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2050. It is predicted that by 2050, 9.7 billion people will live in water-stressed areas and 6 million people will die per year from complications with air pollution.
I’m sorry to all the future generations. I’m sorry that the world is dying, I’m sorry that we can’t change our disgusting ways. I’m sorry that... I don’t recycle enough.
The truth is, I really don’t. I keep telling myself that I’m going to, but I never get around to doing it. How many of you here actually recycle? But, no matter what we do, we are all criminals. And it’s true, after what we’ve done to the planet. All the waste, all the smoke, and for what? A brand new iPhone x so we can get even more addicted to social media?
Let me tell you a story about a vacation I went on with my family. I went to Beijing in the summer of 2017. It was a beautiful place, I climbed the great wall of China. And get this: The worst part about that trip wasn’t the muscle aches that followed, or the painful sunburns, in fact, it wasn’t even the sweaty stench of the crowd. It was actually the tears in my eyes, the scorch in my lungs and the pain in my heart from the smoked up city, and of what Beijing has become. I couldn’t even step outside for a breath of fresh air without a mask on. Which is ironic because fresh air no longer exists there.
Little did I know that the total number of cars in Hong Kong is nothing compared to Beijing. That makes China among the countries with the highest air pollution in the world. And that Breathing the air in Beijing increases the risk of lung cancer in the same way as smoking 21 cigarettes a day.
But we’re lucky. We’re safe for now. We live in a beautiful country called Singapore where the only serious case of air pollution is caused by Indonesia. Or at least that’s what you think. Although Singapore is not so much of a dangerous country, it still provides harmful systems such as outdoor airconditioning in places like Clare Quay. Fun fact, despite it being small, Singapore has more than 3,000 kilometers of roads. Stretched out end to end, they would cover the distance from Singapore to Hong Kong. The number of cars passing through the roads contributes a lot more to climate change in the world than we think. Just imagine how many cars must be on those roads every single day?
It’s not just air pollution we’re talking about here. Every year, more than 6 billion kilograms of garbage is dumped into the world's ocean. Most of it is plastic that is toxic to marine life. But what’s sad about that is about 80% of those items could be recycled. This makes Antarctica the only relatively clean place on Earth.
The only way we can stop this is by taking action. As cringy as it may sound, we are the solution. It can be as simple as recycling or taking shorter showers. This is our last chance to make it right. This is our last chance to give the future generations a chance, an apology for the mess of a world we have created today. It starts today.
H., Petr. “25 Shocking Facts About Pollution.” List25, 30 Mar. 2017.
“11 Interesting Facts About Singapore.” WorldStrides, 29 May 2019.
Simon. “Air Pollution Model Predicts 6.6 Million Deaths by 2050.” Chemistry World, 16 Sept. 2015.
“10 Facts About China's Pollution Problem That Will Make Your Skin Crawl.” Thought Catalog, 19 Feb. 2016.