BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Asia Pacific could triple its carbon emissions by 2050 if it continues its unsustainable use of resources, putting an unbearable strain on ecosystems at a time of mounting concerns over climate change and food, water and energy security, a new study by the United Nations and Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns.
Asia Pacific is currently the world’s largest and most inefficient resource user. According to 2005 statistics, the region required three times the input of both renewable and non-renewable resources as the rest of the world to produce a dollar of gross domestic product (GDP), the study released Thursday said.
In 2005 alone, Asia Pacific consumed around 32 billion tonnes of materials including biomass (such as wood), fossil fuels, metals and industrial and construction materials. If this trend continues, Asia Pacific is likely to be using 80 billion tonnes of materials by 2050, said an earlier U.N. study.
With an estimated carbon footprint of 2 753 250 t of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e), the FIFA 2010 World Cup, in South Africa, would have the largest carbon footprint of any major international sporting event, and would need major interventions to achieve the ambition of leaving a positive environmental legacy.
The massive footprint was largely owing to the significant distance that many international spectators would need to travel to get to South Africa. Because of its location, almost all international visitors would need to fly to the country.
In fact, 67% of the carbon footprint (1,86-million tons) was attributed to international travel. However, excluding international travel, the 2010 FIFA World Cup was still more than eight times the size of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany.
How dirty are the cars on our roads – even though most of the Dodges and Chevrolets aren’t sold here.
Just because a car has low fuel efficiency doesn’t mean it’s the worst polluter on the road. The Chevrolet Suburban and Dodge Challenger are some of the biggest gas-gulpers available, but they don’t cause quite the environmental harm other cars do.
That title is reserved for vehicles that combine their poor gas mileage with high tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions. Think along the lines of some of the bulkiest cars on the road, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Dodge Dakota.
I am sure like me many of you have visited shops or businesses and were scorned when you were served a beverage in a Styrofoam cup! But you will or may be surprised to know that at this point in time that the scorned Styrofoam cup is in fact the most environmentally friendly choice of disposable cup!
How can this be? Quite simply paper cups are not plain paper cups. In order to provide structure to the cup it is constructed of multiple layers of which there will be a layer of plastic or foil which is anything but bio-degradable. If you read the fine print of paper cup manufacturers they will say to check with your local council on whether recycling is available for these plastic or foil layers but the pragmatic truth is it is too hard to strip these layers and paper cups are really currently just not recyclable! 
Some manufacturers  have started to make paper cups with bio-film as opposed to foil or plastic. In these cases the paper cup is then full compostable or bio-degradable. That said, the commercial existence of these fully bio-degradable cups is next to non-existent but don’t let that stop you asking for one!
In addition, here are more facts on paper cups.
1. Paper production can cause almost twice as much CO2 emissions and energy consumption as creating plastic or styrofoam products 
2. Paper cups use more material by weight in order to achieve insulation properties as compared to styrofoam and plastic cups . Eg. Starbucks used to serve its coffee in 2 paper cups (double cupping) and now has evolved this practice with its “insulation sleeve”. 
3. The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup 
4. The paper cup costs 2.5 times more than the plastic cup to produce 
The bottom line is the lifecycle costs of disposable cups, comparing paper vs styrofoam or plastic the conclusion is that styrofoam cups are the most environmentally friendly option. 
If you have to use disposable cups, then styrofoam is currently the better environmental choice. The best option is to use your own ceramic, steel or glass mug .
As always, reducing, reusing and conserving saves far more energy and reduces ecological impact then recycling, which is typically a very energy intensive process.
Andy Ho from The Straits Times recently gave an interesting take on why Singapore should not commit to cutting its carbon emissions come 7 December 2009 at COP15.
In his commentary, Andy states that “9,209 scientists have signed up to www.petition-project.org to reject that global warming is caused by human activities “. He did not mention that a lot of those numbers are no longer current, since this petition was first active between the years of 1999 and 2001. It was only as recent as 2007 that the petition began recirculating, and many of the “scientists” are really PhD holders in mathematics, biology and medicine, and not climate science. In 2001, Scientific American did a random sampling on the “scientists” and found that some did not remember agreeing to it, some changed their minds about it, and one had since passed on.
Next, Andy brings up the case of Lord Christopher Monckton, who is said to be a former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Monckton works for the Heartland Institute – a think-tank funded by ExxonMobil to the tune of at least US$791,000 since 1998 – as a “global warming expert”, Roy Spencer, who is later mentioned in the commentary, also has close links to Heartland Institute, even though he says he does not receive funding from oil companies.
The commentary also doesn’t at all highlight that Dr. Steenburgh, who is mentioned later in the article, said 97.4 percent of active climate scientists believe human activity is a significant factor to global warming.
