“The extent of man’s imprudence,” by Ian Tan

“The extent of man’s imprudence,” Ian Tan (HS Red Cross Unit)

I have been blissfully unaware, or perhaps ignorant, as to the extent of man’s imprudence. Now, I am aware. And one short trip to the beach was al it took.

When I arrived at the beach, my first impression was ‘’It’s filthy with dead plants and crabs…’’ I soon learned, however, that the filth did not come merely from dead carcasses of beach animals and rotting logs. No, the problem lay far deeper than that. Upon closer inspection, me and my fellow cadets found traces of man’s ‘’work’’ lying all around us.

Our mission? To collate data of what kind of trash could be found on the beach, to see what materials made up most of the trash. Plastic, styrofoam, glass – all these had to be collected. Armed with gloves and trash bags, we set off, and my group sure found a lot of styrofoam!

When you aren’t looking for trash, you tend to ignore it. When you are looking for it, you suddenly realise how much of it there is. That was exactly what happened. I was left shell-shocked at the scene – discarded plastic bottles and bags, shredded styrofoam boxes covering the expanse of the beach and more. What shook me to the core was a tree. A mangrove tree.

Discarded fishing nets had found their way to the beach where the nets got entangled with the roots of the tree. Over time, as the tree grew, and more fishing lines washed up on the beach, the nets and ropes became embedded and tangled with the mangrove roots. As I lent a helping hand in extricating the nets which were choking the roots, my surprise doubled – there metres-long worth of nets and ropes with some embedded so deep into the plant, it was impossible to pull out! That was when I woke to the true implications of man’s destruction – it had been going on for so long, the results were devastating.

Five of us working together did so little to help the plant. An hour’s work didn’t even clear a quarter of what lay entangled within its roots. But yet, it made me feel so much better, that I had contributed in helping the tree breathe more easily and that the beach looked a lot cleaner than when we first started.

I feel that activities like this truly help to open our eyes to the harshness of reality. It brings us out of our comfort zone and shows us the bitter truth—that our world is dying, and it is dying fast. Not only does this kind of activities help with team bonding, it helps the environment, and this single activity may have given the beach a longer lifespan.

I feel very happy that I have been able to help the world, even if what I did is only a millionth of a fraction compared to what others do. I feel that we should do this more, as it has been said ‘’A little difference can set in motion a chain of events that can either destroy, or save this world’’.

I opt to have the difference do the latter. We can’t stop global warming, but we can slow it, for the sake of the next generation. They did nothing to deserve a life filled with misery and hardships physically. But all of this starts with that very small effort to help the world.

One thought on ““The extent of man’s imprudence,” by Ian Tan

  1. Hi. I participated in a cleanup like this before. And I must say, I was appalled by the amount and types of litter collected. I feel very accomplished after the cleanup. After the cleanup, I’ll think twice before littering out of convenience.


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