Essay Test 2

Q1. Consumerism is not always bad. Do you agree?

1. ‘Consumerism’: the utilization of economic good and services
2. ‘Bad’: that which is harmful to the individual, family, organisation, country, world
Q1. Consumerism is not always bad. Do you agree?

1. ‘Consumerism’: the utilization of economic good and services
2. ‘Bad’: that which is harmful to the individual, family, organisation, country, world

3. ‘always’ : under all circumstances, at all times

1. Consumerism is bad

Consumerism is not bad. Consumerism is bad.
Consumers can pay small amounts of money for products of extremely high quality and a higher standard of living. As demand rose and products became cheaper, consumers can spend less on items and have more money to spend on their quality of life. A high rate of consumption has caused a number of health issues that are now bordering on epidemics. Obesity, colon cancer, and other maladies can be attributed to overconsumption of certain foods. Sometimes too much choice can be deadly.

The increased demand from the increased desires created in modern man by consumerism has given rise to a vast global middle class. Although millions of people still live in poverty, the affects of consumption have eradicated poverty for others.
Consumerism tends to encourage a sense of selfishness as individuals differentiate themselves from others by buying products and services. This could lead to serious socio-economic problems as the wealth gap widens.

Consumerism has created vast consumer choice. As people also become more sophisticated consumers, their demands for varied products increased. As demand increased, suppliers rose to fulfill their needs. Modern consumers have more choice concerning products than group of people in history.
Consumerism creates more competition worldwide for resources. As resources dwindle and demand stays high, more people are competing for the same things. Increased competition brings about increased tension.

While consumerism may have contributed to environmental degradation, we have the option of reducing the potential damage that consumption can cause if more of us practise green consumerism. Consumerism has pushed the world towards climate change. In the drive to produce more for consumption, we have put great strain on the environment. Humankind is making the push towards alternative energy right now because the decisions of the past century are haunting society. Extremely high levels of energy use have resulted in higher prices for energy and goods.

Q2. ‘Parents find it increasingly difficult to protect their children.’ What are your views?

□ Increasingly: progressively more, mounting, snowballing
□ Difficult: challenging, arduous, enervating, stressful, futile (implications of being helpless and at a loss of ideas)
□ Protect: safeguard, ensure the safety of, look after the welfare of, cater to the needs of (implications of lurking dangers that must be defended against)

Possible response:
□ Yes, it is true that many parents find it increasingly difficult to protect their children today.
□ Yes, it is true that parents may find it difficult to safeguard their offspring’s welfare in some areas but this is not true in other aspects.
□ No, more parents are better equipped with the knowledge and skills in understanding their children and ensuring their safety, as compared to those in the past.
□ No, the challenge in parenting children well today, especially in terms of ensuring their safety has remained equally arduous as the past.

Recommend approach to the question:
□ Students are to analyse all possible situations where children’s welfare might be threatened today and evaluate if parents know and have the ability to implement solutions to remove or minimize such threats.
□ Comparison between the past and present should be made (due to the use of the term ‘increasingly’) to justify if parents feel more empowered or defeated today

Strong scripts will:
□ Be able to analyse a wide range of safety-compromising situations that children might be in, either voluntarily or unknowingly, to explain if parents can get them out of the predicament.
□ Able to showcase maturity of thought by understanding the challenges of parenting today and evaluate the solutions that most parents usually rely on
□ Not merely regard protection as physical well-being as it includes the holistic well-being of the child (i.e. mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual)

Weak scripts will:
□ Merely present a list of dangerous situations or factors that may harm children today without addressing the question, especially the term ‘increasingly’.
□ Focus only on the physical safety of the child as the context of discussion.

Possible arguments:
□ It is getting more demanding to safeguard the well-being of the child today as there are many more obstacles and hurdles that stand in the way of holistic child development (e.g. almost omnipotence of the media in shaping mindsets and values, ‘de-stigmatisation’ of once taboo issues such as premarital sex and homosexuality, glamorization of unhealthy fixations such as cosplay and obsessive gaming), often limiting the influence that parents can have over them.

□ More parents are bogged down by the multiple roles they play in society today, often leaving them with limited time and too drained to play the role of an effective protector for their children, unlike the clearer designation of gender roles in the past.

□ The uphill task of safeguarding children’s welfare and safety today is exacerbated by the assertions and societal support for more ‘rights’ and freedom to the child, often challenging the validity of parental authority.

