corn, the main ingredient in chicken feed, has gone from $420 to $820 a tonne, triggering a 20 per cent hike in the price of fresh chicken, said Poultry Merchants' Association secretary Chew Kian Huat.

He added that corn prices worldwide are at a high because of increasing demand for grain from the biofuel industry.

News reports also attributed high corn prices to rising demand from developing countries, rising populations around the world, and a shortage in supply due to frequent floods and droughts.

As for oil, the cause is a combination of political instability in the Middle East, the surge in global oil consumption and worries about tight global energy supplies.

Oil prices, which hit a high of US$96 ($139) this month, are also adding to the costs of importing and transporting chicken.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Parliament discuss food price increase

Channelnewsasia reports in "Increase in prices of food items to be discussed in Parliament" on 9 Nov 2007:
"SINGAPORE: Questions on the increase in prices of food items and the subsequent impact on Singaporeans will be raised in Parliament on Monday when the House sits."
Food issues are increasing in the eyes and ears of Singaporeans but they are only thinking about price and not looking further such as looking into what they can do about the cause of price increase. Solutions will most probably merely involve finding alternative cheaper sources or subsidizing.

That is only curing the symptoms and not the source! Food price will only continue to increase as environmental change strikes globally. What then? I can't wait to hear what is discussed in parliament on Monday.

Foodsheds and more concepts

New terms I learn today:

1. foodshed
Jack Kloppenburg Jr., John Hendrickson and G. W. Stevenson (1996) "Coming in to the Foodshed"
Getz (1991) "Urban Foodsheds", Permaculture Activist
W.P. Hedden, (1929) How Great Cities are Fed

2. Water Footprint

3. Virtual Water

Books I want to Read:
Omnivore Dilemma
How much should a person consume? : environmentalism in India and the United States

Interesting Journals
Agriculture and Human Value
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Agriculture and environment
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
American Journal of Agriculture Economics
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Experimental Agriculture
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Precision agriculture

Interesting articles
An alternative way to evaluate the environmental effects of integrated pest management: Pesticide risk indicators
Thomas J. Greitens and Esther Day
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 22, Issue 03, September 2007, pp 213-222

Balancing food, environmental and resource needs
John W. Doran, Fred Kirschenmann and Frederick Magdoff
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 22, Issue 02, June 2007, pp 77-79

Can organic agriculture feed the world?
Catherine Badgley and Ivette Perfecto
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 22, Issue 02, June 2007, pp 80-86

Ecological agriculture: Principles, practices, and constraints
Fred Magdoff
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 22, Issue 02, June 2007, pp 109-117

Testing a complete-diet model for estimating the land resource requirements of food consumption and agricultural carrying capacity: The New York State example
Christian J. Peters, Jennifer L. Wilkins and Gary W. Fick
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Volume 22, Issue 02, June 2007, pp 145-153

Thursday, November 8, 2007

PhD Application timeline

In order to apply for PhD for Fall 2009, I must start soon.

June 2008 - latest date to do my GRE
Jan 2009 - Deadline for application to Fall 2009 admission (Yale)

I think I will do my GRE soon.

The test site in Singapore is near Science Centre!


The test is 4 hours long and they only have dates every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for every week of the month. However the earliest date available so far is in the end of January 2008! February also have a few weeks available. This is for the computer test of course. The paper test will have quite different scheduling I suppose.

However the cost is really not cheap. It's $170USD for the test! *grumble* one time better be enough! I better be sure before I book a time to take the exam but I have to do it soon because 2008 will be busy time for me. Of course if I intend to work for a year before doing my PhD then that's another story altogether.

Registration Website

PhD at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

List of Professors

I've done this search a while back and this name always pop up whenever I look at Yale: Carol Carpenter
Her research interest cannot be more similar to mine!
* Social Ecology of Conservation and Development
* Region: Asia and the Pacific
* Environmental Justice
* Environmental Policy
* Parks and Protected Areas
* Sustainable Development
* Anthropology
Dr. Carpenter’s teaching and research interests focus on theories of social ecology, social aspects of sustainable development and conservation, and gender in agrarian and ecological systems.
That really appeals to me. Highly considered but I wonder if that will push me over the edge to human geography *sigh*

One thing I do notice about the Yale professors is that more of them have done work in Asia than compared to Oxford. What irony. There is even a tropical institute in Yale. The program director stands out:
Amity Doolittle

She is actually studying something which I am dying to work on! "The impact of global discourses of conservation and economic growth on local land-use practices" Consumption and Conservation!! I am ... tempted already!

I believe in Yale these types of subject is considered Social Ecology of Conservation and Development. How apt that I am looking to publish in the social / human ecology journal soon! I am optimistic. Yale yale yale. PRof really thinks I should go to Yale. What about W? What will he do if I go to Yale? Oxford is so much better for commuting as compared to Yale! I don't want to see my husband only once a week!

Another to consider, Michael Dove. All these names sound familiar because I definitely came across the same people last time I looked at Yale. Research areas include: (1) the theory of sustainable development and resource-use, (2) biodiversity and human society, (3) contemporary and historical environmental relations in South and Southeast Asia, (4) human use of tropical forests and grasslands, (5) resource-based linkage of local communities to global systems, (6) the study of developmental and environmental institutions, discourses, and movements, (7) the sociology of resource-related sciences.

If I really want to move into urban ecology, Stephen R. Kellert is the man to consider. This will bring me more into higher philosophical considerations which could be good as an academic. I think I can consider examining understanding the connection between human and natural systems with a particular interest in the value and conservation of nature.

Funding seems a lot more plausible at Yale than Oxford. Application details.

Department Information

Grad School Application
Application link

This is the immediate selling point for Yale:
"Applicants to Ph.D. programs are automatically considered for financial aid unless they indicate that they have available resources that will be sufficient to pay for tuition and maintenance for the duration of their educational program (normally four to six years)."

PhD at Oxford Env Change Institute

The only person with my closest research interest would be the director of the Environment Change Institute. She is also the chair of the GECAFS which is related to my current interest.

Professor Diana Liverman

Unfortunately she is also very hotly in demand. She also require either studies in Latin America or on Climate Change. However, she indicated interest in local food production networks in US. I think I can work around it and look at US as an implication for SEA. Is it feasible? Throw in a bit of neoliberalism and NAFTA in there. Voila! A pot of soup. Lots of details on her personal website.

Doctorates: I supervise a small number of doctoral students in the DPhil in Geography (please note there is no DPhil in Environmental Management). I am unable to accept more than a couple of new students each year because of my heavy administrative responsibilities and because of the time commitment I must make to each doctoral student. I rarely, if ever, accept students outside of my current research interests in Latin American environmental issues or climate impacts and policy because I believe that doctoral research requires expert supervision. I will discourage anyone who does not have a strong background for doctoral study, who is working outside my area of interest and expertise, or who applies late in the year after I have already accepted my quota of students. You will need to approach at least one other staff member to be your second supervisor if you wish me to be your primary advisor.

I do not have any research grants or fellowships to support postgraduate students at present. Admission to all our programmes is very competitive, especially for the modest number of scholarships available to the different programmes. Our postgraduate profile is very international and several students come with scholarships from their home countries. For UK and EU students the basic tuition fee is about £7000 and for international students tuition is almost £14000. All students must be admitted to both the university and to one of the Oxford Colleges. I am a fellow of Linacre College which does have a strong interest in the environment. College fees are between £1700 and £2100 and the university estimates that a single student will need to have about £750 a month for accommodation, food and other expenses (£9000 for 12 months).


