Here is some contradicting information regarding Marriage Central‘s mass balloon release at their Real Love Works event held at Marina Barrage last Saturday.
victorliu, one of the commenter at ST Discussion forum claims that he wrote to the organisers to warn them about the environment impact but the organisers choose to turn a deaf ear.
Anita Fam, the chairperson of the Marriage Central Advisory Board, commented (twice) on my blog saying that it did not occur to them that the mass balloon release will impact the environment.
I wrote an email to Anita informing her that someone by the nick victorliu claims that he had warn Marriage Central about the environment impact but was ignored. Anita replied saying that they have event organisers for the Real Love Works and she is not sure of the fine details involved. I tried asking for the contact details for the event organisers so that I can verify if victorliu emailed them but the request was rejected by Anita.
So who is speaking the truth here? Was Marriage Central and their event organisers warned about the environment impact of mass balloon release a week before the event? Or was it a false claim made by victorliu?
If you have any information on how I can get in touch with victorliu or Marriage Central’s event organisers for Real Love Works, please kindly drop me a email or comment. Thank you.

At first, I thought that Marriage Central‘s mass balloon release was just a case of ignorant. Maybe the organisers thought that it’s just releasing 1000 balloons into the air and it won’t cause any problem. But apparently, someone wrote an email to Marriage Central a week before the event but Marriage Central choose to turn a deaf ear. Here is the comments written by victorliu on 24 March 2009, 09:49 PM with regards to the Straits Times Forum article.

I agree with the writer.
I emailed the organizers of this event once to request they plan an alternative event. This is what I got:
Thank you very much for your email. We appreciate your kind feedback and have taken note of your concern with regards to our event that will be held at the Marina Barrage next weekend. Please rest assured that we have obtained the necessary clearances and permission from the relevant authorities for the mass releasing of balloons. We will most certainly keep your suggestion in mind for upcoming events in future.
So I replied to say that they were missing the point, that this event could already cause damage. It’s been more than a week and no one has replied.
I am very very disappointed with our Clean and Green Garden City that would actually risk killing sea turtles to celebrate marriages. Surely there must be some other way!
Also, for those who think people against releasing balloons are just being anal, you won’t die without seeing pretty balloons flying away, but many innocent creatures will if you are so bent on doing so.
So please spare a thought for all the innocent animals, and the ecology. Find some more environmentally friendly way of holding celebrations, please!

Note that I’m not able to verify if that is really the reply from Marriage Central. I hope to get in touch with victorliu to get the entire email conversation. But the Straits Times forum online does not allow private messaging. If anyone knows how I can get in touch with victorliu, please drop me a comment/email. Thanks.
If that comment is really true, then it just go to shows that Marriage Central simply don’t care about the environment. All they want to do is to create a great event for themselves. I’m utterly disappointed. The organisers should visit this website and read about the damages they have done.
And I wonder, who are the “relevant authorities” who approved the mass balloon release? NEA? CAAS? PUB?

And I thought I was the only moron in this tiny little island who bothers about the balloon release by Marriage Central last Saturday. I’m surprised that there are other “morons like me’ out there who care too.
I was cheering in my heart when I read the Straits Times Forum today. I could never said it better than you.

I HEARD an advertisement on the radio for the event Real Love Works 2009, at the Marina Barrage last Saturday.
While I applaud the organiser, Marriage Central, on its efforts to promote longevity of marriage in Singapore, I would like to ask if it is truly necessary to mass-release ‘love balloons’ as part of the event.
While hundreds of balloons flying off into the sky may be a pretty sight, people need to remember that the balloons do not just vanish or vaporise. Once they burst or deflate, they come back down to earth. While latex balloons are biodegradable in the long run, in the short run, they are nothing but litter and pollution.
As the Marina Barrage is at the water’s edge, the balloons that end up in the sea are eaten by dolphins, turtles, sharks and other sea life. They can cause serious problems in these creatures’ digestive systems, resulting in pain and sometimes death.
Ingestion of too much latex can cause the sea creatures to become too buoyant. As a result, they will not be able to dive into the sea to hunt for food, and they will starve. Ribbons and strings that are often tied to these balloons are not biodegradable and can cause entanglement and even strangulation.
Balloons that end up on land also result in litter problems. In fact, the mass release of balloons is so problematic, it is illegal in some states in the United States.
By all means, celebrate marriage and long-term commitment. But please do so in an ecologically considerate way, without causing harm to the natural environment.
Sheri Kristen Goh (Ms)

I find it amusing that people don’t see releasing of balloon as a form of littering. Just because the balloon look nice and goes up doesn’t mean that you are not littering when you let go of the balloon. I hope this forum letter will prompt NEA and CAAS to take action against future balloon release. I personally think that the 500 balloons limit per event is too much.
Check out the blog article by Wild Shores of Singapore.

1,000 couples reaffirm love and commitment at Marina Barrage event called Real Love Works held by Marriage Central (by National Family Council). As a symbol of their soaring love, a thousand balloons were released into the sky.
OK, let me get this right. 1000 couples gathered at Marina Barrage and release 1000 balloons into the sky as a symbol of their soaring love. Their “soaring love” flew into the sky and is carried away to the open sea by the wind. Several hours later, their “soaring love” runs out of helium and falls back to the ground and some into the sea. Some marine life might mistook their “soaring love” as prey, eat it and die. Hmmm…. great symbolism.
Hurray for “soaring love”.
Seriously, is there a need for releasing balloons to signify something. I do not understand how a simple releasing of balloon can be used to signify love. (And in previous case, signify launch of earth hour) If releasing balloon can be used to signify anything, I think it should be signifying pollution and murder. Surely there can be other ways to signify soaring love.
Which makes me wonder, are those 1000 balloon biodegradable? Even if they are biodegradable, it can still pose as a threat to marine life, especially when the balloon release was held at Marina Barrage which is next to open sea. And as Chillycraps mentioned previously, biodegradable plastics only biodegrade into smaller particles which still can harm the environment. (Further details please wait for his thesis to finish)
There are many ways to bring your event message across without harming the environment and wildlife. Instead of releasing balloons to signify “soaring love”, why not hold on to the balloon to signify “holding on to love”.
Oh, by the way, I thought the maximum number of balloon release allowed in Singapore is 500? Did the event organisers apply a permit from CAAS?
Update: Just saw the photos of the event on ECL’s blog. Imagine all that landing into the sea. (One of the balloon even reached JB)
PS: Saw on the photos that balloons are tied to nylon string. The one that Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was holding is tied to a ribbon. Even if the balloons are biodegradable, I’m sure the nylon string aren’t. And nylon string can also do a lot of damages to marine life.

I felt quite disgusted when I saw the newspaper article about the launch of Earth Hour in Singapore.
sthome_11dec08_b4
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.