In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who am I?

I advocate for outdoor play and outdoor activities. I advocate for sustainable living, a reduction of carbon and ecological footprint in our daily lives. I advocate for a greater love, appreciation of and connection with our natural environment and the biodiversity that has been given to us.

Kids climbing in Peak District.


The problems of the world are so huge, so overwhelming. What can we do? What can I do?

I can't change international policies or influence global politics (at the moment anyway). I can't dictate what the national government should do. I can't march up to an environmentally and socially unethical conglomerate and demand that they turn to more ethical alternatives.

But I can tell my friends (read: Facebook spam) about issues. I can encourage them to start taking small steps towards a more sustainable and ethical living. By spreading the word and awareness, and putting it at the forefront of my friends' minds, I can, hopefully, make a little positive impact in this world.

I've attended multiple talks, read many articles about what needs to be done and what we can do. While I wouldn't say I'm an expert on anything already, just from my limited experiences, I do see some common themes emerging time and again.

And I think, ultimately, it boils down to a few things:
1) Local.
Global problems are alarming. They intimidate and put off people. And there's no personal stake in it. So what if the world burns? As long as the fire doesn't reach me in my little bubble, it's fine. Once you start realising that there are little wildfires near you as well, you would probably be more inclined to take action. Whether it's prevention, like banning people from dropping lit cigarettes on the ground or banning fire crackers, or mitigation, like trying to fire-proof your belongings and learning how to fire-fight, or adaptation, like getting insurance so just in case your house does burn down, you still have something left to start your life over again. You will want to do something, I'm sure.

2) Action.
It's no use what continually talking about problems and issues and not giving people any place to direct their energy. People could feel outraged over something they read. But if there's no place to channel that fury, then it'll just die down and be forgotten.
There are so many things we can do.
By the choices you make: What you are eating. Where you are buying your clothes/food. Where is your money going to (investments). How you travel.
By the things you say: Whether in daily face-to-face conversations, on social media, or on your blog.
By the actions you take: Do you practise what you preach?

And while you and I can't do anything about national or international politics, politics ultimately reflect the people's sentiment (or they should anyway). If more people started caring about the environment, about social justice, about the future that they want, I'm sure the people up there will notice and do something about it. Ideally.



3) Positive.
Linked to the above point, there's no use being all doom and gloom and being pessimistic and jaded and cynical over anything and everything. Yes, there are problems, we need to acknowledge that. But we also need to stay positive, upbeat and hopeful. We need to have the faith that things can and will change for the better, if we all do something about it. Otherwise, what's the point in life?

And when we're trying to spread the word and share the love, what matters is having a story, an engaging narrative. Also, to draw the connection between the outcome we want (for environmental reasons) and other aspects of life. Like economics and humanity and various other stuff. Ultimately, it's putting across the right message to suit the right audience, and I believe that what most people in this world want are the same anyway.

A cleaner world, a safer world, a more equitable world, a more sustainable world. Not a world of suffering, whether from social injustice or environmental degradation/destruction or climate change impacts.

I'm not anybody special, not anybody famous, not anybody well-known. But I do believe that doing what I do, taking little steps at a time, I can (eventually) make a difference in this big, vast but infinitely amazing planet we call home. And I believe we all can as well.


Don't end up like this:



Monday, March 18, 2013

End of Lent term.

Finally the end of term! It's been a thoroughly exhausting, fast-paced but exciting term.

This term was a lot better than the last. I enjoyed the topics in courses much more, I felt like I kept on top of most of my work, I was busy with the Nature Society and the Climate & Sustainability Forum and various other things. The Singaporean/Malaysian Catholics also formed a group and we meet every week for rosary and discussion and food, and it's all very awesome (:

I was going to say that I only managed to attend 19 talks/panel debates etc this term, but then I checked my post for Michaelmas term and it appears that I attended about 19 talks last term as well! So I guess I'm still keeping up with my insatiable need for talks. (:

Didn't live-tweet most (though I was in charge of live-tweeting the Climate Forum on Friday, which was absolutely tiring), and have yet to get round to digitising and sharing the content of the talks, some of which were very interesting! Talks I attended revolved around global warming & social ethics, scientific autonomy, sustainable fuels, conservation & climate change, circadian clocks, REDD+, social inequity and development, job rich low carbon economy, biodiversity & making poverty history, top-down approaches to climate change issues, social dimensions of climate change, cost of conservation, re-wilding, survival science, mammal diversity etc.
So not as diverse as last term's, mostly revolving around the same few topics, but they've all been really interesting.

Didn't manage to exercise as much as last term either :( not even climb! :( :( Trade-offs. I did go for the local climbing gym competition and managed to get 5th. It was like Climb-nival style, so 20 routes and 5 hours, do as many as you can do get the highest score. And even though I only could stay for an hour, I got just 30+ points less than the lady who got 1st! Perhaps if I could stay longer....

Anyway, also ate a lot less in college, which is probably not a bad thing, but I do have a minimum quote to fulfill.

Overall, it's been a good term. I really need to manage my time better though, and waste less time doing random nonsense. Anyway, terrible post this, didn't have the inspiration to post but wanted to mark the end of the term.


This vacation should be good, with two field trips - one to Arran, Scotland for earth sciences and another to Orielton, Pembroke, Wales for evolution & behaviour. I really hope I am disciplined enough to study hard.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What would you do?

(so I meant to post this on Tuesday, but work and other things got in the way).


There are many reasons for helping people. Cause it makes me feel good? Cause I want to make things better in this world? Cause my religion says I should?