There is also a guy called Dr Richard Ladle who works with crabs and has published with tons of familiar names in DBS like Peter Todd and Chou LM. But then he also works with representation of conservation science in media! That is very much like what I want to do on consumption and conservation! Melch that with my interest in social media. This could be it no?

Here's a list of professors to choose from.

Another possible candidate:
Professor Sarah Whatmore
Somebody I've actually heard of! Quite a known geographer indeed! She is working on sustainable consumption! Agriculture and food issues. I'm definitely interested. She also works on sustainable cities. Another interest. Mmmm she is interested in feminist geographers (haha) and also on people interested in transdisciplinary research. Very possible! :D

Funding is a big issue but here's a list:
Scholarships not restricted by region
Overseas Research Student (ORS) Awards Scheme
International Office Funding link
A whole bunch of other list
Chevening Scholarship
- only for 1 year programs.

Application details for the Oxford University Centre for Environment. Very important website

Critique of Environmental Reporting

Earlier this semester, for my Environmental Management and Assessment class, we were tasked to do a critique of 2 environmental reports by any 2 corporations of different scale, management style, etc.

I chose Unilever and Bens & Jerrys mainly because Bens & Jerrys was bought over by Unilever a few years ago. Supposedly, B&J was able to maintain independent corporate governance but still, in recent years, things have been reeling out of control. All the reasons which I use to love about B&J - their environmental and social ethics, not just their ice cream flavours - seems to have been lost!

This critique of the environmental reports is available on google documents.

Yesterday, I received an A for this report. Made my day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Australia Organic Imports

After reading my previous research outline, erkie commented that Singapore gets most of its organic and sustainable produce from Australia - the world's largest exporter of organic produce. Now that's a good point about FTA - if they can just turn to Australia, why get Malaysia to do better? But that's controversial in terms of food miles.

However, at the same time, you also have Singapore going directly to Indonesia to invest in sustainable farms. Is that an alternative to Australia?

But looking at Australia, it's not surprising they are the largest exporter of organic produce because they are so particular about controlling their organic imports, making sure no pathogens pass the custom. However, Malaysia and Indonesia are so far off in terms of taking care of their agrarian sector. How will they compare in terms of trade?

In a way, it would appear that Singapore government is making the right move to invest more in sustainable agriculture. Is that a direction they should do more in? But wouldn't getting consumers aware of such issues be important? If consumers totally stop buying from non-sustainably producing sources, then would it not make an impact?

Knowing the cheapos in Singapore, price is still everything. What then?

Consider competition when interviewing farmers.

Feeding Singapore Consumers: Environmental Implications of Food Import Choices and Policies

Below is the research and conceptual framework I've come up with for my Masters Dissertation. Although the presentation I gave on Monday bombed a stinky one, but still, I managed to get some very valuable feedback.

Here's the overall structure of the research:

GE5217 final presentation.ppt

Due to Singapore's high per capita income and strong purchasing power, our industry consumption (tourism and airline/maritime catering), as well as our strong food dependency, we have a strong influence on the agricultural sector of Malaysia and Indonesia. Why these two countries? Mainly because 50% of food in Singapore comes from Malaysia while Indonesia gets lots of money invested in their agri-sector from Singapore. Through these ways, we have negative and positive influences on the producing countries. As we have a strong influence, economically and logically, we would have certain influence over the agricultural practices of these countries as they would pander their production to our consumption. However, even as we diversify our supply, these countries also diversify their consumption base.

This research aims to basically find out how much our consumer power or state influence have on the agricultural practices of Indonesia and Malaysia and in turn, how are we affecting their environmental quality.

Thus, my field work, other than interviewing the different actors within the food systems from consumption to production, it is also to find out the environmental quality in the production end.

GE5217 final presentation.ppt

Using these 4 indicators as recommended by the agricultural indicators by OECD (2001), I would try to access the environmental quality of different type of agricultural practices such as:
  • Organic Farms
  • Conventional Farms
  • Ferticulture (High-Tech) Farms
  • Watercrest Farming
  • Seasonal Food Crops
  • Niche Food Crops
  • Exporters
  • Domestic Producers
  • Farms certified with GAP (good agricultural practices)
  • Farms funded by Singapore government

In addition to these information, there will also be look into the historical change in environmental in the area through secondary literature to give a better background benchmark.

Hopefully we will then be able to express these information in 2 matrix:

1. One would be a performance assessment of different type of vegetables grown through different methods and circumstances. What vegetables should you not consume under what methods of production and from what country?

2. The other would be to assess the sustainability performance of different type of farming methods measured against the benchmark of convention farming. Which is more sustainable yet taking into account productivity?

3. Using food miles calculation and selected examples analyzing the overall system from production to transport to consumption as well as physical conditions, how does indonesia compares against malaysia. Is state intervention more effective than the exercising of consumer power? Which source is more sustainable?

Research Questions:
1) How much of the environment in producing areas influence by Singapore? Positive or Negative?

2) If Singaporeans demand for more sustainably produced products will that change the environmental quality of producing country? Will this contribute to long term environmental security and in turn food security for Singapore?

3) What are Singaporeans demanding for and what should they choose to buy if they wish to impact environment positively? Can they influence farmers through government intervention?

4) Are government interventions making a substantial impact? Is this motivated by consumer safety and demands as well?

EIA of Sentosa IR Development

For my Environmental Management and Assessment class, we were tasked to do an EIA of the Sentosa IR development prior to its construction. Yes, we pretend nothing has happened yet and write most idealistically.

Pretend this big hole is not here

Honestly the report we did was rushed and done so badly. I wanted to write 2,500 houses built at Sentosa Cove but instead wrote 2,5000 and nobody caught it while editing! Grrr, there are more mistakes like that. But having already submitted that, I think we should move forward.

Today at 6pm will be the presentation of our report. The powerpoint file is 16MB so I am not able to upload it on Google Documents. Instead I've fully utilized my server space with Lham and uploaded the entire powerpoint presentation.

If anybody is interested, this is my group's idea of how an EIA should be done on a project like the Sentosa IR. You can download the file here [PPT:16MB] if you feel like reading what we've come up with. I would not say it is the best that can be done but then it's been done within 2 weeks. Furthermore, in terms of scope and impacts studied, it's definitely more directed than the EIA actually commissioned by Resorts World which focus mainly on impact of the IR on the cruise center at Harborfront.

Furthermore, since a lot of the report is "play pretend" as we did not have the resources or time to actually do a real baseline study, everything you see in the report is based on surveys done by WildSingapore (marine) and Joe Lai (terrestrial). Sadly, I must admit that I had to overlook a lot of inaccuracies like the fact that the terrestrial plant list is actually of Siloso forest and not of the mount imbiah forest but I passed it off as the Mount Imbiah forest species list! It's mainly to give an idea on the type of data needed.

Joe Lai showing us on the map where the affected forest is

This is also not a full EIA report. It's just a summary based on the format given by the Asian Development Bank where they give the specific type of sections needed and how many pages per section. The reason why the ADB EIA reporting style is chosen is mainly part of the assignment requirements.

