Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Dilemma of Distance

Phoebe Elizabeth Lim Pei Jun

As an international student at Trinity for a semester, I could not have picked a better, or worse, time to read a course on sustainability. While the course has made me shrink in my seat numerous times at the realization of how unsustainable my current lifestyle is, every major contributor to carbon emissions listed on the slide during the carbon footprints lecture was an allegation laid against me.


First, there was the obvious heavy-weight champion for any international student - transport. As if flying 11,198.81 kilometres one-way from Singapore to Dublin wasn't bad enough (link, I had transited at Dubai, which meant greater quantities of carbon emissions from the additional take-off and landing compared to the option of a direct flight. Moreover, I still have to make the return trip home since overstaying my Visa and risking a falling-out with the guards isn't an option. Times like these, one wonders why anyone would have picked the more destructive of two options just to save some money. Not to mention all those sinful trips I had planned, around Ireland and Central Europe, purely for leisure.

While some kind souls might be willing to adopt my used items once I leave, the thought of having to throw almost all of it out is hard to swallow, let alone stomach. Yet, it is a common practice for international students it seems - bed sheets, duvets, pillows, thumbtacks, clothes hangers, porcelain utensils, the mundane stuff of everyday life I would never have batted an eyelid about before uprooting and planting myself in a foreign land. The embedded carbon I'm responsible for just from exploring Dublin city in the better part of my first month and half here, administrative documents, enjoying an Irish meal, is anyone's guess. At this rate, even sending postcards home may be hazardous, what with all these letters being posted by air mail.
I would have reckoned that the more global I become, I'd have a heightened awareness and understanding of the world I live in, and be in a better position to, if not help, at least curtail problems related to sustainability. Yet, not only do I find myself incredibly guilty of killing the planet slowly, I think it increasingly challenging to live a decent modern city-life, if at all, under such circumstances.
Ah the life of an international student, a tough life indeed.

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