Image taken from: http://www.functionally-insane.com/luke-14/


It's easy to give help in situations where your help will be reciprocated. Help your friend; your friend will help you back. Help old people carry things if they are struggling with it. Help people open door. Donate to charities. Any number of little helpful things we can do everyday that won't be a major inconvenience to ourselves and which most people do anyway.

But soon you enter a more grey area, where helping others does come at a rather major cost to yourself. Either a social cost or a economic cost or whatever.



I think when this video started circulating on Facebook, lots of my friends were like "(: for the last guy" kinda thing. And perhaps we'd like to think the same of ourselves, that we would do something like that.

But will we? From the comforts of our room and just looking through a screen, it's easy to think the best of ourselves.

We'd like to think that we would all help the homeless. Yet many times, people just walk past them on the streets as though they don't exist. And lots of my friends, I know, while they don't pretend these people don't exist, they wouldn't donate either?

Perhaps if you grew up in a place where there are many homeless, you could get desensitised to the sight. In Singapore though, you rarely if ever, see people sleep out in the open, on the streets. So coming to the UK, where it is not a rare sight, and especially in US when I was there in Dec, where it was quite a common sight, was quite unnerving.

My first reaction would be to help. Donate some money, perhaps? But then you think about more, and you start wondering perhaps this guy is an alcoholic, and he'll just use the cash to buy more alcohol. And so you just don't bother and start to ignore these people, and pretend they don't exist.

But should I really be offering my room/house to the homeless?
Image taken from: http://dvsoul.org.uk/soul_food/


(And I'd say this was different from a situation in a developing country, where whipping out your coin purse to give someone a donation results in hoards of people following you like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.)

Then this video came along, being shared virally on Facebook as well.


And again, first instinct as an armchair critic is: What! How can people just walk away from a murder and not offer help!?!?

Yet honestly, I asked myself, what would I do if I saw that? Scream, definitely. Try to get the murderer away from the victim or vice versa? I'm not too sure. I could die in the process (esp if it's something more lethal than a cord).


Anyway, the chances of me coming across a murder in action is very much less than the chances of me coming across a homeless person.

I was walking down Hills Road with my friend, looking for a breakfast place. I noticed a guy sitting outside the cafe, clearly sleeping rough. What would you do?

I went up to him, and asked him if he was hungry, and if he'd like a sandwich. He said yes, so I got him a baguette and a cup of coffee, gave it to him, and left.


Presumably, helping people should make you happy. Yet I didn't feel good after that incident at all. I was just left wondering why is it that people have to sleep rough? I wondered if the guy was genuinely in need of help and hungry? And then I wondered some more: so what if that guy was perhaps, a crook. And I helped him. Would that be wrong? I guess not; after all a good deed is always a good deed right?

And people may think that it's really nice of me to do that. But I think, I could have done so much more. Perhaps I could have invited him into the cafe to warm up. Perhaps I could bring him to some shelter somewhere? Perhaps...

There are so many things we can do, it's just a matter of to which extent do we want to extend our help.



Anyway, I guess my point was more of: what would you do, if you saw an injustice?



NB: If this seemed a little incoherent, pardon me. I've only had 2 20min naps since waking up at 8.30am on Thursday, and it's now 1.00am on Saturday. Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Forum is my excuse.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Maintaining connections.

Being away from home, there are always bouts of homesickness. Times when I really miss being in a culturally and environmentally familiar location, surrounded by familiar and close people.

Most people would know I am online a lot, and I read a lot of online articles (and share excessively on social media). Lots of them are shared by friends and by organisations I follow on social media.

One of my friends shared this on Facebook.
I don't watch many videos, but the few that I do watch are during bouts of homesickness (The Noose!) and certain Nature/environment-related ones that people share.

Watching PCK was different from watching The Noose though. The Noose reminded me of home, of the things happening back there and the idiosyncrasies of Singaporeans. PCK reminded me of that, and of how things used to be just 10, 20 years ago. I spent quite a bit of my childhood watching PCK and Under One Roof, and I think those were very different times from now.

Couple of weeks ago, another friend shared this video.
While I was not around during that period, the video (the whole series, really) reminded me of my primary school days. Of Moral Education when we watched films (that were of the same quality as the above!) about what we should/should not do. Those were the times of slow PCs and frequent computer issues. Now, the webpage just has to be slow in loading and I'll be frustrated already :/

Anyway, after watching PCK, I read a really long but beautifully written article on childhood and the environment and our connection with Nature, all centred around Winnie-the-Pooh by Liam Heneghan, on Aeon Magazine. (Aeon has wonderful articles). I love Winnie-the-Pooh stories. I have a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books back home, even the A.A. Milne version, not just the Disney ones. I grew up reading Winnie-the-Pooh, as well as Sherlock Holmes, and Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books.


Much of my reading in my early years was pretty British. I grew up reading about rabbits and hedgehogs, great tits and robins, the Hundred-Acre-Woods and the Faraway Tree – all as un-tropical as can be. So in some sense, coming here to the UK for my tertiary education was kind of a throwback to my childhood, seeing the landscape and creatures that I've read about. (And it is also partially why I preferred going to the UK over the US.)

Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree. Image taken from: http://kathylovestoread.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/magic-faraway-tree-by-enid-blyton.html


I don't really know what I'm getting at in this rambly post. I guess it's just about being reminded of my childhood days, when things seemed much simpler. Maintaining that connection to places of my childhood (in the PCK episode where his school was being demolished); not just how things are changing so quickly in Singapore, but also worldwide with climate change, as reminded in the Aeon article. And how it's important, more than ever, that kids should grow up with a close connection to the land and to Nature. Whether through books, like in my case if it can be considered that, or documentaries, or best, through the physical interaction itself.



I need to go walk in Ashdown Forest one day while I'm here.