I am mainly in charge of the Description of Environment and Public Consultation section. Naturally, my area of expertise. I found a very interesting Geography honors thesis done in 1993 that talks about the physical changes to 3 offshore islands in Singapore - namely Kusu, St Johns and Sentosa. That report was exceedingly useful. Although personally I think the public consultation could have been done better if we had better communication and integration amongst my group of 7. Complicated but I shan't go into it. I'm just glad it's over.

Related Links

Photos of the construction at Sentosa.
Powerpoint file of my EIA report presentation. [16MB]

The presentation in class yesterday went really well. All 3 judges (lecturers on the marking panel) were very happy with our suggestion and presentation. We were able to provide historical examinations of the site and suggest not a no-go zone but to integrate the forest in with the development. Ultimately this site is really the best site on Sentosa to go ahead but to reclaim was a really bad idea. Thus the best mitigation would be to aspire for a truly green design at the site. To aspire towards the green mark award would be an excellent move for Genting if they wish to mitigate their own impacts on the environment. Still, really happy to know that our EIA report did well for the presentation.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Individual Essay for DE5106

I am wondering which of the following questions should I choose:
1. Placing a monetary value on the environment is beneficial. Discuss.

2. Environmental problems cannot be solved without firstly addressing poverty. Discuss

3. How can we measure Sustainable Development? Is it beneficial to do so?

4. Describe the process through which a company must go to gain ISO14001 certification, and discuss the benefits and limitations of ISO14001 certification.

5. Describe the mechanisms for climate change control under the Kyoto Protocol. What are the implications for Annex 1 and Annex II countries. Are these mechanisms sufficient to manage climate change?

6. Describe the approaches that can be used to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments. What makes a good EIA?

7. Is environmental reporting just “greenwash”?
What do you guys suggest? Knowing me and my expertise, I am considering #1, #2 or #7. Comments?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moving Office

Just heard that there will be 7 new grad students next semester. One of which will be a new PhD student from Bangladesh who will be supervised by Prof. Yet another very bright student. How do I compare? Maybe it will be good not being his only student as well.

What has this got to do with moving office?

Well a little bird told me that I may be getting the opportunity to move to a bigger office downstairs. While that is something I have been yearning for since Day 1, I suddenly feel a sense of loss. I've really begun to feel for this place!

Loss of freedom. Loss of liberty to decorate the office door as if I am the only occupant (which I virtually am). Loss of easy accessibility to toilet. Loss of easy accessibility to supervisor office. Loss of space to sun my plants! Loss of easier accessibility to canteen. Loss of ability to call myself Harry Potter of Geog Dept.

What would I gain?

Gain of space. Gain of clean office that doesn't smell musky and dusty triggering my allergies. Gain of easy accessibility to pantry. Gain of company with people I get along. Gain of easy access to offices. Gain of easy accessibility from bus stop - less flight of stairs to climb.

I really don't know. I feel torn. But hearing that next semester 7 new people will squeeze in this small hole with me made me agree straight away. *sigh* I wonder if it's a wrong move.

Planning Ahead 2008

- IRB settled
- Local Fieldwork
- Local Field Work
- Visit Brastagi or Pekanbaru
- Local Field Work
- Finish ISM
- Oxford conference
- Thai Fieldtrip?
- Thai Fieldtrip?
- SEAGA Conference
- family visit in Germany
- Cameron Highlands / Indonesia
- Cameron Highlands / Indonesia
- Fieldwork / TA
- Fieldwork / Ta
- Fieldwork / TA
- Writing

Going to Oxford

Prof thinks I should go. Just need to ask for funding if I don't want a big hole in my pocket.

My sister thinks I should go. If I arrange to meet up with professors in Oxford, it'll be further worth my while.

I think this is a good chance to meet up with my good friend in UK. Only if he is free... now if he'll only come online...

So I guess this kinda means that there is an 80% chance that I will be going to Oxford next April. I will be giving Boston a miss. That's the American Association of Geographers conference.

What does the conference calendar look like?

April 08 - Oxford (Food Security and Global Env Change)
April 08 - Boston (AAG)
June 08 - Philippines (SEAGA)
August 08 - Tunisia (IUG IGC)
2009 - AAG
2009 - IUG IGC

I only get $2000 for my entire candidature. That means that I can probably pay for one international and one regional for my entire Masters and be done with it. I'm definitely going Philippines but should I go Tunisia? If I also go Oxford, then I will be extremely broke. Maybe I should skip Tunisia and only go for my "international" paid by university in 2009. I'm going to Oxford now mainly to learn. 2009 will be better time to mingle and get jobs, phds, what not.

Best not blow it all now in 2008.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Vegetables?

I guess this answers it all.
I love graphic visualization of data.

35% of our food consumption comprise of vegetables. Fruits are a fierce competitor but some how I do not feel that food constitutes part of the core diet. Of course if you don't eat fruits you will also get things like scurvy. However, fruits always feel like a luxury to me. I wonder if I can find books to justify this.

This graph was created using the AVA data on their website and it assumes per capita consumption using the population at the time. Therefore it assumes everybody in the population consumes pork when it doesn't. I'm just glad everybody consumes vegetables, even those carnivorous ones amongst us.

Why vegetables?

1) push for vegetarianism justified?
2) only food item consumed by all, no cultural or religious food taboos, only personal preferences variation
3) large percentage of our consumption by quantity and volume
4) large percentage of our import by volume but not by value as meat is more expensive to produce and consume. Understandably because they have to produce vegetables to feed the animals first before feeding us. Yet another reason to study vegetables - link to point (1)
5) large volume of perishable vegetables - does vegetables have to be fresh and therefore must have a nearby source? still need to be verified.

I'm still trying to pin down one hardcore objective in my research rather than flying all over the place but it's been hard. I've been greedy.


1) Do we really have an impact on vegetable productions in exporting countries?
2) Or do producing countries have more impact on us?
3) Does environmental degradation and change affect domestic population more than food-dependent importing countries like Singapore?
4) Who has the power in affecting the environment of agricultural production?
5) Do the different types of production method and external intervention make a difference?
6) Can adjusting consumption practices really improve conservation (environmental quality of farming area)?

1) Quantify environmental quality
2) Understand processes that affect environmental quality
3) Answer above questions through data collected from (1) and (2)

Monday, October 29, 2007

31st International Geographical Congress

Date: August 12 - 15
Venue: Tunis, Tunisia
Cost: 455 euro (students)
Accomodation: 39 euro (cheapest, single, breakfast included)
Deadline for submission: ??

Possible sessions:

C.T.2. The Actors, or the Strategic Approach to the Territory
While situating our reflection in a participatory perspective, this axis will deal mainly with the actors. It will allow us to discuss the role of the local actors, of the national State, supranational organizations, etc.
Special emphasis could be put on the strategies of the actors and on the modalities of their adaptation to the configuration of the territories.
Three axes for reflection are suggested:
- The categories of actors (State, locals, NGOs, social groups, etc.)
- The extent of involvement of the actors (concerned agent, decision-making agent, etc.)
- The strategies of the actors.

The last one is definitely my honors thesis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My office space at Day 83

To combat the problem of ants in my office in a chemical-free way, I bought a pitcher plant. Unfortunately the species is an exotic but cultivated therefore no issue of poaching (I hope).

