Best of our wild blogs: 16 Oct 18

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Management Assistant Officer, Visitor Services/Casual Visitor Services Officer
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

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World's largest rice science conference opens in Singapore, to discuss challenges facing rice production

Jose Hong Straits Times 15 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - The production of rice, one of the world’s most important crops, is facing major problems, such as slow growth and climate change, which could increase its price by more than 30 per cent by 2050.

“We need major changes to our rice and food production systems, to make them more resilient to weather disruptions, and also to reduce their emissions and their impact on the environment,” said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Monday (Oct 15).

Speaking at the opening of the International Rice Congress, Mr Wong said that although Singapore is a rice consumer instead of a producer, the country has turned its limited land space to its advantage by experimenting with more productive farming methods.

“After all, necessity is the mother of invention,” said Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance, citing examples of urban farming that produce more rice with less land.

The congress, also called the “Olympics of Rice Science”, is the world’s largest scientific conference on rice. It is held every four years, and is in Singapore for the first time.

This year’s conference, organised by the International Rice Research Institute (Irri) and Agri-food and Veterinary Authority, brings together 1,500 participants from 40 countries including scientists, government officials and representatives from international organisations like the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Among the announcements on Monday was a four-year partnership between Irri and Corteva Agriscience, the agricultural arm of chemical giant DowDuPont, which aims to improve global rice production and quality.

According to the two bodies, rice production needs to dramatically increase by 25 per cent over the next 25 years to meet the growing demands of the world’s population.

Both organisations will draw on each other’s scientific strengths to breed rice that will overcome looming challenges of climate change and decreased rice productivity.

Corteva, for instance, has access to seven million farmers throughout South and South-east Asia through its educational and outreach programmes, while Irri has expertise in rice genetics.

Mr Peter Ford, president of Corteva Agriscience (Asia-Pacific), said: “Our shared goal for this partnership is to help rice farmers to become more productive and sustainable.”

Irri director-general Matthew Morell said Singapore’s importance to international trade made it a natural choice for this year’s conference: “While agriculture plays a limited role in the economy of Singapore, the country is a significant logistics and shipping hub for rice trade. In addition, its robust financial market and reputation for regulatory rigour position it as an ideal location for a rice futures market that can help ensure the availability and affordability of rice worldwide.

“The International Rice Congress 2018 in Singapore provides a springboard for meaningful discussions on the policies, innovations and partnerships that can drive the growth of an equitable global rice sector.”

Ms Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said: “The world is changing rapidly, and the future world rice economy will look much different than it does today.

“Diets are changing towards fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, although rice will remain the foundation of Asian diets, especially for the poor.”

Mr Wong said that everyone needs to come together to overcome the vast challenges facing rice’s future.

“Agriculture can and must be part of the solution to tackling climate change. We must intensify our research, enterprise and collaboration efforts to transform rice and agricultural production methods,” he said.

The congress, held at Marina Bay Sands, runs until Wednesday.

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Indonesia: Floods affect 24,321 people in Aceh Singkil District

Antara 15 Oct 18;

Illustration. Farmers are drying the rice which is submerged by floods in the rice field area of Blang Leuah Village, Samatiga District, West Aceh, Aceh, Saturday (10/13/2018). (ANTARA PHOTO/Syifa Yulinnas/aww.)

Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA News) - The Aceh Singkil Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) reported that the floods that inundated 24 villages in the eight sub-districts of Aceh Singkil Districts, Aceh Province, affected 24,321 people.

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Protecting nature the best way to keep planet cool: report

Marlowe HOOD AFP Yahoo News 15 Oct 18;

Paris (AFP) - The best -- and fairest -- way to cap global warming is to empower indigenous forest peoples, reduce food waste and slash meat consumption, an alliance of 38 NGOs said Monday.

Restoring natural forest ecosystems, securing the land rights of local communities and revamping the global food system could cut greenhouse emissions 40 percent by mid-century and help humanity avoid climate catastrophe, they argued in a 50-page report based on recent science.

Approximately half of the reduced emissions would come from boosting the capacity of forests and wetlands to absorb CO2, and the other half from curtailing carbon-intensive forms of agriculture.

On current trends, Earth is on track to warm up an unlivable three or four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, far about the 1.5C climate-safe threshold endorsed last week by the UN in a major climate change assessment.

In the wake of the UN report, two starkly different visions are emerging on how to beat back the existential threat of global warming.

