August 17, 2019
SINGAPORE — The small island nation of Singapore, long known for its bans on mundane products such as chewing gum and cigarettes, has now banned exhaling. These two actions join a long list of already-banned actions in Singapore, including spitting, feeding pigeons, and using a phone in a pulled-over car — each of which can net you a fine of $500 or more.
The new bill touts exhalation monitors on all citizens, which will be used to track citizens’ carbon dioxide output. “We’re very concerned about our carbon footprint,” disclosed a law enforcement officer when interviewed about the law. “We realized that a huge contributor to the carbon dioxide levels in Singapore is the human population, and as part of our goal to become the world’s greenest city, we believe that changing our own behaviours is a crucial step towards that goal.”
Citizens will be fined daily, according to the amount of carbon dioxide they produce. The first 10 litres are free, but the leniency ends there. Fines start at a “meagre” $100 for violations of 10-100 litres produced, but they rapidly increase thereafter. Flagrant violation — defined as exhaling over 600 litres of carbon dioxide — could land you in prison for a year, and carries a fine up to $10,000.
Protests arose from the STEM community over the logistics of the bill. “You exhale about 1 kilogramme of carbon dioxide per day,” says first year chemistry student Lim Ming Kai. “I’m not sure about the pressure specifics, but when you’re as close to sea level as we are in Singapore, that translates to about 500 litres of carbon dioxide per day. I did fail biology in secondary 4, but I’m pretty sure breathing the bare minimum amount is fairly important to surviving.”
This means that some hefty fines are on the line when it comes to controlling carbon dioxide output. Already, several street stalls have popped up at local hawker centers, promising to teach breath control and methods to survive while breathing only once per minute. Legislators are scrambling to also capitalize off this law, promising tax subsidies to those who exercise more than three times a week, in an inspiring push for “physical fitness”.
Ordinary citizens are surprisingly nonchalant about this issue, given the magnitude to which it could affect ordinary life. According to one pedestrian we interviewed, “this law might disrupt everyday life, but there are rumours that you will be able to buy a certificate to exhale more — similar to the system for owning a car. Of course, this means we’ll also have to buy licenses to own said certificates, but in the long run it’ll be worth it.”
Regrettably, President Yacob could not be reached for comment, as she was in the middle of negotiating contracts to increase the size of the police force, in order to manage the violations that may result following these new laws.
By: Daniel Ng