25 March 2009

Reactions to mass balloon release

Party pooper, more important things to ban, and details of the response of the organisers to a suggestion NOT to release balloons. These were some of the comments posted to the Straits Times site on the letter yesterday about the impact of mass balloon release.

Are mass balloon releases not a big deal?

I found out a little more from A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It by the Ocean Conservancy who conduct International Coastal Cleanup.

Balloons are not on the top ten marine debris items. (click on image for enlarged view of the tables).
But this doesn't mean they are not an issue. Balloons continue to be monitored as one of the kinds of marine debris that entangle marine wildlife. Balloons are not as huge a problem as abandoned fishing lines and traps. But perhaps because Death-by-Balloon is not as visible externally. Animals may choke/starve and die and we won't know the cause without the carcass and an autopsy.
The data from Singapore suggests we do have more balloon litter on our shores, compared to some other countries. More about International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and how you can join in the effort.
Want to do something about balloon releases?
Email me (Ria, hello@wildsingapore.com) as some of us are thinking about what we can do about this.

Comments on the Straits Times Forum discussion thread on Celebrate marriage without balloons a letter by Sheri Kristen Goh, as of 25 Mar 09 10am

Misnomer, Yesterday, 08:11 AM
Please don't make life so black and white. It is miserable enough, a bit of colour and beauty for the eyes will lift the spirits. Relax lah, we won't die because of some burst balloon latex.
Misnomer

angwahang, Yesterday, 09:15 AM
Hey lady, dont think too deeply and conduct research...just enjoy good things in a life... it is only once in a while.
angwahang

kilofoxtrot, Yesterday, 11:25 AM
i totally agree with the writer. How can anyone say "just enjoy good things in a life... it is only once in a while" - that is socially and environmentally irresponsible. How about dumping all that used balloons in your back yard would you still be so " relax la"
kilofoxtrot

skinners, Yesterday, 11:37 AM
Wah, like that also cannot. LTA should ban cars then, they are more pollutive.
skinners

Misnomer, Yesterday, 12:22 PM
Where I am now, they fire firecrackers and fireworks... don't know if that is also pollutive.
Misnomer

skinners, Yesterday, 01:13 PM
The most pollution comes from words of MIWs. They stink. Smells kills.
skinners

sharlynrj, Yesterday, 06:45 PM
See your MP. He may be able to stop this nonsense.
sharlynrj

victorliu, Yesterday, 09:49 PM
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!
victorliu

XIIIblackcat, Yesterday, 09:51 PM
Judging by the wind direction, I believe all the balloons will be blown over to Malaysia. =)

Cutting down on unnecessary greenhouse gas emission should be of utmost priority than stopping some fun of releasing balloons into the air.

More links on balloons and wildlife

6 comments:

  1. I think my blood pressure just went up a little when I saw the comments by victorliu. So, someone did warn them about the impact of balloon release but they choose to turn a deaf ear.

    Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This issue has been discussed for more than 20 years and in that time there has not been one (1) documented report of an animal, sea creature, bird etc. dying from ingesting a balloon. When this is ultimately reported, the response I have gotten is: just because there is no evidence, does not mean it is not happening. A very hard point to argue. Balloon releases - when professionally done (latex only with no ribbons or strings attached) are completely safe and very beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. TNH: I think you fail to notice that the balloon release done recently in Singapore wasn't so called "professionally" done. There are nylon strings attached to the balloon. That means we have 1000 balloons and 1000 nylon strings in the sea/land now.

    As mentioned previously on my blog by one of my readers, if you and your company have done extensive research over the past 20 years, then where is the report? Perhaps you can publish it online to enlighten everyone. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sadly, TNH there are documented cases. I've just done a post on sea turtles ingesting balloons. I stopped after a while. There were too many reports. I didn't have the heart to look at more photos of how our thoughtless behaviour kills marine life.

    I am sure there are many other beautiful ways to celebrate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. DK,
    The balloon industry has gone to great lengths to educate the public and balloon professionals on the subject of balloon releases and will continue to do so. It is not productive to make false claims to support a point of view and that is what is occuring over and over again with this issue. The industry has studied all the information and reports from when these claims first started and have not found one documented case of any creature dying from ingesting a latex balloon from a professionally done release. I do believe it is the responsiblity of the people/organizations who are publishing as fact that animals, sea creatures, birds etc. are dying as a result of eating balloons to list at least one (1) case rather than ask me to prove something that is not happening.

    ria - yes, it is well documented that sea turtles (being scavengers) will eat almost anything to satiate their appetite. This sometimes includes different types of ocean debris and on occassion pieces of latex balloons. It has been proven through controlled testing - University of Miami - that these pieces of latex pass through their system without harming the turtle.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You will find more professional balloon decorators do not condone balloon releases and discourage clients from doing so. You will find almost every balloon person has a pet, a child, or is environmentally conscious. I just hate it when people point to the balloon industry and say it their fault - lets put the blame where it at - the company paying for the balloon release!

    ReplyDelete

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