Friday, April 7, 2017

The Sustainability Series- Ryan Jin

Ryan is currently a programme co-ordinator of a team whose main mission is to make our university (NTU) sustainable. Since joining NTU as a bachelor’s student, he has been passionately working towards environmental and social sustainability. Although mistaken by the world as an extrovert, he calls himself an introvert. Pursuing his masters, working full time and exploring his very own food paradise, Singapore, he redefines the word "busy bee". 

Besides this interview, he is the one who made me understand the entirety of the word “sustainability” and what it encompasses. Also the answers below are my interpretation of his opinion as he spoke a lot, a lot lot lot of sense to process. 
1)         How do you think you have contributed or are contributing to sustainability, professionally or personally?
"Human engagement" is the foremost entity of sustainability, I believe and therefore have spent a significant amount of my university and work life, engaging university students who want to contribute to society and environment to participate in projects related to the same. Sometimes, people want to do something meaningful but do not know the right path to achieve their goal. In this case, I am the students’ guide to fulfill their dreams. I have somehow landed up working in sustainability related backgrounds all my life, be it healthcare, society or environment because, come to think of it, sustainability is all around us. I have been more involved in my student life in doing so than now. I have participated in several overseas projects that involve provision of energy security and facility development in rural areas.
2)         Name one measure/innovation in sustainability that has impressed you in the past.
Heat pumps have always fascinated me. In homes, directing heat from heat sources like refrigerators and air-conditioners to heat sinks such as clothes dryer, water heaters and room heating systems is a technology which is already existing but not evolved yet.
3)         Mention five small steps every individual can adopt in their daily life to make our planet more sustainable.
        i.            Buy less, use less: As much as I can help, I limit my purchase of new items, unless necessary.
      ii.            Look for energy-efficient electrical components: For my new house, I cannot avoid buying an air-conditioner as Singapore is too hot but probably will go a more energy-efficient one.
    iii.            Recycle: Recycling doesn’t make much sense in the Singapore context as the country is small, hence the technology to recycle is limited and thus expensive but globally it should be done, especially metal parts.
    iv.            In Singapore context, using paper cups may have higher carbon footprint than plastic ones because of the weight (in the transportation), not able to be recycled after end of use. During waste-to-energy (incineration) process, paper cups also tend to retain more moisture, hence reducing the efficiency.
      v.            Participate in cleanups to rid open spaces from garbage.
4)         What are your inspirations to work towards sustainability and aspirations to contribute more to sustainability?
As mentioned before, sustainability is everywhere. Sustainability is not a choice but inevitable. I don’t intend to work in the field of sustainability because I believe sustainability is the core concept of every occupation. I believe all occupations SHOULD have sustainability as their main goal. Engineers should target to use less to build more and businessmen should work towards sustaining their business by balancing customer satisfaction and profit.
5)         If you were a renewable energy, what would you be and why? (You do not need to be technical; you can choose the one that suits your personality most.)
Wind, as it is intermittent, like my personality and compared to solar power has more energy density.
6)         What is your idea of a utopian world and a dystopian world?
Utopian: Does not exist, it’s an academic goal but will never be possible
Dystopian: When all human beings are killed in the name of sustainability
7)         Would you rather (and why):
a)      Shower on alternate days or drink less water, if there was a water crisis? :P
Shower less of course
b)     Hug a tree for a day, for preventing it from being cut or impose on someone a prohibition of eating shark fin soup for life?
Hug a tree. If sharks are specifically farmed to be eaten, people shouldn't have any problem eating them.
c)      Be vegetarian or consume human flesh after they are dead (not from disease, let us say) to save on resources to burn/bury their body?
Vegetarian (occasionally)
d)     Dedicate your whole life fighting against pollution or spend it saving endangered species?
Pollution is a bigger cause in my opinion. I believe in the survival of the fittest concept. If some species did not survive over time, it was because they couldn’t compete with the rest.  
e)      Be born in this era/generation, in the past, or in the future (speaking solely from the sustainability point of view)?
Future, as it would see less gadgets for more applications, smaller devices to serve the same purpose and more sustainable material use.
f)       Take public transport for the rest of your life or travel by plane only for business to minimize your carbon footprint?
Hard to choose, maybe both

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