□ It is tougher to ensure the safety of the child today as the latter may no longer appreciate the effort, time and intention behind such protective attempts as they deemed as mere ‘interventions’ to the kind of life they would like to have / ‘intrusions’ upon their privacy (i.e. attitude that “It’s my life…it’s my life, my problems” which makes protective attempts a thankless task)

□ Protective measures which are effective in safeguarding children are not in line with the more pastoral, less autocratic style of parenting today as they usually place excessive strain on parent-child ties, rendering parents rather helpless and in a dilemma of sorts.

□ Some parents do find it enervating and almost impossible to ensure their child’s safety and well-being as they were not really troubled or plagued by the same distractions and problems as today’s generation.

However, there are caveats that must be noted:
□ In this media-rich and technological world that we live in, though it might be easier to keep children physically safe, it is tougher to ensure their mental / psychological and emotional welfare.

□ More parents are given more support by the government / community in terms of effective parenting skills and supportive networks where they can share and experiment with effective parenting practices.

□ The availability of technological gadgets that help parents track, monitor and screen undesirable factors have improved today, hence, making it a more manageable task as compared to the past.

□ Children are more involved in decision-making situations today, making them more well-informed of their parents’ concerns and perspective, minimizing the need for parents to always play the role of the protector, as children can better safeguard themselves.

Q3. Consider the view that the mass media only give us false heroes.

Key words
false heroes: people, institutions, ideals that we look up to / venerate - are they worthy of our admiration / respect? Or are they misleading / promoting destructive / non-lasting values?

Question requirements
Students must challenge the absolute nature of the statement: that the mass media solely provide us with negative roles/behaviour (the contextual idea of “false” in this question).

Better scripts will recognise that the term 'heroes' can be interpreted as ideals/philosophies/concepts.

Weaker scripts will only offer a descriptive essay of specific media personalities and their heroic qualities.

NOTE: When looking for the ‘balance’ or counterargument to this question, it is crucial that you don’t simply list OTHER functions of the mass media. Such an approach would not contrast / contradict the concept of “false heroes” at all, and would be an unfocused, irrelevant discussion.

Yes, the mass media only give use false heroes

• The mass media promotes celebrity worship, fixating on external, unrealistic aspects of celebrity lifestyles such as fashion, material possessions, lifestyles
- Consumers are keen to consume such details perhaps because they lack appealing role models in real life. The mass media respond to this need and in fact fuel it, to increase viewership and revenue
- Celebrities often promote values of material excess, superficiality, hedonistic philosophy of life (eg Paris Hilton) constructs unrealistic standards of beauty, promoting eating disorders among impressionable young
- To maximize viewership, only the most sensational details are pursued, often resulting in a glamorization of the undesirable consequences of such lifestyles (addiction, debt, dysfunctional families, etc) rather than positive role models (Hugh Jackman, Bill Cosby) of fidelity, commitment, parenthood, social responsibility, etc
- The MSM is also guilty of misrepresenting celebrities, ie they are celebrated for popularity, not skill / talent (eg Anna Kournikova)  implicit message of fame /celebrity overriding actual worth (see following point)

• Promoting a culture of an unjustified celebration of self / unjustified celebration of the loud rather than the worthy
- the idea of 'surviving' and emerging victorious from artificial and meaningless 'disasters' (egs: Big Brother, Fear Factor, Survivor) encourages a culture that ignores merit, but embraces fame for its own sake (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian)

• “false heroes” in reality TV or sitcoms offer us a 'feel good' factor for leisure and entertainment
- Eg: reality tv programmes often offer us anti-heroes or ‘losers’ to cheer for / egg on; voyeurism / curiosity provides viewers with a sense of moral superiority, but these are not values worth aping (i.e., “false heroes”)

• Some media institutions present biased / oversimplified narratives, through selective editing, of politicians / public figures as "saviours", as defenders of values / ideology because of

i) vested interests (i.e. a 'white knight' portrayal)
- eg: Fox News Channel as reported in 'Outfoxed'
- possibly because the mass media think the average person cannot or will not deal with multiple facets / accounts of public figures, there is often whitewashing / revisionist accounts of dead public figures (eg Reagan, Gandhi, Mother Theresa) Hence, the ‘accepted’ image of public / historical figures in popular culture, or is an incomplete and false one.

ii) propaganda / nationalistic reasons
- this accounts for the distorted nature of 'historical' portrayals in general, simplistic versions (eg Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, Gandhi) in order to present an easily identifiable and politically correct figure / symbol of a nation / culture.

• Advertising constantly creates and reiterates “false heroes” through stereotyping and exaggeration
- To cater to their desires / demands, the mass media are keen to constantly give consumers something to aspire to (eternal love, a rail thin body, perfect skin, perfect diamond ring, etc)
- the fallacies in advertising are evidence of "false heroes".

