Earth Hour 2020 - Live & Unplugged: Interview with climate change activist Inch Chua on beliefs, singular actions, and her global expedition to Antartica
A call for change
One of the largest secular observances across the world, Earth Hour, is an environmental movement that celebrates our planet and raises public awareness about heavyweight issues of adverse change caused by global warming and nature loss. Continuing its global reach, Earth Hour 2020 will wage in its unstoppable movement for Mother Nature through its first ever live stream. The three-hour digital event will consist of live music by prominent artistes with the likes of Nathan Hartono, Benjamin Kheng, Inch Chua, and many others, as well as unscripted conversations with leading environmental changemakers in Singapore.
An integral puzzle piece of the changemaker movement is Inch Chua; her journey started in Antarctica back in 2018 where she discovered the impact of our choices on the planet. During her global expedition, she encountered wildlife and made recordings of the evocative sounds as inspiration in her multimedia theatre performances. In light of her upcoming digital performance at Earth Hour 2020 - Live & Unplugged, Inch Chua shares her stance and how every singular action matters in the vast planet we live in.
What drives your passion for climate change?
I fundamentally believe and am constantly reminded at how we as humans are not the center of the universe and I'm surprised by how we function in the world as though we are. Advocating for climate justice isn't driven by any altruistic reasons but stems from knowing my place in this world.
What were some of the key takeaways you got from your global expedition to Antarctica back in 2018?
The sheer amount it takes to sustain a human always confounds me — and I'm reminded of that at the very end of the world. The reminder of how vastly insignificant we stand in the grand scheme of things and yet fearfully capable of so many atrocities and wonderful things all at the same time. It reminded me of the choices we make and which side of my humanity I would want to be reinforcing.
Why do you choose to reflect on your global expeditions and climate change issues in your music?
Music has been a communicating language for me. I definitely find what I resonate with in this medium and it only makes sense to use your best and favourite tool to speak your truth.
Do you think Singaporeans are aware of the gravity of climate change issues and the impact it has on our planet?
I think we do and in fact, understand how powerful this information is, so much so that we know the knowledge of the issues might threaten and radically change our lifestyles. And understandably so, it will. So I can understand the defensiveness and aversion to learn more while holding the fear of disruption. It's part of the grieving process though, we all will experience loss during our journey with sustainability and giving up some luxuries. There's also a huge difference between receiving information and actually knowing. And I believe many Singaporeans receive the information and may even receive it repeatedly, ultimately be desensitised without really internalising it.
Climate Change Public Perception Survey back in 2016 demonstrated that a third of respondents in Singapore stated their own actions would not make a difference to climate change. What are your thoughts about that?
It's hard to have any judgments on it because the data doesn't show the quality of the opinion. There are various reasons to why people might not feel their actions won't make a difference. You could be someone who at the root of it, struggles with your self-worth and might not feel your singular efforts could make a difference. Or you could be someone who is unwilling to change a habit and resigns to this claim to be defensive. Or you could be an activist that understands that the power doesn't belong to the people but the corporations that provide us with our consumer choices, and individual actions aren't what's needed to shift the needle. A lot of it lies in the hands of political leaders and corporate responsibility.
I believe in empathy and meeting people where they are at. I've seen how one singular human can do loads of damage, just as much as I've seen one singular human do an unspeakable amount of good too. So if you ask me if singular action matters, it sure as heck does. Many heroes and tyrants can attest to that. But we do too need to come to terms that the world is broken, complex and that individual action alone, may not be enough.
How can everyday Singaporeans contribute to saving the planet?
Educate yourself. I find it very sobering when you calculate your own carbon footprint. We often don't reflect how much we consume or put out into the world. Singaporeans are blessed and cursed with the many luxuries and urban conveniences that we don't get to confront this basic part of our humanity so often. I believe after having the awareness of your carbon footprint, the next step would be to check how you feel about it. And I believe it will naturally guide you to look into the areas you'd be willing to compromise.
Why are events like Earth Hour 2020 so important for the youth and decision-makers of tomorrow?
Rituals are important to gather and galvanise beliefs. Of course, sustainability shouldn't only be the flavour of the season every Earth Hour. It should happen every day. But having an occasion where we collectively tell ourselves and the world around us how this earth matters to us is a powerful thing and quite a human phenomenon to marvel over.
What can we expect during your Earth Hour 2020 performance?
Some storytelling and songs from closer to home during my time where I stayed in Pulau Ubin.
Do you have any advice for Singaporeans that are interested in being a change maker like you?
Pace yourself and take care of yourself. Burn out never serves anyone.