Now the plant-count on my desk stands at 2 and I created a "green corner" with Evie's gift from the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto right in the middle.

The desk is a little bit more tidy recently because I have been doing some housekeeping but before that it was stacked with papers - mainly reports from students that I am grading half way. Now these papers are on another unoccupied table! haha Consuming more resources through territorial expansion! Sad but true.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First teaching session!

So many firsts today but the most significant one is probably the first tutorial I taught on my own in my life in a university! I prepared the slides myself, prepared the class outline and syllabus. I even came up with the class activity. I am really one of those people that bring lots of things to tutorial to make it enriching for the students ala the PHD Comics girl. I even incorporated a survey into the tutorial so I can compile some data on environmental knowledge of students!

The first tutorial was really good. The class is really small so I got to talk to each of them. Blame it on first time jitters but then I got lost to the first tutorial. I forgot where it was and had to trouble D.P to help me! After the 1st tutorial, I was on such a roll that I forgot the next one is at 12pm instead of 10am! What a blunder. D.P had to help me call D.H on the phone at 10am. He was probably enjoying weather at home.

Nonetheless, all the blunders aside, the class itself was really good. Students in the first class discussed Vesak Day Operation No Release, Hopea Sangal and Bring your own bag day. I showed ICCS wordpress blog, changi website and operation no release poster and article on my blog!

I love how I have all my resources online. I think the students realized that as well. A quick feedback from the class saw that most of them enjoyed the class and learnt something new! Good enough for me. It feels just like a guiding session haha. It probably shouldn't but the guide instincts take over straightaway! What more, I'm talking about the same topics as when I am guiding! Even D.S says that it's probably a piece of cake for me. haha I won't say that but I will say that it's extremely enjoyable :)

Alright, time for the next tutorial! I better make my move now :)

Nature Conservation in Singapore

Just finished my slides for the nature conservation in singapore presentation, due for its inaugural screening tomorrow at 8am, during my first nature and society tutorial this semester.

Pretty excited. Uploaded the slides on google documents for my animal friends to view.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First Tutorial Next Week

This comics strip is really disturbing. It was first published recently, so close to my first tutorial session next week. It's almost like a foreboding premonition!

Argh! I prepared lecture notes, handouts with extra problems and I rehearsed the examples too!


Ok well I'm not an engineer so there's no way I did that but I really put in a lot of effort. I chose several case studies, and prepared a list of things I wanted to say in class!

I'll even bake cookies for them too! ... that is if I know how to bake.

Well, I haven't even really prepare the slides yet. Still busy marking their assignments. Now I'm just really disturbed by some comments about the article I'm writing for SEC. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Proof that GMO can harm environment?

Genetically Engineered Corn May Harm Stream Ecosystems
National Science Foundation
October 9, 2007

Graduate ECAs

This semester I've gotten involved in:

Faculty Applicants Review Committee
Department Ethical Review Committee

It may sound glam at first but all I can say is that all these ECAs are really bad for research health. Think I shall take the profs advice and try to stay away from these things in future semesters. If I can!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A mixed diet is still better than vegetarianism?

A report from Cornell University reports that "Diet with Some Meat Uses Less Land than Vegetarian Diets".
"Surprisingly, however, a vegetarian diet is not necessarily the most efficient in terms of land use," said Peters.

The reason is that fruits, vegetables and grains must be grown on high-quality cropland, he explained. Meat and dairy products from ruminant animals are supported by lower quality, but more widely available, land that can support pasture and hay. A large pool of such land is available in New York state because for sustainable use, most farmland requires a crop rotation with such perennial crops as pasture and hay.

Thus, although vegetarian diets in New York state may require less land per person, they use more high-valued land. "It appears that while meat increases land-use requirements, diets including modest amounts of meat can feed more people than some higher fat vegetarian diets," said Peters.

"The key to conserving land and other resources with our diets is to limit the amount of meat we eat and for farmers to rely more on grazing and forages to feed their livestock," said Jennifer Wilkins, senior extension associate in nutritional sciences who specializes in the connection between local food systems and health and co-authored the study with Gary Fick, Cornell professor of crop and soil sciences. "Consumers need to be aware that foods differ not only in their nutrient content but in the amount of resources required to produce, process, package and transport them."
But I think what they are describing is essentially a more subsistent agriculture and would not be suitable for intensive, high-profit margin type agricultural production. Therefore, a lot of what is required for this system to succeed is to critically reduce meat consumption and also to develop a better local food system. This all depends on the crop rotation with hay that is the practice in the temperate countries. I am not very sure how this works in tropical areas but many small-scale farms, especially some organic farms, breed animals like chicken and vegetable to create a close loop of animal dungs for fertilizer and some veg for feed while having diet of both.

Somebody should do a life cycle assessment comparison of various diets.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ecological Footprint of Asia

Marine ecological footprint of the live reef fish food trade
K Warren-Rhodes, Y Sadovy, H Cesar - SPC Live Reef Fish Information Bulletin, 2004

Asia-Pacific Region 2005: The Ecological Footprint and Natural Wealth
M Progress, T Sustainability, C Profiles -

Ecosystem appropriation by Hong Kong and its implications for sustainable development
K Warren-Rhodes, A Koenig - Ecological Economics, 2001

Water Footprint

Books on ecological footprint and indicators

The new indicators of well-being and development / Jean Gadrey and Florence Jany-Catrice.
Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
HSSML Books HD75 Gad 2006

Sustainable development indicators in ecological economics
Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar Pub., c2006.
CL Books HC79 Env.Su 2006

Impact of rich countries' policies on poor countries : towards a level playing field in development cooperation / Robert Picciotto & Rachel Weaving, editors.
New Brunswick : Transaction Publishers, c2004
CL Books HD82 Imp 2004

Quantifying sustainable development : the future of tropical economies / edited by Charles A. S. Hall ; associate editors, Carlos Leon Perez, Gregoire Leclerc.
San Diego, Calif. : Academic Press, 2000.
CL Books HC695 *Env.Qu
CL Closed Stacks (Loans Desk 3) HC695 *Env.Qu cd-rom

The business of consumption : environmental ethics and the global economy / edited by Laura Westra and Patricia H. Werhane.
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, c1998.
CL Books GE42 Bus

Sustainable measures : evaluation and reporting of environmental and social performance / edited by Martin Bennett and Peter James with Leon Klinkers.
Sheffield : Greenleaf Publishing, 1999
CL Closed Stacks HD30.255 Sus

Sustainability indicators : measuring the immeasurable? / Simon Bell and Stephen Morse.
London : Earthscan Publications, 2005.
CL Books GE140 Bel 2005

Handbook of ecological indicators for assessment of ecosystem health [electronic resource] / edited by Sven E. Jørgensen, Robert Costanza, Fu-Liu Xu.
Boca Raton : Taylor & Francis, c2005.