• Misrepresentation of social institutions / values / culture (expanding definition of 'hero' to mean abstracts we hold as ideals); it is often idealistic and over-optimistic
- movies, tv shows, offer us picture-perfect ideas of family and marriage, relationships in general, which are misleading and inaccurate portrayals of reality.
- Idealised impressions of cultures / countries (eg the stereotyped California lifestyle as the American Dream, or indeed, the universal dream).

• the entertainment media sometimes 'glams up' the presentation of negative characters (eg criminals) blurring the boundaries between right and wrong
- eg: FHM's edgy, MTV-like report on the 2 teenage killers responsible for the shootings at Columbine High School portrayed them almost as celebrities: unsung, victimised heroes.

No, the mass media offer us worthwhile role models and values / institutions.
• the mass media offer us role models who champion worthy causes
- celebrities sometimes champion causes / raise awareness of issues (Bob Geldorf and Live Aid, Bill and Melinda Gates, Kofi Annan)
- some celebs are true testimonies of resilience of the human spirit (eg Lance Armstrong)
- even though it appears to be tokenism (Angelina Jolie, Madonna), some celebrities are positive representations of minority groups, challenging stereotypes (eg Michael Chang, Stephen Hawking, Ellen Degeneres)

• the use of ordinary people and everyday institutions (like the police) provide real life heroes worthy of emulation (True Courage, Extraordinary People). Being self-reliant, fulfilling social duties to family and community, being role models for others, is worthwhile accomplishment  can inspire ordinary folk

• Even animated superheroes embody the values of social responsibility because they are ironically 'true heroes': when they 'save the world' they save people, punish baddies, save the trees, uncover diabolical plots, champion the underdog…

• Sometimes, the mass media can also gives us hope / reinforce values
- the mass media are also the means through which false heroes can be exposed (eg Watergate, all kinds of political scandals); it offers us true heroes – the working man, the everyman, evidence of hope / values in an institution (such as the democratic process)

Q.4 Do you agree that the United Nations can no longer provide any leadership in today’s modern world?

“No longer” implies that the UN has completely lost all capacity, resources and mandate to be at the forefront of solving global issues/problems (sweeping statement)
- Global issues by definition respect no borders
- by their complex nature overlap disciplines and,
- by sharing a common ecosystem, are all in some way interrelated.

The UN has flaws but there are vital areas where it is still the only organisation capable of taking the lead and initiating action/solutions

Brief background of summary of UN to set context
- The United Nations ("U.N.") was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security.
- Membership now totals 189 countries.
- According to UN Charter the UN has four purposes:
o to maintain international peace and security,
o to develop friendly relations among nations,
o to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights,
o to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
- UN is not a world government, and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflict and formulate policies on matters affecting all of us.
- All Member States have a voice and vote.

Some of the criticisms levelled at the UN today: bloated & ineffective (can only make speeches and not take action - therefore cannot provide leadership
How true is this?

Today’s world – characterized by some of these global issues
o triggered by increased armed conflict e.g. ongoing American occupation of Iraq, Israel-Palestinian disputes, border disputes in India, etc
o civil wars & insurgencies
o Large-scale loss of life, displacement from homes,
=> growing numbers of refugees worldwide

UN Security Council is the only global organ who can lead because they have the mandate of the people and the power to authorize intervention with the use of force
o Acknowledge that UN have shown themselves to be inconsistent and selective with this use of force e.g. Kosovo, Rwanda. Good e.g. is Darfur – UN have been bogged down with so much discussion on how to stop the Sudanese government from sponsoring mass murders, rapes, torture and forced evictions
o However, the alternative is US-led military action and their track record in this area has shown their unilateral actions lack international credibility & support - will end up alienating the locals and the rest of the world with their unreasonable insistence on a US-style democracy. Furthermore, the US and its allies tend to get involved in such conflicts only when there is a direct economic or political benefit to them e.g. engagement in Iraq and Kuwait was directly motivated by access to oil supplies.
o Regional bodies e.g. the African Union – who lack the financial resources and know-how to intervene and rebuild nations in the wake of massive human and physical devastation (postwar reconstruction)

UN can and does provide leadership in the form of
(i) civil administration e.g. Aceh, Kosovo – conduct free and fair elections, help to put Constitutions and rule of law in place, establish law-making bodies etc – vital governance and leadership
(ii) reconstruction & economic development e.g. Kosovo, Afghanistan

Link back to topic: Hence the UN is the organisation that everyone does and will turn to for leadership in this area.

