Yawning Bread Photo Essay - August 2006

Our trees





In May this year, Ignatius Low, a Straits Times journalist, wrote a column in which he mentioned that Orchard Road wasn't as bright as some other cities' premier shopping streets at night. He attributed it to the thick canopy of trees. To give Orchard more buzz, he suggested that we should cut down some of the trees,  replacing them with species with less dense foliage.

Predictably, readers were aghast. Our streets would be unbearably hot without our trees, they wrote in their letters to the newspaper.

This summer, we've been reading about a heat wave in Europe. Temperatures soared to the mid and upper 30's in many capitals, touching 40 degrees in places. European cities are not built for hot weather: their piazze and city-centre streets are generally treeless. With global warming, these become frying pans.

Too many Asian planners in the tropics have been seduced by the ideas of their erstwhile colonial masters, adopting Western design principles for their capital cities. With explosive population and vehicular growth in the last few decades, heat, noise and pollution have become Asian cities' primary characteristics. 


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