Environmental Indicators

Measuring environmental quality in Asia / Peter P. Rogers ... [et al.].
Published by the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University and the Asian Development Bank, 1997.
CL Books TD193 Mea

Community indicators measuring systems / edited by Rhonda Phillips.
Aldershot, Hants, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2005
CL RBR HN110 Com.C 2005

Development of environment statistics in developing Asian and Pacific countries.
Manila : Asian Development Bank, 1999.
CL Reference GE160 Asi.De

Indicators of sustainable development in industrializing countries / Peter J. Peterson.
Bangi : Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1997-
CL Books GE160 Dev.Pe v. 1
CL Books GE160 Dev.Pe v.5

Kompendium perangkaan alam sekitar = Compendium of environmental statistics : Malaysia 2004 / Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia.
Putrajaya, [Selangor] : Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia, 2005
CL SMC HA1792 Mkp 2004

Ecological indicators [electronic resource]

Agriculture and biodiversity : developing indicators for policy analysis : proceedings from an OECD Expert Meeting, Zurich, Switzerland, November 2001.
Paris, France : Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, c2003.
CL Books S494.5 Agr.Ag 2003

Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture and the environment : papers presented at the International Conference on Agriculture and the Environment, 10-13 November 1991 / edited by C.A. Edwards ... [et al.].
Amsterdam : Elsevier, 1993.
Science Closed Stacks S494.5 Sus.Iae

Environmental impact assessment : guidelines for agricultural development
New York : United Nations, 1990.
LAW TD194.6 Env

Measuring environmental degradation : developing pressure indicators for Europe / edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale.
Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA : Edward Elgar, 2001
CL Books GE160 Eur.M

Measuring & modelling sustainable development / Ian Moffatt, Nick Hanley & Mike D. Wilson.
New York : Parthenon Pub. Group, c2001
CL Books HC79 Env.Mf

Ecological indicators for the nation / Committee to Evaluate Indicators for Monitoring Aquatic and Terrestrial Environments ... [et al.].
Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press, 2000
SDE Information Resource centre QH541.15 Ind.Ec (long term loan?)

Urban sustainability indicators / Voula Mega and Jorn Pedersen.
Dublin, Ireland : European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 1998.
CL Books HT169 Eur.Me

Agriculture, trade, and the environment : discovering and measuring the critical linkages / edited by Maury E. Bredahl ... [et al.].
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press , c1996.
CL CLosed Stacks HF1379 Agr

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Presentations of the Week

Grad life is overwhelmed with presentations. I do not feel I have the ability to make good presentations any more. In fact, quality is dropping with every presentation I make. Diminishing returns.

My presentation skills were something I take pride in before but now, I am no longer sure about that.

Either way I have uploaded my presentations on Google Documents.

First was a research statement and literature review presentation for my Methods in Environmental Science module. I got a B+ in it because lecturers felt that I did not have a focus - too broad. But I agree and now we are working on developing an indicator instead.

Second was a talk on "Nature at Work" I gave the Industrial Design students from ID2221 who are doing eco-designs and biomimicry. It was a more general talk on places in Singapore and also the type of adaptations and cool relationships there are in nature. The presentation online is a practically image-less slide because the original file is 24MB and google documents only take 10MB. Just thought I'll store it for adaptation in future talks.

New books

Handbook of sustainable development
Giles Atkinson, Simon Dietz, Eric Neumayer (2006)
Northampton, MA : Elgar
Linc Link

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More keywords

urban food systems
sustainable urban food systems
urban food security

landscape ecology [journal]
agricultural ecology
agroecology [article]
"ecology of food systems"
virtual water

Monday, September 24, 2007

PhD thoughts

I know I shouldn't be thinking about this now but mindless reproduction of books and a conversation with the boss gave me inspiration.

Rethinking conservation and sustainable cities: a global review

different definitions, angles, types of conservation and a western vs southern / developing / asian level of sustainability. different issues that surrounds it. what are the primary data? sustainability indicators, policies, types of research, activism, etc.

New thoughts @ 3 Oct
Continuing in developing indicators for consumption

Friday, September 21, 2007

Desperate times calls for desperate measures

Was supposed to go Cameron with Duck and Evie on wednesday but then Evie suddenly may have to withdraw and now I'm desperately short of traveling companions.

In fact I was so desperate that I'm harassing Huaqin, posting on facebook and emailing toddycats!
I am conducting a recce field trip to Cameron Highlands (CH) for my research and fellow toddycat, Marcus Ng, will be driving us up to CH.

Dates: 26 - 28 September 2007 (wed - fri)
Cost: Approximately SGD$200.

We are looking for somebody to join us. Sorry for the late notice but we suddenly had a last minute change in crew and now we have vacancy for 1-2 persons to join us. Cost will be lower if we have more people.

You are not obliged to follow me around on my field work and can feel free to explore CH by yourself. But if you are interested to come along, I will be going to vegetable farms as well as the 3-4 towns around CH. Of course Marcus is dying for his tea and scone at the Lakehouse.


930am Depart from NUS
1130am Arrive JB
730pm Arrive Cameron


Recce Cameron!

9am Depart Cameron after breakfast
12nn Lunch at KL
7pm Arrive in Singapore

Bala's Holiday Chalet
3 persons in 1 room or 4 persons in 2 rooms

We will be renting a car in Johor Bahru and driving up to CH.

I need to confirm urgently so please let me know within the week by Sunday 23 September. Email me at guanacomonkey at gmail dot com

Thursday, September 20, 2007

lazy afternoon at arts canteen

I'm beginning to be very fond of the sea breeze and view at Arts Canteen. It's such an inspiration place that has prompted me to work without fail.

While having lunch and waiting for some media students from NTU to come ask me questions that doesn't deserved to be answered (I must be catching the mean bug from Ria), I decided to take a picture of me enjoying my favourite ice lemon tea at the news arts canteen. I look kinda stupid but don't mind me.

I just loved the look on the girl in front of me at the drink stall when the uncle directly addressed me without me having said a word, "ice lemon tea without straw right?" hehe I love it.

Ok, I should be getting to the department now to get my GPS unit, check out maps of cameron and working out the funding claim.

For those who haven't caught this on facebook and twitter, Duck and Evie has kindly sacrificed their time and company to go with me to Cameron Highlands next Wednesday to Friday for my recce trip. The place looks gianormous. Good luck to me.

Going to have dinner with Ria tonight to discuss the guide workshop at SBWR next Saturday. My environmental management and assessment class will also be going for the talk before the workshop. Then a walk at Sentosa after the animals sushi party at 5.30pm. Next weekend after that, Joe Lai will be leading the class on a walk.

Recently I've gotten in touch with Daniel Goh whom I quote way too much in my honors thesis. Mainly because he's the only other person in Singapore who has published so recently on the topic. I am hoping to meet him next Wednesday, right before I fly off to (I mean drive of to) Cameron Highlands. Duck will be driving and I am really hoping Ham will be able to join us as well.

Speaking of Daniel Goh - he's actually a blogger and contributor on Singapore Angle. I even have him on facebook. Well, let's see. He's also recently published a book chapter on Chek Jawa. I've emailed him and he's very encouraging. I hope to get him to edit my paper for me before I send it to publishing. Oh right, what paper! I haven't even had time to do shit. Yes, not even shit.

On the research front, I must quickly do more readings on Cameron before my trip and brush up my Bahasa Melayu.

Lastly, last tuesday saw my first time directly addressing the students of N&S. It caused quite a stir at first. And I gave them the wrong info about tutorial. Crap. Saw a student in the class at the canteen just now and he said Nature and Society felt like a philosophy class. He's a birder no less. Well, I couldn't resist plugging my tutorial session so I told him to come for my tutorial - I'll be talking about Nature Conservation and I promise no concepts. Ok, I lied. Conservation is a concept and so is social capital. Crap ass. Ok, a lot of swearing today. Just reflecting my general state of mental being.