- Set Millennium Development Goals for all developing countries to aspire to – by 2015, eliminate extreme poverty
- Acknowledge that some progress has been made:
o Those living in extreme poverty in the developing regions accounted for slightly more than a quarter of the developing world’s population in 2005, compared to almost half in 1990.
o In the developing world as a whole, enrolment in primary education reached 88 per cent in 2007, up from 83 per cent in 2000. And most of the progress was in regions lagging the furthest behind i.e. sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia
o Deaths of children under five declined steadily worldwide to around 9 million in 2007, down from 12.6 million in 1990,
o Key UN organs that can be used in this section include World Food programme (feed hungry in Africa among other places) + UNDP’s aid via IMF and World Bank – reduce/write off some of the 3rd world debt

Link back to topic: Who else has taken the lead to achieve the MDGs? Not all developed nations give foreign aid consistently => hence UN has moral leadership in this aspect.

o UN is the only global leader who has the ability to provide international criminal tribunals to put an end to the impunity of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
o Important because victims need to obtain justice
o E.g. Cambodia trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders who systematically tortured and killed millions of Cambodians, special panels for Serbian war criminals

Link back to topic: No other country has stepped up to assume the mantle of responsibility in this area, hence UN does provide leadership in this area.

o 1 billion people globally do not have a healthcare system, infectious diseases (HIV tuberculosis and malaria) still kill millions a year, new outbreaks of swine flu threaten global health security in today’s world
o WHO is the Un organisation who leads the global fight against disease
o Monitors, assesses & strengthen global health security
o Leads also by harnessing research, info and evidence of global pandemics etc
o Vaccine programmes, pandemic preparedness programmes for 4/5ths of the world who lack such programmes – ensure people have access to medical care and resources
Other issues which can be discussed:
5) Climate change issues (sustainable development)
o UN is the global leader in initiating action in ensuring environmental sustainability
o MDG Goal 7 – Integrate the principles of sustainable development into countries’ policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
o From 1986 to 2007, 195 countries who ratified Montreal Protocol (led by UN) have achieved 97% reduction in harmful emissions
6) Nuclear weapons proliferation (IAEA - Iran, North Korea)

Conclusion - Stand:
The United Nations is our most effective and credible leader in dealing with global issues
In any attempt to find and apply globally agreed and acceptable solutions to world problems, the UN System - with all its faults - is the most useful and representative forum we have. A flawed UN with global representation is better than unrepresentative dominance by a powerful, self-selected few – there will be great instability due to the lack of an agreed web of rules, checks and balances.

Q5. ‘A country that fails to open its doors is setting itself up for failure.’ Comment.
Concept Clarification:
• ‘open its doors’: interdependency between/among countries
• failure: Students need to make clear what is meant by failure – social/ economic/ political/ cultural etc
Minimum Requirements:
• Clear stand and balanced treatment
• Argue that there is a need for countries to open their doors to other countries. Countries are inter-dependent for trade/crises response/resources for survival, etc and cannot afford to remain isolated.
• Need to consider the impact of ‘opening its doors’ or ‘closing its doors’
Possible Arguments:

• Globalisation is a force that cannot be stopped and with free trade agreements etc, a country which does not respond accordingly may find itself losing out economically. Countries that open their doors collaborate and progress while others which choose not to risk being left behind. For instance, China closed her doors for decades and found herself lagging behind.
• With technology, countries soon realise that they cannot escape public scrutiny, even if they want to close their doors. Hence, they may end up being more heavily criticised by the rest of the world. For example, Burma’s violence was reported to the world via citizen journalism even though the government tried to prevent international reporters from reporting about it. In fact, students can possibly ask whether it is possible for countries now (with technology) to remain close to the rest of the world.
• A country that chooses to isolate itself also risks having to manage crises on their own and some of these crises may threaten its survival. For instance, North Korea initially rejected help from South Korea and many died from the H1N1 virus.

• One possible advantage may be that the country remains culturally strong e.g. North Korea. Even when it finally allowed fast food and hamburgers (associated with the West) to be sold, all of its burgers, whether made of minced beef, fish or vegetables, come with lashings of kimchi, the spicy pickled cabbage that Koreans prize.

Q6. Are Singaporeans tolerant of differences?

1. ‘tolerant’: Permissive, charitable
2. types of ‘differences’: physical, racial/ cultural, gender, age, socio-ecomic

1. Singaporeans have differences.
2. There are obstacles which Singaporeans face that make it difficult for them to be tolerant of differences.

Yes. Singaporeans are tolerant of differences. No. Singaporeans are not tolerant of differences.

