Why release 60 balloons into the air to launch Earth Hour Singapore?

I felt quite disgusted when I saw the newspaper article about the launch of Earth Hour in Singapore.
Can someone tell me why is there a need to release 60 balloons into the air to “signify” the launch of earth hour in Singapore? Yes, I understand that these are biodegradable balloons. But do you know how long it takes to bio-degrade? 1 week? 1 month? 6 month? And while it is bio-degrading, it is considered a pollution? What if the balloon end up in the sea and some marine life mistook it as their prey and eat it? There are known case where infant sperm whales and marine turtles died as a result of swallowing balloons. Some of them are near extinction. It doesn’t matter if the balloons are biodegradable or not. The damages are the same.
I’m not making these up. Look here and here.
It is an irony that the managing director of WWF Singapore is one of the person releasing those balloons into the air. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. SERIOUSLY?
Earth Hour is for a good cause, to generate awareness to the effect of global warming. But while promoting the event, please take note of other environmental issues. The release of balloons is totally unnecessary. I hope Earth Hour Singapore will stop this practice in the future. Come on, surely there are other ways to signify the launch of Earth Hour without harming the environment.
Don’t misunderstand me. I support the Earth Hour. Just that I don’t support the way that they launch the event in Singapore. I hope the organizers will be mindful of the environmental impact when promoting and conducting the event. No point stopping global warming but in the process create another environmental issue.
Earth hour is on 28 March 2009, 8:30pm. Remember to turn off your lights.


  1. hohoho, just nice I’m doing my thesis on biodegradable plastics and polymers.
    The thing about biodegradable plastics, is that yes they biodegrade, but into smaller particles that still can harm the environment.
    And then, the process of manufacturing such plastics is not energy or resource free. Well of course, I’m not challenging the notion of releasing the balloons, just want to share how environmental friendly it actually is/isn’t.
    As for whether the effects are the same or not, please wait for my fyp thesis to be completed.
    chillycraps’s last blog post..stabbing incident

  2. ya, this is plain dumb. just like the live earth concert. IMO, Singapore is the one of the worst environment friendly countries. Look at all the waste and misuse of natural resources we made in everyday life. All those ads and recycle bins are just for show. When there is a sale, free stuff or bargains, all these gets throw out the window. (look at the number of brochures on the floor of the coming IT show)
    @Chillycraps: Nice to catch you here. Taking a break from your FYP?
    tiger4’s last blog post..2009 Oscar, Actor in Supporting Role – Heath Ledger

  3. Chillycraps: Shoo shoo… Don’t come and plug your FYP Thesis here. hahaha.
    On a serious note, Biodegradable are still harmful to the environment? WOW, that is interesting. When you finishing your FYP report?
    Tiger4: I think Singapore is not that bad when it comes to environmental friendly. But more can be done. 🙂

  4. degradation simply means break into smaller pieces. It just means, now the harmful stuff, even fish with smaller mouth can eat.
    Degradation and decomposition are 2 different things.

  5. Balloon releases are spectacular and an emotionally moving effect for people througout the world. While some consider them “unnecessary”, if we were to ban all things in this category, the world would be without football, opera, amusement parks. air travel and cats – just to name a few.
    A study was done here in the US – where I live – on the common house cat and how many birds are killed annually just in the state of Minnesota. The number was staggering: 27,000 per year in that state alone. Take any one of the other subjects mentioned above and documented facts can be sited that show ill effects to our enviroment – even death to humans – caused by each on a regular basis. (do you know how many human beings have been killed in auto accidents while in route to the opera in just one city?) Who can argue that opera is necessary?
    Latex balloons have frequently been confused with plastics but are not. They are made with 100% pure latex which comes from the sap of rubber trees and is harvested in the same manner as maple syrup. No harm done to the trees and in fact, latex is the largest natural product that comes out of the rain forests. More balloons = saving our rain forests.
    The myth of latex balloons harming wildlife has been circulated for more than 20 years now and is simply not true. To date – there is not one scientific case of a latex balloon from a professionally done balloon release causing the death of any animal or sea creature. When presented with the facts, enviromentalists have stated to me that just because there is no evidence, doesn’t mean it is not happening. Very hard logic to argue with.
    Latex balloons biodegrade very rapidly – 6 months to a year depending on ocean or land.
    Professionally done balloon releases – latex only and no ribbon or attachments – are not done every day in every city. Like fireworks or other celebratory events, they are done infrequently and do not cause harm or persistant litter.
    In studying this issue in depth for the past 20 years, it is frustrating to have the same misinformation passed along over and over again by people who simply want to ban something and make up stories and twist the facts to fit their cause.