One calls for geoengineering and the aggressive use of technology to draw excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, especially by burning biofuels and capturing the emitted CO2, a process known by its acronym, BECCS.

The other, favoured in the new "Missing Pathways to 1.5C" report, is based primarily on Earth's natural capacity to absorb CO2.

- Protecting the forests -

"This is a pragmatic blueprint for tackling the climate crisis while respecting human rights and protecting biodiversity," said Kelsey Perlman, forest and climate campaigner at UK-based NGO Fern.

"Decision makers must abandon their faith in unproven technological solutions and put restoring and protecting forests at the centre of climate strategy."

But how to do that remains a challenge: More than two decades of UN-led efforts to curb deforestation have largely failed, with the planet still losing a wooded area the size of Greece every year.

Deforestation -- responsible for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions -- intensifies global warming in two ways, reducing Earth's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, and releasing huge amounts of the planet-warming gas into the air.

The report highlights research showing that native forest communities should play a key role.

"People who live in, and with, forests protect those lands," lead author Kate Dooley, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne, told AFP. "Recognising this is the greatest forest conservation success story in the last decade."

"We have to give these peoples not just land rights, but the resources to protect those lands," she added.

The report also tackles head-on the political hot potato of how to change human behaviour in ways that will reduce our carbon footprint -- cutting back on travel, using public transportation, switching to electric vehicles.

- Too much beef -

But it is revamping our diets that would have the biggest impact of all.

"Even bigger emissions can come from producing and consuming less meat," especially beef, said Teresa Anderson, climate change policy officer for ActionAid International.

A study published in Nature last week calculated that rich nations would have to eat 90 percent less meat by 2050 to sustainably accomodate a projected global population of 10 billion people.

The report notes that only six countries -- the United States, Brazil, China, Canada, Argentina, Australia -- and the European Union produce and export the lion's share of beef, chicken and pork worldwide.

Livestock farming poses a double climate threat, driving the loss of forests to make way for grazing land and generating huge amounts of methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2.

Reducing food waste -- estimated at more than 30 percent worldwide -- by half could cut CO2 pollution by half-a-billion tonnes, more than one percent of total emissions. It could also help feed some of the billion people who go to bed hungry every night, the report notes.

But hitting that target remains a deceptively difficult, especially in the developing world, experts say.

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 Oct 18

Our Crazy Rich Shores: Pulau Sekudu
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

4th November 2018 (Sunday): Herp Walk @ Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Herpetological Society of Singapore

16 Oct: Connecting the Dots between Haze and Palm Oil
Green Drinks Singapore

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Keeping Pulau Ubin alive

More needs to be done to ensure Singapore's last remaining offshore community - Ubin - goes on as a living kampung
Kok Yufeng The New Paper 15 Oct 18;

In 2014, the Ministry of National Development (MND) launched The Ubin Project to preserve the 10.2 sq km island's cultural and natural heritage and sustain its unique identity.

For the islanders though, Ubin's charms mask challenges.

Village chief Chu Yok Choon, 73, told The New Paper in Mandarin that while it would be best if the island was preserved, it does not take away the fact that daily life can be tough.

He said: "On this island, to get anything we want is difficult."

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Malaysia: Our rivers not healthy and need serious attention - Minister

vijenthi nair The Star 15 Oct 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Rivers in three states are the most affected by the effects of deforestation and opening up of new logging areas, says Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.

The Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister said the three states were Kelantan, Pahang and Kedah.

“The failure to have a proper integrated system for forest management has serious effects on rivers.

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Indonesia: Floods submerge 1,070 houses in Bengkalis, Riau

Antara 15 Oct 18;

Flooding in Riau - documentary photo. (ANTARA FOTO/Pandu Hari Santoso)

Bengkalis, Riau (ANTARA News)- Floods triggered by incessant heavy rains, have submerged 1,070 houses in Bantan and Bengkalis sub-districts, Bengkalis district, Riau Province, Sumatra Island.

In Bantan, some 360 homes were inundated, Jamaluddin, secretary of the Bengkalis disaster mitigation office, said here, Sunday.

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Indonesia: World Bank to provide US$1 billion for Lombok, Palu reconstruction

Antara 15 Oct 18;

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva while visiting earthquake-hit Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Oct 12, 2018. (M Arief Iskandar)

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - The World Bank is committed to providing US$1 billion for the reconstruction of demaged facilities in the earthqauake-affected Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara/NTB) and Palu (Central Sulawesi).

"The government`s efforts to restore affected areas have been very good. We provide this assistance to give support needed by Indonesia," said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday.