As Singaporeans travel more frequently to other countries to live, work and play, we are better able to appreciate racial and cultural differences. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of inter-racial marriages. Also, Singaporeans open their homes to people (Singaporeans and permanent residents) of other races to include them in their festivities.
Although globalization is supposed to have given us more opportunities to observe how people in other countries live harmoniously, some Singaporeans have not moved on. Disparaging remarks on Facebook and blogs are still being made about other races. Recently, three Chinese students from Spore Poly were arrested for allegedly posting remarks which were offensive to Indians on a Facebook group.

We have increasingly tried to make Singapore more disabled-friendly. More ramps have been built at bus interchange and MRT stations. HDB upgrading takes physical disabilities into account as lift landings are built on every level.
Our efforts to accept differences still pale in comparison with the level at which many developed countries, known for respecting human rights, have come to extend to those who are physically challenged.

Increasingly, Singaporeans have come to accept differences. In May 2009, 2500 people turned up to show their support for Pink Dot Day, an official public gathering which was organized for a LGBT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals) cause. The supporters were encouraged to lend their support towards ‘open-mindedness and understanding’.
LGBT are perceived as an emergence of decadent Western liberalism and individualism, a threat to our local Asian values. This is set against a climate of social conservatism which promotes ‘Asian values’ – the same attributes which, according to Singaporean leaders - are responsible for Singapore’s economic development.

7. ‘Politicians build walls; artists build bridges.’ Is this an accurate statement?

Key words

politicians: Govts, officials, institutions of authority. Not limited to nation states, could be an inter-governmental organisation such as the UN, World Bank, etc.

artists: People who produce and promote the aesthetics (painting, singing, performing, etc.), capture the zeitgeist of a society, people who are recognised for their creative talents.

walls/bridges: socially divisive or unifying elements. Both terms are figurative and can refer to people (social groups), institutions, or ideas / concepts.

Question requirements
The statement requires students to acknowledge the necessary though apparently contradictory roles that both politics and art have in constructing a successful society.

Better scripts will demonstrate a greater knowledge and understanding of different instances of “walls” and “bridges”, and challenge the binary assumption of the statement.

Weaker scripts will lean upon a short laundry list of examples that only support either assertion, without discussing further possibilities / interactions between both ideas.

Yes, the comment is accurate

Politicians build walls
• to “divide and conquer”, thereby garnering voter support
- “real America vs liberal elite” (used during 2009 US presidential Election)
- SG’s distinction b/t PRs and citizens
- SG’s emphasis on race/ethnicity classifications

• to set themselves apart from other nations/societies/cultures
- MM Lee’s “Asian Values” argument, used to counter arguments on SG’s lack of press freedom and accusations of human rights violations

• to make ideological statements / take ideological stances
- “you’re either with us or against us” (G. W. Bush, post-2001, on US’ War against Terror)
- Cold War politics

• for social engineering
- SG’s 80s policy on grads and non-grad childbirth
- Various egs of racial segregation (US, Australia, Japan, S Africa…)
- Nazism

• For economic co-operation
- EU, ASEAN, NATO, etc

Artists build bridges
• between the marginalised and the mainstream
- create awareness of social or political problems through their work (eg To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Suzanne Vega’s Luka, etc, Bob Geldorf’s Live Aid concert, Bono’s social activism, etc

• between the past and present
- Jung Chang’s Wild Swans

• between science and art
- Niels Bohr and Picasso, M.C. Escher and neurology, etc

• between our brains and hearts (thinking vs feeling)
- the cathartic response
- the aesthetic response

• between cultures
- encouraging open-mindedness, exchange of ideas, tolerance, etc

• between the abstract and the tangible
- the collective works of many artists inspire and contribute to an overall zeitgeist, even a movement, such as the Renaissance, or the counterculture of the 1960s

No, the comment is inaccurate
Politicians fortify walls / divisions which already exist
• Religion and science already entrench societies into opposing factions; politicians merely exploit these controversies for political gain
- stem cell research, abortion, the oil/coal/nuclear power/natural gas debate, etc

Politicians may build walls but these may not necessarily be divisive (which is the assumption in the Q)
• Peer pressure (us vs them) is psychologically integral to large organisations such as the UN. Such pressure can fuel momentum for policy changes that can positively affect social good, such as enforcing green policies, condemning certain militaristic actions, etc.

Politics/politicians have a huge role and vested interest in the Arts, thus they “build bridges” through education policies and priorities in funding; ie without them, artists would be hard pressed to survive
• The role of politicians and historically, monarchs, in promoting artists and the Arts, long-established system of patronage in many societies
- Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel was possible only through patronage
- In many developed countries, arts education receives a significant amount of govt funding, and artists/art institutions are able to apply for grants to support their work.