  6. TNH: Let me guess, your company do balloon release. 🙂
    I’ve seen that argument before. But sorry, I don’t buy it. It takes 6 months to biodegrade. Meanings for that 6 months, there is a risk of a marine life eating it and die. There has been reports of such cases.
    There are many ways to launch an event. I just feel that balloon release is not a suitable way to launch something that is promoting awareness to the environment.

  7. dk,
    I support you feeling however you want. I just want for everyone to deal with their feelings based on truth. You choose to perpetuate a myth that latex balloons pose a risk to marine life. This is not true. I don’t dispute that there have been countless headlines and “reports” of such cases. Having done exhaustive study on this issue for more than 20 years, I have yet to find any documented proof.
    Using latex balloons to promote awarness about the enviroment is in fact perfect as latex is the largest natural product harvested from our beautiful rain fortests.

  8. TNH: Latex is already used in many products found in daily life. There is no need to purposely release balloon to keep the latex industries going. Balloon only take up a tiny percentage of the latex produced world wide. I doubt it will affect the latex industry.
    I’m surprised that your 20 years of research didn’t find any documented proof of marine life death due to balloons. Perhaps you would want to work with the Marine Conservation Society in UK. They seems to have found several cases already.

  9. Seelan Palay: To be fair to Earth Hour Singapore, that issue is totally out of their jurisdiction. But thanks for pointing out about Kampung Buangkok.
    The last news I have about Kampung Buangkok was that it is supposed to make way for a new road. But as the development of the new town in that area has slowed down due to lack of demand, the Government haven’t taken the land back.
    Let’s hope it stay this way forever. 🙂

  10. TNH, “having done exhaustive study on this issue for more than 20 years”, you should reveal who you are, so that your “exhaustive study” has a chance of being seen to be credible.

  11. Thanks for promoting Earth Hour! Another way you can recruit people to the cause is by creating a Earth Hour group on Commit21.com. Simply create a group about one action that you will commit to do for Earth Hour and recruit your friends, family, and co-workers to get involved in that action as well. When it comes to climate change, simple actions can make huge differences and Commit21 leverages social media to influence networks of friends, family, and co-workers. Check it out at http://www.commit21.com/

  12. If you bothered to do your research before writing this up, you would have found out that once a balloon is inflated with helium and released into the earths atmosphere, once it reaches a few miles high, the pressure is so high and the temperature is so low, the balloons will shatter into thousands of tiny pieces. This can not kill a sperm whale. I do agree that a whole balloon may, but a balloon that has been released and shattered and fallen back to the earth CANNOT.
    I work in the industry and have done extensive research on ballon releases and also ran several tests.
    Please be careful what you say.

  13. Teigan: If your company have done extensive research on balloon releases, then I’m sure you would have seen this.
    You are right, some balloons will shatter into many of pieces if they reach high enough in the atmosphere. But you forgot that not all balloons reaches that height. Some of them return back to the ground without shattering. Those are still harmful to the wildlife.
    And you will have to depends on luck to see how many thousands of pieces the balloon scatter into. If it breaks into 2 pieces, it is still big enough to harm smaller wildlife.
    So why take the chance?

  14. The use of balloons that crosses global lines is tragic when it some to pollution, but do a search on the garbage patch that is bigger than the state of Texas, and see the future!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *