The culture and polity that is Singapore, strategic sand reserve edition

by on April 24, 2017 at 2:56 am in Economics, Political Science, Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Lim had told me that Singapore holds a strategic sand reserve, for emergencies.  It lies somewhere near the area called Bedok, I said.  I spotted it one day as I rode past in a taxi.  The site was strewn with No Trespassing signs, installed by the Housing and Development Board, a government agency.  Fenced off from the public, the giant trapezoidal dunes shone bone-white in the sun and caramel in the shade, as the sand waited to be summoned.

That is from an excellent piece by Samanth Subramanian (NYT), about Singapore, land, and preparing for climate change.  The Singaporean constitution also devotes several pages to outlining how the government will manage its investments.

1 April 24, 2017 at 3:25 am
2 prior_test2 April 24, 2017 at 4:55 am

‘and preparing for climate change’

So silly, as many of the most loyal commenters here will attest. We exist in an obviously unchanging world, where cause and effect is merely an illusion.

3 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 8:25 am

Or they will claim the amount of sand is miscalculated, and thus unnecessary.

4 prior_test2 April 24, 2017 at 8:38 am

Yes exactly. Yet we all know that Singapore has almost German like precision in their calculation of complex future events.

5 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

Does Germany have a good reputation for precision in calculation of complex future events?

6 msgkings April 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Their rep is more precision is calculating how best to rip off car buyers.

7 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 1:19 am

msgkings – didn’t every single auto company basically do the same thing?

I never really understood why they got fined massively when no action was taken against any other company doing any similar such thing.

8 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 1:23 am

Then again, US court, foreign competitor.

Ever heard of RIM? Made Blackberries? (The cause of the Clinton email crisis, because she wanted all her stuff going through that one phone – they make secure phones, or at least used to until the notion of a secure phone was beaten out of us by … who the hell know who …). Anyways, RIM is not dead yet, but it had to pay $300 million to a patent troll for the idea to send text from one device to another when every bloody phone on the market was doing precisely that by SMS!

Why did Blackberry PAY when no one else did?

Why did VW pay through the teeth when other companies did not get even a slap on the wrist?

You see, I question the impartiality of US courts. For which reason London will continue to have strong benefits as a location of headquarters for many important international businesses.

9 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 8:33 am

Great. I go from this to see that open is being shut down.

Nothing says confidence in your beliefs like hiding the data.

10 Chip April 24, 2017 at 10:00 am

Actually, it is skeptics who believe change to be a natural condition of climate, and AGW proponents who believe change is determined by man. There is a mountain of evidence for the former and none for the latter.

Do keep up.

11 Moo cow April 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

That’s fine. But why deep six the data?

12 Alain April 24, 2017 at 10:50 am

Why pay to keep serving nonsense data?

Look, zealot, this is the internet. If the data is truly valuable it will be snapshotted and someone will host it. You’re just crying since someone stopped paying for your religious ceremonies.

Ps: it looks like this has been done already. Go pay your tithing.

13 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

This is what “rational bankruptcy” looks like.

14 Moo cow April 24, 2017 at 11:26 am

My religious ceremony??

That’s some epic butthurt bro. Hahahahaaaaaahaha.

15 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 11:46 am

Can’t you see how clever it is? Someone takes careful measurements for decades .. just call that person a “zealot” with “nonsense data.”

He is defeated. It sticks him with the “orange haired middle finger.”

Secretly we know this is all that White America can aspire to.

.. we are not Singaporean, after all. Tyler would be writing very different books if he were Singaporean.

16 Jan April 25, 2017 at 5:27 am

“Yeah, zealots!” Alain has become a caricature of himself.

There is no truth, only internet comments from the unhinged.

17 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 10:25 am

Chip, you obviously live in a fantasy world where there have only ever been “wrong models,” where scientists have never been self-critical, have never refined or improved their beliefs.

How can we ever compete with that kind of belief? It is too far from reality to even engage.

18 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 1:24 am

It changed before for some reason. Therefore the present cause of change is impossible.

it’s like when you take something out of the fridge. Hence, it becomes impossible for things to exist the fridge by means other than you.

Understand my logic?

19 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 10:50 am

We can always count on you for atrocious straw men. Keep it up.

20 Axa April 24, 2017 at 6:09 am

About a week ago China and Myanmar opened an oil pipeline. Ships from the Middle East discharge in Myanmar and then oil is pumped to China to avoid the Malacca Strait. “Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.”

6% of China imports is approx 500,000 bbl per day or 40% of France’s demand. The Chinese also think about a rail connection between West China and a large port in Myanmar´s coast. This should be even more worrying than rising sea levels.

21 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 1:37 am

I don’t get you.

Are you concerned about sea levels rising and are blaming the Chinese for accumulations resulting from production activities which took place in China?

Or is there some reason to be specifically concerned that a trading partner of China has a rail line that runs between the sea and the border?

Or are you just looking for excuses to malign multiple groups you don’t like without saying anything in particular?

(P.S – lemme know when Chinese energy usage per capita reaches do much as half of that in the West, and I might start to think it’s about time to start lecturing them.)

22 chuck martel April 24, 2017 at 6:56 am

” as the sand waited to be summoned.”

Subramanian needs an editor.

23 rayward April 24, 2017 at 7:31 am

“Singapore doesn’t reveal how much money its two sovereign wealth funds administer, but a senior economist at the Macquarie Group estimated their value at just under a trillion dollars.” And much of that is invested in China. It doesn’t take a war to put dynamism in the Singapore economy. I’ve commented that America’s high level of inequality contributes to complacency and lack of dynamism, yet Singapore’s inequality is just as high if not higher. Why the difference? A benevolent dictator, perhaps. Will Singapore’s dynamism survive his death? Is Trump America’s Lee Kuan Yew? If not, will it take a war to reduce inequality and put dynamism back into the American economy?

24 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 1:45 am

Lower sample size has higher average variation?

25 Hoosier April 24, 2017 at 8:25 am

How stupid of Singapore to waste their money on something that isn’t real. Don’t they read the comments section of MR? Maybe this all part of the elaborate Chinese ruse that Trump talked about?

26 Melmoth April 24, 2017 at 9:07 am

Malaysia and Indonesia banned sand exports to singapore I believe. As Singapore uses reclaimed land for industry, eg Jurong Island, I assume this is to give their own industrial territories near Singapore, such as Batam, an advantage.

27 sunbomb April 24, 2017 at 9:26 am

Great read about Singapore; Thanks! Small Island, Big Plans indeed.

28 Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 9:51 am

What’s with these Singapore guys? Don’t they know the fundamental fallacy of assuming politics is about policy. It’s not, and has never been. What’s that meme? They need Hanson (Robin).

29 Enrique April 24, 2017 at 9:51 am

Tyler and my fellow Singapore-philes may enjoy this nostalgic website called “Remembering Singapore”:
I sure do!

30 Jack April 24, 2017 at 9:52 am

Well, you certainly get your money’s worth in this article — travelogue, global warming, engineering, interviews with random people, lives of the rich and famous at the Marina Sands rooftop pool, some insight into how business is really done — sellers get “tired” of supplying buyers. I could go on and on — just like Ms. Subramanian did.

31 Axa April 24, 2017 at 10:08 am

Rooms starting at $400 a night…….US people have a funny definition of rich and famous.

32 Thiago Ribeiro April 24, 2017 at 10:06 am

And yet Brazil has much more sand than Singapore, with all its trillions, will ever have.

33 msgkings April 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Just the sand in Brazilians’ heads is enough to overwhelm Singapore’s portion.

34 Thiago Ribeiro April 24, 2017 at 3:31 pm

No, it is not, there is no sand in our heads, but our country is rich in sand and all other amazing natural resources.

35 msgkings April 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Yes, it is, there is lots of sand in your heads, and your country is poor in all other natural resources, both amazing and the other kind.

36 Thiago Ribeiro April 24, 2017 at 5:03 pm

No, there are lots of sand at the beaches. The state where I was boen is known all aroumd the world for the healing properties of its sand. Brazil is bigger than the Roman Empire at its height. It is one of the richest biodiversities in the world. It ia the home of rain forests, jungles, fields pampas) and tropical forests. Darwin was impressed by Brazilian animals, trees and by the generosity of the Brazilian people.

37 Prophet Bandarra April 24, 2017 at 5:06 pm

When the desperate, impoverished, violent masses of Brazilians rise up to defeat their savage oppressors, the world will rejoice and a new era of peace shall begin.

38 Thiago Ribeiro April 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm

No, the masses won’t rise up, they are pretty well-treated in Brazil. Our nation is a just one and all her ways are peace.

39 Chip April 24, 2017 at 10:06 am

Singapore has been using sand to reclaim land for decades and it has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with expanding population and economic activity.

The reporter apparently couldn’t spare a dozen words to note that the IPCC prediction of accelersting sea level rise has failed to materialize. Instead it rises at the same slow and steady rate it has for centuries.

His lament at the ravages of the Anthropocene is also silly. Who looks at the modern world today – largely driven by cheap and plentiful energy – and believes us to be worse off than we were pre-1900?


40 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 2:05 am

I see. So now that it’s established even among deniers that it’s been rising, this is old news and not very interesting.

In the case that you are not a paid propagandist, I recommend to learn about tobacco corporation manipulations to prevent people from knowing that tobacco causes cancer. Keep on learning until you understand why I brought it up. (If you are paid, you will know what I mean in a second.)

41 Scoop April 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

I’d like to use this Singapore post to request that Tyler write about why there is literally zero push for Republicans to pass something like Singapore’s health system.

42 Moo cow April 24, 2017 at 1:13 pm


43 Dzhaughn April 24, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Ross Douthat has already covered that question this year.

44 Jan April 25, 2017 at 5:31 am

In short, Singapore is government tyranny.

45 Alex April 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

seasteading for real

46 Butler Reynolds April 24, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Better safe than sorry, I guess. If the climate doesn’t change like Al Gore predicted, then at least Singapore is prepared for a visit by Catzilla.

47 Troll Me April 26, 2017 at 2:07 am

Why don’t you look to scientists instead of politicians for expertise and authority on questions relating to science?

48 April 24, 2017 at 10:06 pm

“””Rank Country Natural Sand Exports in 2015 (USD)

1 United States $385,588,000

2 Netherlands $182,758,000″””

Netherlands exports sand? I thought they need it themselves. Brazil is not in the top 20.

Apparently dessert sands are too smooth and not suitable for structural uses. Australia exports sands to Middle East.

49 Dan Lavatan-Jeltz April 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Most counties have strategic sand reserves in case it snows. I guess they are set either way. Could work out very well, I heard there may be a sand shortage for microprocessors.

50 Ricky Tylor April 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Strategy and right mindset are absolutely necessary when we talk about any business. As a trader, I always work with good strategy which is simple yet straight forward, as I know if there is anything that can really help me up, it is working through right strategy and method. I feel extremely good and comfortable with broker like OctaFX who supports me perfectly. This is all because of been licensed by FCA and also being a true ECN for which they won award as well!

51 mkt42 April 28, 2017 at 2:57 am

Coincidentally, Timothy Taylor made an observation about the market for sand: fracking drove its demand and price way way up.

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