Artists create work that is culturally / socially divisive
• The ability of art to shock and scandalise is a perennial issue and it often redraws boundaries of taste and public decency
- eg Salman Rushdie, Damien Hirst, Josef Ng, Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Wei Hui’s Shanghai Baby, François Rabelais’ Gargantua, etc

Art itself is already socially and culturally divisive
• The fact that there art is often categorised as high culture, mass culture, etc, is socially divisive  it emphasises the gulf between the cultural elite and the everyman

Q8 Do you agree that education is no longer the key to success?
Concept Clarification:
• Education: academic qualifications
• Key: the solution, the means to
• Success: achievement, accomplishment
Minimum Requirements:

• Need to contextualize – question implies that education may have been the key to success previously but it is now not the case.
• Clear stand and balanced treatment
• Argue how education (as one way) can help individuals to achieve success in life
• Argue that education may not be enough as the means to achieve success
• Consider how other means could help individuals to achieve success

Possible Arguments:
• The world is rapidly changing and education is unable to stay ahead ie. It can only play “catch-up”. For example, education in biotechnology can hardly keep pace with developments in the area.
• Education in many parts of the world is slow to respond to changes in the economy. For instance, many still focus on knowledge acquisition although knowledge becomes obsolete very quickly.
• Education is a contrived learning space and is unable to meet the needs of the real world. This is especially the case with globalization. For instance, strong communication skills are needed to liaise with people from other cultures and education, despite its efforts, is unable to replicate the complexities of such cross-cultural interactions.
• If we assume that success today depends a lot on creativity and innovation, then education may even hinder success since it promotes conformity.


• Education is still needed for basic literacy and numeracy, both of which are still crucial for survival and success.
• Education provides more than knowledge – it also develops students’ soft skills such as communication, teamwork etc, ingredients that are critical for success.
• Although education is a contrived space, it provides a safe environment for children/ students to learn, experiment and fail. This helps them to move more confidently towards success.

9. ‘Conquest without conscience.’ To what extent would you agree with this assessment of our relationship to the environment?

Question is asking for an assessment of the relationship between our resource consumption and environmental problems

Have we developed at the complete expense of the environment or have we managed to practice sustainable development?

Sustainable development as defined by World Commission on Environment & Development:
o meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
o Term was first used in report issued in 1987 by the Brundtland Commission
o By 1992, UN Conference on Environment & Development in Rio, the term had gained legitimacy and momentum
o Incorporates environmental, economic and social aspects

Stand: statement is not true as the last 20 years or so have shown our “conscience”.
o Since early 90s, we have seen increased awareness of environmental issues and have taken steps to ensure that we do not wreck complete havoc on the environment
o Search for solutions is ongoing
o There is resistance and progress is slow but the idea that most nations continue to recklessly use environmental resources (as implied by the statement) is untrue.

o Rapid population growth
o Unsustainable resource use to power growing consumption and production – unlimited waste
o Poverty
o Not including the environmental costs of goods and services in their market price – ecosystem services (e.g. clean water, timber, natural habitats) – what is their carrying capacity?

o Depleted soils
o Food shortages
o Biodiversity loss
o Increased deforestation
o Polluted rivers
o Increased disease
o Increasing global temperatures

Student needs to able to briefly explain some of the above major environmental problems
- See mind-map of environmental problems – students should not be listing problems, rather should pick a few and explain them in terms of:
o impact (physical + economic)
- The questions that must be asked are: how much of this damage is reversible? & have we done something to control the damage?

There is much more evidence to show that we have a conscience i.e. that we have taken steps to control the damage we have wrought.

Broad picture: The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), for which UNESCO is the lead agency, seeks to integrate the principles, values, and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning, in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems we face in the 21st century


1. Clean energy
o How to meet the energy needs of growing populations without relying on “dirty” forms of energy which are non-renewable
o More countries investing in wind, solar and hydro energy sources
o Countries like Singapore are willing to invest in nuclear energy
o Climate conferences (however flawed) are also examples of global recognition and commitment towards reducing pollution and emissions => reducing harmful impact on ozone layer & depleting finite resources like oil

2. Global commitment to poverty reduction
o Recognition that poverty is what pushes many countries/communities to deplete their natural resources in a desperate bid to earn income
o Setting of Millennium Development Goals to eliminate extreme poverty by 2015
o Goal 7 targets sustainable development – that nations will incorporate sustainable development into their policies

3. Major international organizations including UN and World Bank have begun to develop programs aimed at curbing deforestation
o Copenhagen 2009 – accord reached on setting aside money for remote forest monitoring using satellite imagery – amongst other measures
o Idea is to reduce environmental impact of deforestation – soil depletion, increased temperatures, loss of natural habitats
o Along with this, many countries are pushing their agricultural sectors to invest in high-yield hybrid crops & hydroponics => reduce negative impact on soil fertility while still producing enough food to feed people