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Malaysia: Import quota needed on plastic waste, says MPMA

rashvinjeet s. bedi The Star 14 Oct 18;

PETALING JAYA: The government should set a quota on how much plastic waste can be imported into the country, says the Malaysian Manufacturers Plastic Association (MPMA).

MPMA recycling sub-committee chairman C.C. Cheah said that the local industry only needed sufficient imports that it could handle.

“We don't want to import the whole world's waste…We do not want limitless imports,” he told The Star Online in an interview.

In July, the Housing and Local Government Ministry revoked the Approved Permits (APs) for plastic waste imports, affecting 114 legal plastic waste factories nationwide for three months until Oct 23.

Cheah said that they agreed with the ban, although some legit local recycling operators faced a shortage of materials, affecting their operations.

“We regret that but unfortunately, it has to happen to protect the sustainability of the industry," he said.

“The plastic recycling industry should be allowed to go about in its activities provided that it is regulated,” added Cheah.

China banned plastic waste imports in 2018, leading to a huge impact on the global recycling system.

As a result, the waste from countries such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand was offloaded to places such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to official statistics, the amount of plastic waste imported into the Malaysia almost doubled from RM274mil in 2016 to RM490mil in 2017.

Only those with APs can import plastic waste, but according to Cheah, there was a possibility that some operators sold the waste they imported to illegal ones.

The government has now made it compulsory for those wanting to import waste to get the ISO 14000 certification by June 2019.

The ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organisations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.

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Humanitarians see surge in climate-related disasters

Nina LARSON, AFP Yahoo News 12 Oct 18;

Geneva (AFP) - The number of climate-related disasters around the world is growing rapidly, humanitarians warned Friday, urging more efforts to prepare and build resilience to looming changes on a warming planet.

Climate shocks are already driving displacement, causing many to go hungry and are sparking or exacerbating conflicts around the globe, humanitarian workers said, cautioning that the situation is quickly deteriorating.

"With climate change, the shocks and hazards are multiplying," Elhadj As Sy, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told AFP in an interview.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Geneva on the impact of climate change on humanitarian situations around the globe, he cautioned that such "shocks" were "getting more frequent and more severe."

Friday's conference was aimed at unpacking the humanitarian implications of the findings in a landmark UN climate report this week, which warned drastic action was needed to prevent Earth from hurtling towards an unbearable rise in temperature.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) said the globe's surface has already warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) -- enough to lift oceans and unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, floods and droughts -- and is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise.

- 'Pressure cooker' -

Gernot Laganda, who heads the World Food Programme's climate and disaster risk reduction division, pointed out that climate shocks are already "significant drivers of displacement", forcing 22.5 million people to leave their homes each year.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, he also decried the "increasingly distractive interplay between conflict and climate disasters."

He pointed out that the world's 10 most conflict-affected countries, including Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are also impacted by extreme weather events, creating a so-called "pressure-cooker" effect.

Laganda pointed to projections that if the planet warms just 2C, 189 million more people than today will become food insecure.

"And if it is a four-degree warmer world ... we're looking beyond one billion more," he said, adding that this "is a very, very strong argument for early and decisive climate action."

Sy meanwhile said humanitarians had already seen a dramatic increase in climate and weather-related crises.

"In the 1970s, we used to be dealing with 80 to 100 severe weather-related shocks and hazards" each year, he said, contrasting that to last year, when the number was around 400 -- "four times more."

While acknowledging that climate-related shocks would likely keep climbing, Sy emphasised that it was not inevitable that such shocks and hazards should "become a disaster."

"We need to be better prepared with early warning and with early alert," he said, also stressing the importance for IFRC of continuously having volunteers on the ground in affected communities to help them to adapt to climate change.

The organisation counts some 70 million volunteers around the world, so when climate-linked shocks and hazards hit, they "find us already there," he said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 13 Oct 18

The Singapore Blue Plan 2018 is launched
Singapore Blue Plan 2018

Nov 2018 sampling events for NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme – 2nd last sampling @ Lim Chu Kang mangrove!
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Kusu Island pilgrimage 9 Oct to 7 Nov 2018
wild shores of singapore

Not the Right Cull – Monkey Culling vs Monkey Guarding
BES Drongos

‘Two-Face’: giant clams can be badass too!
Mei Lin NEO

Butterfly of the Month - October 2018
Butterflies of Singapore

Late Morning Walk At Chestnut Nature Park (06 Oct 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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