Oh I won't even begin on how I sounded like an idiot at the Department Graduate Tea. I had a brain freeze with the whole entire faculty and grad students staring on. HOD said at least I sounded smart before - now I'm just stupid. She say she expects a breakdown form me soon. Oh great. I'm right about there now.

Made my visa application for US just now and I'm really looking forward to it though scared of course. Interview date booked for 18 October. Good luck to me!

I realize that September is almost over *panic* better back to work instead of lazing around here updating on graduate life and enjoying the breeze! It does make me poetic though. hah

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Environmental Issues in Singapore Presentation

Previously, I wrote about my presentation for the Environmental Management and Assessment class where I presented about the issue of air pollution in Singapore - a supposedly non-issue in Singapore.

I was rather worried that I would score badly for the presentation but instead I got a pleasant surprise the other day.
"Dear Monkey,

You have an A for this presentation.

The lecturer’s comment is: - Insightful. A well chosen topic."
A pleasant surprise indeed. I'm considering uploading my slides online.

Update: I have uploaded my slides on Google Documents.

Water Management at SBWR

Finally a written publication on the water management regime at SBWR to maintain the bird population. Was just looking for something like this for the tutorial I'm teaching on Nature Conservation.

The blog posts on Bird Ecology Study Group was quoting SBWR newsletter so I better get my hands on one of those. I think they have online versions. But upon looking through the website, I find that it's not updated! I emailed NParks asking for an online version of the latest issues but I forgot to tell them to update their site but I guess it's implied? When they reply I shall make it more obvious but just in case it is now at another page. SBWR website definitely does not have it. I also asked to be put on the mailing list for Nparks newsletters. It's just too bad I didn't pick up a copy of Wetlands yesterday when I was at SBWR!

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve: Water Regime Management, BESG
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve: Bird population, BESG

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

SEAGA Conference

International conferences aside, I am supposed to attend some regional conferences and the best one for the region in relation to Geography is the Southeast Asian Geography Association Conference.

The next one will be held from 3-6 June 2008, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City.

The theme will be
"Transformations and Embodiments in Southeast Asian Geographies: Changing Environments, People and Cultural Groups, Institutions and Landscapes"
Nothing would suit my honors thesis better.

Topics for paper proposals/panels include the following:
1. environment
2. gender and migration
3. hazards and mitigation
4. development and sustainability
5. culture and politics
6. geographic education
7. urban geography

I'm just going to send in my abstract and wish for the best. Abstracts are due 14 January 2008.

I've asked my prof and he said he would like to attend the conference in the "loooong vacation". bleh. To think I'm supposed to be doing my field work during that time!

I cannot deny that the lure of visiting Mount Pinatubo as one of the field visits of this conference is irresistible!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Visit to Kranji Countryside

Seeing as how I have to mark about 120 assignments in October pertaining to a field trip report of 2 farmpreneurs at the Kranji Countryside, I thought it would be useful to pay it a long overdue visit.

In addition, with 2 photographers as companions, I thought it would be additionally important for them to assist me in taking a photo worthy of the department noticeboard. A photo was due last Monday but my photo was rejected. My very brief research interest writes "sustainable food consumption-production systems, conservation, urban ecology".

A photo befitting of my research interest which at the same time describes my personal interests and portray an appropriate image of myself was of utmost importance. The above photo was the result. I think it'd do.

Printed a copy and will submit tomorrow. For now, a presentation on map and photographs as a methodology in restorative ecology is due tomorrow and I'm only half way through the reading!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Singapore. Part 8 of 11; Agriculture

30 July 2007
Asia & Pacific Review World of Information


Only 3 per cent of Singapore’s land area is used for agriculture. Singapore has some 2,000 licensed farms producing poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruit, orchids (both for domestic demand and export) and ornamental plants. Less than 6 per cent of fresh vegetables is produced locally, with the rest imported from Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Australia.

Although agriculture plays only a minor role in Singapore’s economy, the Primary Production Department promotes intensive farming methods. Agri-technology parks have been developed on 554 hectares of land in Murai, Sungai Tengah, Nee Soon and Loyang.

The effect of bird flu on the consumption of poultry showed a drop in production from the low 72,578 tonnes in 2004, rising to 83,861 tonnes in 2005, from the average 92,000 tonnes per annum before the outbreaks became public in 2003. The consumption of eggs was unaffected.

Estimated crop production in 2005 included: 130 tonnes (t) coconuts, 17t oilcrops, 10t roots and tubers, 10t fruit in total, 5,801t vegetables in total. Livestock production included: 104,934t meat in total, 35t beef, 21,000t pig meat, 27t lamb, 11t goat meat, 83,861t poultry, 22,000t eggs.


With limited agricultural and water resources, there is little scope for the development of Singapore’s fisheries, although fish is an important component of the Singaporean diet. Singapore relies mainly on imports for domestic consumption. The government’s priority is to increase imports through trade relations. The quality of Singapore’s own catch is often decsribed as poor. Rapid urbanisation and development have damaged natural habitats and caused the quality of inshore fish to deteriorate.

In 2004, the total marine fish catch was 1,533 tonnes and the total crustacean catch was 366 tonnes.

Forests constitute only 7 per cent of the total land area of Singapore. There are three major forest reserves – Bukit Timah , Palau Ubin and Sungei Buloh. Singapore produces plywood and veneer and imports pulp and paper. Timber imports in 2004 were US$533.1 million, while exports amounted to US$451.3 million.

Timber production in 2004 included 355,000cum wood-based panels, including 280,000cum plywood and 65,000cum veneer sheets.

Books I want to have

Southgate D., Graham D, Tweeten D (2007) The World Food Economy. Blackwell Publishing.

Moran E (2006) People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations. Blackwell Publishing.

Bourlakis M and Weightman P (2004) Food Supply Chain Management. Blackwell Publishing.

Morgan R C P (2005) Soil Erosion and Conservation. Blackwell Publishing.
S623 Mor 2005 Central Library

Note to self:
Journal of Agrarian Change
Find out more about Emilio Moran
what has singapore done right? why no protest?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Finalized Journals

Decided on the following journals and angle for publishing HT.

Human Ecology focusing on harnessing social capital and networks in nature conservation.

Asia Pacific Viewpoint for the events leading up to the "saving", the history and dichotomy between development and environment, the politics and interplay of factors.

Updates @ 5 Apr 2008 - More possible journals:
Environmental History
Cyclical evolution or asymmetrical warfare?

Environment and Behaviour
Future publication for master thesis

Environment and Planning A
Environmental problems that a city faces. Identifying the problems.

Anything environmental!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Submitted for the department website:
Ecological Shadow of Singapore's Vegetable Imports

The concept of ecological shadow or "shadow ecology" refers to the environmental impact of one country's economy on resource and environmental management in another country or area (Dauvergne, 1997). This involves examining both the consumption and production from inputs, through distribution to consumption and disposal, as integrated production and consumption systems. In addition, processes such as the mechanism of price, the creation of wants and consumption along with corporate and governmental practices, investments, developmental aid, and regulations, as well as production processes in the producing country and its various policies, politics, corporations mechanism and regulations are under scrutiny.

Although all countries cast ecological shadows, highly industrialized states with few natural resources tend to draw more environmental resources and in turn have large ecological shadows. Singapore being a small island state with a population of 4 million and little natural resources presents itself as a prime case study in the region. Singapore is a rare example of a country with high food dependency, importing 95% of total vegetable consumption in Singapore. 48% of Singapore’s total vegetable imports come from Malaysia, making it an excellent study site for examining the ecological impact of Singapore’s consumption on its environment. A baseline environmental impact assessment as well as historical change will be examined to determine the possible interrelations and impacts between source and destination countries.

With the onslaught of climate change added with greater environmental awareness of food safety, environmental protection and the push for organic farming, this study hopes to study in depth the dynamics within food systems. By understanding the processes and impacts of entire food systems, points of leverage for improving sustainability can be identified, along with possible policies and management implications.
Research Interests:
Sustainable Agri-food consumption-production systems, nature conservation, urban ecology

Friday, August 31, 2007

Conference of Interest

Food Security and Environmental Change
2-4 April, 2008
University of Oxford, UK

International Conference on sustainable production and consumption
From Corporate Governance to Citizen-Consumers
18-20 Sept, 2008
Laval University, Quebec City, Canada

8th Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable consumption and production
17-19 September 2008
Cebu, Philippines

The International Symposium on Cities and Conservation
6-7 November 2007
Putrajaya, Malaysia

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2008
Geographies That Matter
Conference Chair: Professor Noel Castree, Manchester University
27-29 August 2008
RGS-IBG, London

2008 AAG Annual Meeting

April 15-19
Boston, MA
Graduate Student Affinity Group
Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group

22nd Annual Meeting of SCB
"From the Mountain to the Sea"
13-18 July 2008
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA--along the Tennessee River.

Ecocity World Summit 2008
22 - 26 April 2008
San Francisco, Ca, USA

Population Environment Research Network - Calendar Page
Conference Listing
Conference Listing

Conference Alerts
Conference Listing

Keywords and Themes

sustainable geography
sustainable food consumption
sustainable consumption
'Techno-Ethics' of Sustainable Living
agricultural/e geography
sustainable agriculture geography
sustainable development geography
sustainable production-consumption systems (SPACES)
food systems
Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) (UNESA Div for Sust Devt)
Consumers and globalization
Sustainable agriculture in face of free trade
sustainable agriculture/production/consumption in north-south context
sustainable supply
Environmental management systems (EMS),
private codes of conduct,
holistic approaches to sustainable production
Sustainable consumption research exchange (SCORE)
cities and conservation
Human Ecology (SHE)
Social Ecology
Cultural Ecology
Political Ecology

"Cultural and Political Ecology" Group in AAG
- Agriculture and Agricultural Development
- Capitalization of Life and Nature
- Ecosystem Change
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecoterrorism
- Ecotourism
- Environmental Activism
- Environmental Degradation
- Environmental Discourse
- Environmental Management
- Environmental Racism
- Functional Materialism
- Hazards Research
- Historical Ecology
- Indigenous land mapping
- Land Use, Land Cover, Land Change
- Land Tenure and Common Property
- Migration
- Nature Conservation and Social Justice
- Nature and Ethnic Politics
- Nature Privatization and the State
- Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
- Neoliberalism
- Political Economics
- Protected Area Policy and Management
- Pastoral Communities
- Subjectivity in Best Use Practice
- Sustainability and Vulnerability
- Sustainability Metrics
- Third-world Development
- Urban Ecology
- Urban Pollution and Remediation
- Water Management
- Wildlife Conservation

Multiple stresses as affecting vulnerability of food systems
Political and social value of food
climate forecasting for food security research
Responses of alternative food movements to climate change
Adaptation options and building adaptive capacity for food systems
Water and food security in the future
Trade and market reform for food system adaptation
Cross-scale interactions of food systems and Global Env Change
Governance of food systems
Scenarios for regional GEC/food security research
Biofuels and food security
Resilience of food systems
Tradeoffs between ecosystem services, food security and economic growth
food systems in a changing world
Food industry strategies for GEC adaptation and mitigation
Institutional and policy challenges for natural resource management for food security
Analysis of the international environmental assessments and food security
conflicts relating to food security and environmental change

kersty hobson

Research Fellow, Department of Human Geography
Australian National University

Research Interests

Non-governmental organisations; climate change justice; animal welfare geographies; practices and politics of sustainable consumption and sustainable communities; environmental governance; qualitative research methods.

Key Publications

* Competing discourses of sustainable consumption: Does the rationalisation of lifestyles make sense?’ Environmental Politics 11(2), 95-120, 2002.

* Consumption, sustainability and geography in Australia: A missing research agenda?’ Australian Geographical Studies, 41(2), 148-55, 2003.

* Thinking habits into action: The role of knowledge and process in questioning household consumption practices,’ Local Environment, 8(1), 95-112, 2003.

* Sustainable consumption in the United Kingdom: the responsible consumer and government at arm’s length’. Journal of Environment and Development, 10(3), 121-39, 2004.

* Researching sustainable consumption in Asia-Pacific cities.’ Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 45(2), 2004.

* Considering green practices: NGOs and Singapore’s emergent environmental-political space’. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 20(2), Special Issue on ‘Democracy and Civil Society: NGO Politics in Singapore’, 155-76, 2005. (with S. Niemeyer and J. Petts) ‘Rapid climate change and society; assessing responses and thresholds’. Risk Analysis, 25(6), 1443-1456, 2005.

* Enacting environmental justice in Singapore: performative justice and the Green Volunteer Network’. GeoForum, 37(5), 671-681, 2006.

* Bins, bulbs and shower timers: on the techno-ethics of sustainable living’. Ethics, Place and Environment, 9(3), 335-354, 2006.

* Environmental psychology and the geographies of ethical and sustainable consumption: aligning, triangulating, challenging?’ Area, 38(3), 292-300, 2006.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reading List

Ryan Bishop, John Phillips and Yeo Wei-Wei (2004) Beyond Description : Singapore Space Historicity London, New York Taylor & Francis
Chapter 2: Of Trees and the Heartland: Singapore’s Narratives1
Chapter 5: At Home in the Worlds: Community and Consumption in Urban Singapore
Chapter 12: Intelligent Island, Baroque Ecology

Richard Wilk eds. (2006) Fast food/slow food : the cultural economy of the global food system. Lanham, MD : Altamira Press.

Mustafa Koc et al eds. (1999) For hunger-proof cities : sustainable urban food systems. Ottawa : International Development Research Centre.

Peter Dauvergne (1997) Shadows in the forest : Japan and the politics of timber in Southeast Asia. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.

Peter Knoepfel ed. (2007) Environmental policy analyses : learning from the past for the future - 25 years of research. New York : Springer.

Mark Q. Sutton and E.N. Anderson (2004) Introduction to cultural ecology. Walnut Creek, CA : AltaMira Press.