4. UN-led action to conserve and manage water supplies
o World Water Day 2010
o Conferences to monitor and take action on degrading water quality

Conclusion: Students can show that over time, both in developed and developing countries, we have moved from the methods on the left, to the methods on the right

Pollution cleanup Pollution prevention (cleaner methods of production)
Waste disposal (bury or burn) Waste prevention and reduction
Protection of species Protecting where species live (habitat protection)
Environmental degradation e.g. deforestation Environmental restoration e.g. replanting of trees
Population growth Population stabilization

Q10. Patriotism is irrelevant in today’s globalised world. What do you think?

1. Definition of Keywords
Keyword Definition
Patriotism love for or devotion to one's country
irrelevant not having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
globalised world A world in a state of flux, characterized
• Faster political change / shifts of power
• Shorter economic cycles
• Rapid evolution of technology

2. Assumptions
• Patriotism served a purpose in the past but has now become obsolete.
• Globalization has overcome spatial and time constraints through technology.

3. Possible Approaches
• It is unrealistic to nurture and demand patriotic sentiments from citizens in view of the increasingly mobile world population.
• Rather than diminished, patriotism has taken on an even more critical role due to the globalized world characterized by instabilities and rapid changes.

4. Possible Points
Patriotism is irrelevant Patriotism is relevant
Increased mobility
Globalization has resulted in reduced barriers to trade as well as increased movement of labour and capital. As at June 2009, there were 90 thousand Singaporeans and PRs who lived and worked overseas for more than 12 months. This resulted in their exclusion from the population count, despite their citizenship status. Ease of retaining ties and roots
The ease of communications and travel has dramatically increased our ability to stay in touch with one another despite geographical distance. This meant that even as people lived and worked overseas, they are able to maintain contact with family, relatives and friends from their homeland. Online news portals, cable television channels and the like would also allow these individuals to keep themselves updated on what is happening in their home country. This shows that physical location, i.e. the notion of being elsewhere, does not necessarily have an impact on one’s patriotic sentiments.
Negotiating cultures
An outcome of increased human mobility is a new breed of cosmopolitans who are able to transverse a variety of cultures. It would thus be unrealistic to expect these individuals to be devoted or unquestioningly loyal to any particular country or culture. The reason being their movement is very much determined by socio-economic reasons rather than political or emotional factors, unlike older generations of immigrants.

Backlash against migrants e.g. no sense of belonging
It is importance for one to have a sense of rootedness and a place to call home regardless of where one is. Otherwise, this can lead to cultural displacement, resulting in a weakening and eventual loss of a collective culture and identity.
Incentive to take up offers overseas
The enhanced remuneration package, superior status of expatriates as well as intangible incentive of enriching one’s cultural experience has collectively made it appealing for individuals to work overseas. As they are exposed to alternative political and economic systems, cultures and ways of life, they will be able to carve for themselves the way of life that appeals to them, which can result in a rejection of the culture in their homeland. Maintaining Sovereignty
Despite attempts to erase national boundaries through alliances such as European Union and ASEAN, countries continue to maintain sovereignty and defence, and thus the need for patriotism.
Rejection of local cultures
With the explosion of information over the World Wide Web, individuals are now able to access information on lifestyles and cultures from all over the world. This could lead to the rejection of local traditional cultures as in the case of Japanese youths, who generally prefer the US way of life as opposed to the traditional Japanese spirit of self sacrifice for family and nation.

Q11. Commercialisation will be the death of sport. Discuss.

Key words:
□ Commercialisation: the practice of generating profits / emphasizing the profit-making aspect / the act of commodifying something, usually at the expense of quality
□ Death: extermination, extinguishment, eradication, abolition, complete erosion
□ Sport: athletic activities requiring skills and physical prowess and are often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing + passion for the game + true sportsmanship (i.e. Conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing, which show respect for the rules of the game and for self and others)

Possible response to the question:
□ Yes, it is indeed true that commercialization will be the death of sport as proven in today’s sporting arena.
□ No, commercialization will not be the death of sport if it is regarded and implemented as a means to an end (i.e. as a tool to keep incomes, support and passion for the games sustainable in the long run) rather than as a end in itself.

Recommended approach to the question:
Students are to analyse and evaluate the consequences of commodification in sports in today and project the long term impact it can have on the industry and the spirit of the game as a whole.

