Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Green Gardens by The Bay

I've been to the new Gardens by the Bay a couple of times now. They really seem to have taken on many sustainability issues and are passing the message on. For instance, the wall along the edge of the Supertree Grove has information "spots" about all sorts of issues.

Information "spot" about the Gardens' energy sources

One of many "spots".
The messages continues inside the Cloud Forest. Once you've got to the top of the mountain, make sure your journey back to the bottom includes not only staring in wonder at the mountain covered in plants, the amazing structure of the greenhouse (disclosure: I'm an engineer and anoraky about this kind of thing) and the Crystal Cave, but also a wander through the Earth Check exhibition. This includes facts and figures about climate change, including a good animation of how CO2 and temperature levels have changed over the last 400,000 years (stills below).

The Carbon Cycle animation

CO2 levels 400,000 years to present day - that's 4 ice ages.

CO2 levels 1,000 years ago to today - natural warming

CO2 levels in the last 25 years - look at the levels since the Industrial Revolution - gulp!
Travel down the escalator and watch the +5 degC film demonstrating what would happed if the Earth's temperature rose 5 degC by 2100. I've not made my mind up whether the film is alarmist or realistic regarding the impacts. It's often said that the message around climate change is too alarmist, but perhaps, if what is shown in the film will happen, the message isn't alarmist enough? Human nature seems to be to bury our head in the sand until it's too late and alarmist messages can drive you to do this even more! Like with smoking, people know the consequences of their actions but still do it.
"All endemic species will be dead." (Endemic means specific to a particular location e.g. Galapagos Islands)

They could turn the air-con down a bit - it was freezing in there. Then again, if you're making your own cooling from waste plant material, why not use as much as you can?

Sponsored by ST Engineering - the guys who also service aircraft and manufacture arms. They do have a corporate social responsibility policy.
After the film, there's a room with a model of the Gardens explaining where they get their energy and water from and where the waste from the Gardens go. They've thought of everything, including using the Supertrees as giant chimneys from the biomass boilers that burns their plant waste to create heat that's, in turn, used to cool the greenhouses. Pretty amazing. More information can be found on a long page about their sustainability efforts here.
Animated model of the Gardens showing how the greenhouses are cooled.
Throughout the Gardens there is information about biodiversity and the importance of plants.

The plants still need some time to bed in properly and establish themselves, but all in all, I'd recommend a trips to the Gardens to anyone - especially if you want a green fix!

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