Paul C Stern et al. eds. (1997) Environmentally significant consumption : research directions. Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, National Research Council. Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press

Sean X. Liu. 2007. Food and agricultural wastewater utilization and treatment. Blackwell

Graaff, J. de. 1996. The price of soil erosion : an economic evaluation of soil conservation and watershed development. Leiden, Neitherlands : Wageningen Agricultural University

Terrence J. Toy, George R. Foster, Kenneth G. Renard. 2002. Soil erosion : processes, predicition, measurement, and control. New York : John Wiley & Sons

Michael Stocking and Niamh Murnaghan. 2001. Handbook for the field assessment of land degradation. London, UK : Earthscan Publications Ltd.

R.P.C. Morgan. 2005. Soil erosion and conservation 3rd Edition. Oxford : Blackwell Pub

Frederick R. Troeh, J. Arthur Hobbs, Roy L. Donahue. 2004. Soil and water conservation for productivity and environmental protection 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall

Steven C. Hackett. 1998. Environmental and Natural Resources Economics. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Environmental Legislation in SG

An excellent list from NEA website on Environmental Legislations in Singapore

Singapore Statutes Online also helpful. Very detailed law-language.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Research Update on 14Aug07

1) Called Lily at AVA and found out that vegetable imports stats are available from Ministry of Trade and Industry, International Enterprise Singapore.

2) Went to IE Singapore website and found out statistics publication cost money. so called their hotline. At hotline, asked for the operator which transfered me to Tricia. Tricia informed me that to get the stats free I can go to their Library at Bugis Junction Office Tower Level 7. Opened 9-6pm on Mon to Fri. There, the librarian can help me find specific cities possibly.

3) Called Lily at AVA again to find out if they know the cities and was informed that they don't. Asked if they are the secretariat of the Singapore Fruits and Vegetable Importers and was told they are unrelated. Was given the phone number for SFV (page 13 Aug). Must ask SFV where they import from. Must ask her who in charge of Riau Vegetable Project. She also told me there is no accreditation for vegetables, unlike meat products. Meat products they have site inspection but mostly accreditation is done on government-government level. They welcome all fresh fruits and vegetables and only do inspection at point of entry. They quarantine briefly to run labtest on residues, etc. Check if can interview her - questions on page 14Aug.

4) Did a newspaper check on factiva and found no news on Brastagi but instead found the Riau vegetable project at Pekanbaru (capital of Riau) which was established in 2002 by AVA and Riau government with a total of $2million SGD and "benefit 550 farmers working on 10 farms spanning 11ha". Also found out that 70% of Singapore's vegetable import comes from Malaysia (year unsure) while 50% of Cameron Highland's produce is exported to Singapore (1999). Files are saved as "vegetable articles x.pdf" in the newspaper articles folder.

5) Checked with Ina on pekanbaru and she got me a contact from her friend Stepi who works for EU Commission in Indonesia. Stepi's collegemate from Bogor, Mustajab will connect me with businesses, govt and NGO in Pekanbaru. He already knows that I'm doing agriculture in Pekanbaru.

6) Savage suggest doing Pekanbaru and Brastagi then later decided just Pekanbaru will do but I am keeping Brastagi as an option. Must write full proposal ASAP.

7) Decided to go down to the IE Singapore library on Thursday.

8) A chat with Kenneth Pinto reminds me if our import really significantly affect that area and is vegetables significant to Singapore? Singaporeans consume 83kg of vegetable per year per capita. But 4 million of 83kg is a lot more but what percentage is this of total production in source country. Stats from food stats.pdf in the AVA Annual Report folder.

9) Got reminded about corporate airfare - must check with Pauline if airfare is required to be through school if I wish to claim.

10) Got a form to fill up for access to GIS lab. Must ask Higgitt if I need to use geolab for soil tests. Read up on methods.

My desk under the stairs

Welcome to my humble abode in NUS. I call this the cupboard under the stairs, like Harry Potter, I live under the stairs. What more, the unit number is damn auspicious. 444.

Maybe I will take another photo 3 months down and see if I've accumulated more things. For now, I think the room definitely lack some strong potpurri!

What can you spot on my desk? Join in the fun identifying things on flickr!

Environmental Issues in Singapore

For my DE5122 assignment presentation on environmental issues in Singapore:

Here are some numbers:

Exxon Mobile plant's total crude oil processing capacity is 309,000 barrels a day, according to the company's Web site.

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest listed oil and gas company by market capitalization, also operates another Singapore refinery with a 296,000-barrel-a-day capacity.

Source: International Business Times

Large point source of CO2 emission are listed as "large point sources, such as power plants, oil refineries and industrial processes".

"The refining process releases numerous different chemicals into the atmosphere; consequently, there are substantial air pollution emissions[7] and a notable odor normally accompanies the presence of a refinery. Aside from air pollution impacts there are also wastewater concerns,[2] upset risks of fire and explosion, and both occupational noise and environmental noise health effects." - Wikipedia

Lights from Bukom Shell Oil Refinery at night

Tuas Powerplant

"Gas pipelines linking the air separation plant (lower case) directly to the customer through the pipeline network ensure continuous and consistent supply of large quantities of gases. SOXAL has a network of more than 80 kilometres of oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen piping covering major parts of Jurong, Tuas and Jurong Island." - Soxal - a major gas supplier for all refineries in Singapore. SOXAL (Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide Pte Ltd) is owned by Air Liquide, France, the world's leaders in the manufacture and application of gases.

Shell’s Pulau Bukom Refinery – currently Shell’s largest refinery in the world

List of Oil Refineries in Singapore:
* ExxonMobil Jurong Island Refinery (ExxonMobil), 605,000 barrels per day
* SRC Jurong Island Refinery (Singapore Refining Corporation), 285,000 bpd
* Shell Pulau Bukom Refinery (Royal Dutch Shell), 458,000 bpd

Video Jug explains Oil Refinery
30 miles radius of Oil Refinery has high chance of cancer
Fugitive Emission - air pollution from refinery that's not under control - smoke stack are regulated but miles of pipes that move gas and partially processed products have vents that allow the gas to escape and emission which pollute air and soil
S02 - sulphur dioxide one of the key pollutants responsible for acid rain
Also responsible for fugitive Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) synonymous with NMVOC (Non­ methane VOC)

carbon emission of oil refinery in 1997/98
crude oil emissions coefficient per unit of energy 5.8 million Btu per barrel
emissions coefficient for crude oil is 20.24 million metric tons carbon per quadrillion Btu

Assuming 5.8 million btu per barrel,
Singapore's oil refinery process 1348000 barrels per day
producing 78,184,000,000,000 btu per day (0.078184 quadrillion btu)
or 28.53716 quadrillion btu a year
total carbon emission is 577.6 million metric tons carbon per year just from oil refineries alone
Converted to carbon dioxide emission, this is equivalent to 2086.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

Teaching Responsibilities

Met up with H who is the lecturer im assisting this sem.

My responsibilities include:
1) Attending first lecture, week 6 lecture (i.e. the test), week 8 lecture (when nature in the city will be discussed), and week 10 lecture.
2) Helm the lecture on Sept 18 (administering midterm test or perhaps even speak on something)
3) In charge of tutorials/discussions sessions for week 10 sessions on conservation.

It all sounds very exciting and I shall pull on my role model TAs who have left a memorable impression on me in my undergrad years - namely Cheng Puay and May.

Think I should start on the readings *gah* it's quite a lot and I must start thinking of what I will be speaking of in the class even though it's 2 months away!

Meanwhile I must prepare for the talk I am giving to the industrial design students.