Sunset For the Soul: Escaping The Haze.
I have always been the type of person who needs to see blue sky and feel the sun on my skin to feel energised and happy. I am solar powered. Can anyone else relate to this?
Singapore is consistently warm. Night and day. Same Same. It was one of the major reasons that Singapore appealed to me as a nation to relocate to.
For the past 5 weeks, however, Singapore has been blanketed in a haze of white, caused by out-of-control forest fires in Indonesia. The fires have been lit by companies wanting to clear forest and peatland cheaply and quickly in order to plant palm oil and pulp plantations, to satisfy global demand. Countless numbers of animals, birds and insects have been consumed by the flames. Children in Sumatra have succumbed to the smoke. Families have had to flee.
Toxic particles continue to hover in our Singapore air, forcing us and our children indoors. My outdoorsy life of bootcamp and tennis and yoga has come to a screeching holt. And who yet knows what damage this has caused to our health in the long term.
Outside, all you can see is white. Foggy white. The sun and the moon look the same. Burning orange circles in a smoggy sky.
The blanket of white over South East Asia can be seen from space. NASA has called it an environmental catastrophe. But more than that, it is a human catastrophe. Our insatiable consumption for paper products and processed foods has led to this situation.
As I sat in a taxi last week, wearing a mask to protect myself and looking out the window at the burning orange sun, I had a flash forward to a future where this is the norm. Of climate change causing the storm cycles of the tropics to dry, allowing bush fires to burn out of control. And of diminishing water supplies, meaning we can’t put them out. No escape. This entire haze episode, which is still continuing, has left me highly stressed and depressed.
We are one of hundreds of fortunate Singaporean families who have escaped. This week I am in Phuket. An environmental refugee. I feel blessed to have the means to escape to a 5-star resort.
The minute we landed in Phuket we saw blue. Blue skies everywhere we looked. Yesterday, I lay by the pool with the sun beaming down on me. The hot rays of the sun have started to melt away my anxiety.
Last night at 6pm I took my daughter to the beach that fronts our hotel to watch the sunset. It was a dazzling show that revealed nature’s beauty and it nourished my soul. My daughter sat by my side as together we watched in awe as the sun descended into the sea and lit up the clouds. As a budding artist, my daughter was inspired by the colours and wanted to paint them. I started taking photos until I realised that the orange ball of the sun against a clear blue sky, casting its metallic shimmer over a vast blue ocean was better viewed and appreciated without a lens.
It was an opportunity to explain to my daughter that the planet will be hers one day and she needs to protect it by taking individual responsibility. She has already learned about the global water shortage and is scared about the future.
Coming from Singapore, a land where the shopping mall is the dominant religion, it was a stark reminder of what we are already losing through our consumption.
And while, as an entrepreneur, I strongly believe that humans will be able to innovate their way out of this environmental crisis, that is the wrong lens to wear. Because it puts all the responsibility on future generations. And that is my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.
I cannot live 40 To the Max knowing that I am not being more mindful of my personal impact on the environment. I will be making a greater effort to educate myself and my children on better actions to take to preserve what we have.
Future generations deserve to enjoy the majesty of nature. They deserve to sit in clean air on a pristine beach and have their souls nourished by the sunset.
How are you feeling about the haze? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.