Stronger scripts will:
□ Be able to provide a good range of examples to explain how the profit-generating priority has affected the adherence to the rules of the game.
□ Offer a balanced perspective by acknowledging how the economic focus in sports today has helped build, sustain and revive games and sportsmen.

Weaker scripts will:
□ Merely take the term ‘sport’ literally and not analyse the aspect of sportsmanship at all.
□ Take an extreme stand that only critiques the profit-making focus and lament how this has led to a fall in sporting standards and the general lack of good sportsmen.

Possible arguments:
□ It is indeed true that commercialization may bring about the death of sport as it has affected the sporting arena tremendously, determining the type of sport that gets the funding, support and priority (e.g. Singapore’s and China’s ‘Dream Medal Academy’ which selects, grooms and utilizes sporting talent from young, to excel in their sport and gain recognition for the country one day).

□ The profit-generating priority does contribute to the possible demise of true sportsmanship one day as the system does not always reward righteous adherence to the rules of the game, as the end result is what counts (e.g. match-fixing scandals in F1 car-racing events, S-League and FIFA, EPL football matches).

□ The commodification of sports nowadays does not reward pure passion or love of the game, at the expense of performance, limiting the positive impact sport can do for the individual and the community (Olympic and SEA games selection criteria).

□ The emphasis on positive returns in sports-related investments has devalued the true spirit of sports as players do their best to ‘outdo, outwit and outlast’ each other, often harnessing their baser instincts for their own vested interest.

However, there are caveats that must be noted:
□ The profit-generation motive behind many sporting events is what keeps the industry going all this while, in terms of finding sufficient sponsors and hiring suitably qualified coaches and players to excel in their game.

□ The commodification of sports has brought about many positive spin-offs in other related industries, such as the mass media, branding, marketing and tourism sectors, which further expand the positive impact of sports to the community, region and the world.

□ The emphasis placed on profit-making in the sports arena has allowed true talent and pure passion for the game to be truly groomed and recognized, without which many raw diamonds would go unpolished.

Q12. “The scientist, far from being man’s friend, is today his greatest enemy.” How far do you agree with this statement?

Students should display awareness that:

1. The applications of science result in both positive (scientist as a friend) and negative outcomes (scientist as an enemy)

2. The time element in the consideration and comparison of scientists from the past and present

3. The need to distinguish between the intention of the scientist vs the eventual application of the scientists’ research, creations and discoveries

There is very little to distinguish between scientists of the past and present; the applications of their research, creations and discoveries are abused just as often as they are used to bring benefit to mankind.

Students should identify some criteria to argue whether scientists are evil or not, ie at the point of their research, they might not have the intention of creating chaos or a disruption to the lives of people.

Scientists often engage in research with good intentions, but the application of their work could be negative and hence beyond their control.

Why do scientists seem to be a threat to mankind?

It seems that today, many scientists seem to be focused on profit generation as the main objective and hence they could be seen as 'evil'.

Much research is funded by private corporations (eg pharmaceutical and defence technology firms) and the military (eg nuclear weapons and jet planes). Private corporations are motivated by the profit incentive, and hence often the benefits of the research are denied to the masses (eg HIV retrovirus, chemotherapy) while advanced weapon technology enable effective and efficient killing to take place.

However, the situation is much more complex due to the dualistic applications of such research. New drugs become cheaper over time and hence become accessible to the masses. Weapons technology can be utilised for civilian purposes – eg nuclear power stations, space missions and international flights.

Positive outcomes – egs

Louis Pasteur , Marie Curie , Einstein , Darwin , Alfred Nobel , (Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute) .

Negative outcomes - egs
i) Knowledge of radioactivity led to further research in this field and eventually resulted in the invention of the atomic bomb that devasted Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Worse, it led to a state of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) which illustrates the tense state that the world experienced during the Cold War. However, the power of nuclear energy has also been tapped for peacetime purposes such as power generation.

ii) Dolly represented a breakthrough in cloning with somatic cloning - cloning from adult cells. This has raised an industry of commercial cloning, ie pets, which to many represents a tremendous waste as well as a serious break of ethics for people to obtain pets through commercial sources when so many homeless pets languish in shelters or live on the streets; the money spent on pet cloning would be better spent on the vaccination and care of those animals.

iii) Nobel's invention of dynamite was initially for the sake of alleviating the risk and work of miners, but eventually was used for wartime purposes. Despite, the ability of a country to defend itself cannot be underestimated, but the process of war is still undeniably brutal.

A good essay would display the consciousness that scientists today are focussed on profit generation because of the high cost of research. However, a good essay would also recognise that without the funding that corporations provide, there scientific progress would be slow at best and non-existent at worst.


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