There are more points that Andy has raised, but we will leave it up to you to decide how believable it is:
Reasons for Singapore to be cool on global warming
Emissions cap will slow growth while scientific evidence is not clear-cut
Andy Ho, Straits Times 30 Oct 09
A NEW global warming treaty is set to be signed in Copenhagen come December.
Singapore will face pressure from countries like Japan and Australia to be listed as an Annex I country, subject to carbon emissions caps. Revealing this at a student forum last week, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore would resist such attempts.
AnnexI comprises industrialised countries that have to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) by 50per cent to 85per cent by 2050. Being an AnnexI country is only a small step away from a subset of AnnexII countries that have to transfer wealth to developing countries for the ‘climate debt’ the latter are owed.
Singapore is not listed on either annex. And it should stay that way. For one thing, it is not yet an OECD country. After all, a tiger economy is still part of the developing world. For another, as MM Lee argued, ‘it’s not possible to just treat (Singapore) like an ordinary country’.
While it has one of the world’s highest emissions per capita, he said, its fuel consumption cannot be cut drastically, as its manufacturing sector lives or dies by it. Much of its carbon emissions comes from manufacturing things for use in other countries, not domestically.
Anyway, as MM Lee once argued, Singapore’s diminutive size means its efforts make little difference to global warming.
In fact, there’s another good reason why the Republic should be slow to sign up to any emissions cap that could slow down the economy: The scientific evidence for and against global warming deserves a full and fair public hearing.
The 2007 consensus statement issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims the support of 2,500 scientists. That number actually includes those who disagreed with parts of it but had no say in the final text.
Climate science is not an exact one yet. In fact, 9,029 scientists have signed up at www.petitionproject.org to reject the notion that global warming is largely caused by human activities.
Climate change debate is thus often heated, with public challenges like the one issued in March 2007 by Lord Christopher Monckton, former policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher.
He took out big advertisements in The New York Times and Washington Post challenging Mr Al Gore to debate him. Mr Gore, who co-won with the IPCC the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his global warming evangelism, did not respond.
With the debate becoming politicised, a dispassionate, neutral forum like Parliament may provide a good platform for the issue to be aired in Singapore. This will educate Singaporeans and also forge a national consensus on the appropriate policies in response to global warming.
Singapore could look at the state of Utah in America, whose state legislators earlier this month invited two meteorologists with opposing views to brief them.
Summing up the consensus view, Dr Jim Steenburgh of the University of Utah said: ‘There is comprehensive evidence well-supported by the scientific community…that increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the global warming…and that it is very unlikely that this warming is produced solely by natural processes.’
Conversely, Dr Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama-Huntsville testified that the consensus view arose from too many scientists fearing to rock the boat, even though the data they depended upon was limited. He argued that natural climate cycles, not human activities, cause climate variations, as 80per cent of the greenhouse effect is attributable not to carbon but water vapour and cloud cover. While low-level clouds provide shade and thus cooler temperatures, high-altitude clouds trap the sun’s infrared heat and thus warm up the earth.
In 2007, Dr Spencer published a study in Geophysical Research Letters using satellite images which showed that global warming leads to not more, but fewer, high-level, heat-trapping clouds. This allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere into outer space, reducing global warming by 75per cent.
Received wisdom holds that warming of the earth’s surface causes water evaporation. More clouds form in the high altitudes. These trap heat and warm up the earth even more. But Dr Spencer showed that a natural cooling process exists in the upper atmosphere: Global warming leads to fewer of such clouds, so more heat escapes and cooling occurs instead.
Current climate models do not factor in this cooling mechanism. If this mechanism is verified with more empirical evidence, surely one must be circumspect about costly public policy decisions. Global emissions reduction will cost at least US$100billion (S$140billion) a year by 2020. In effect, the Copenhagen treaty promises carbon taxes for all.
In awarding President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the nominating committee’s citation said: ‘Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role’ in combating global warming. It also asserted that Mr Obama would ‘do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.’
This is patently false, since most people in the Group of 77 (G77) – including populous China and India – would not agree to reducing their use of fossil fuels. They want very much to industrialise because that will lead to material prosperity, just as it has done for the West.
Even in the US, a new Pew Research Centre poll shows that just over a third of voters – down from nearly half last year – now believe that it is human activities which cause global warming.
As December approaches, signs of fray are increasing. In Bangkok in early October, G-77 countries threatened to walk out if drafts leading to Copenhagen included binding commitments. On Oct22, India and China signed an accord to jointly fight off anticipated Western demands.
Western leaders may draft a treaty to manacle their countries. But Singapore should not be bamboozled into following suit.