Best of our wild blogs: 29 Mar 11

St John's shore with TJC students
from wonderful creation

Berry fruity CCNR
from Urban Forest

Can you resist these faces?
from Life's Indulgences

Is a Harvestman a Spider?
from Macro Photography in Singapore

三月华语导游 Mandarin guide walk@SBWR, March (XVII)
from PurpleMangrove

Dredging right next to Cyrene Reef until Jun 2011
from wild shores of singapore

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Drivers, beware that wild boar on NTU roads

Goh Kai Shi & Lim Yi Han Straits Times 29 Mar 11;

WILD boar are a common sight at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). As are snakes - and even endangered pangolins.

Hostel residents often come upon these wild animals roaming free and unmolested on the sprawling grounds of the university in Jurong.

So much so that NTU has recently put up signs warning drivers to be wary of animals crossing the street within the campus' network of roads.

At least two 'Caution! Animals Crossing' signs have been put up - both of them at the Jalan Bahar side entrance, where sightings are most common.

Mr Chan Keng Luck, acting chief building and infrastructure officer at NTU, said: 'As the greenest campus in Singapore, NTU is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. These signs are meant to alert road users to be careful.'

To wildlife enthusiast Ben Lee, 49, the signs are a necessity. He remembers picking up a dead pangolin from Jalan Bahar in 2008 to prevent it from being repeatedly run over. The pangolin is classified as a critically endangered animal in Singapore.

Mr Lee, who founded Nature Trekker Singapore - a non-profit nature organisation - in 2000, would like to see more of such signs around urban Singapore.

'These signs will go some way towards ensuring that future generations will get to see endangered animals like the pangolin,' he said.

Student hostelites along Nanyang Crescent said they have seen small herds of three or four wild boars from their windows.

The animals have even become something of a draw. University shuttle buses have stopped for those on board to admire them, said mari-time studies student Zhang Tianzhe, 22.

Ms Charmaine Yip, 20, an exchange student from Canada who has been at the hostel for three months, has had several sightings.

'The first time I saw them I was quite scared, but after that, I realised they are quite harmless,' she said.

School of Biological Sciences student Corinna Tan, 23, agreed: 'The wild boars seem quite docile and I don't think they pose any threat to us.'

'Wild boars are generally docile by nature, but can become aggressive when they are cornered,' said Mr Tony O'Dempsey, chairman of the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society Singapore.

'The best thing to do when you come face-to-face with them is to avoid them, as with all wild animals,' he added.

It is not too much to ask of wildlife-loving NTU students.

Protect NTU students from roaming wildlife
Straits Times 31 Mar 11;

TUESDAY'S article ('Drivers, beware that wild boar on NTU roads') mentioned sightings of wildlife such as snakes and pangolins at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

NTU said signs were put up to warn drivers to be wary of animals crossing the street. However, I am more concerned about the safety of students who are staying in hostels located close to the forested areas. It can be dangerous if snakes or wild boars wander into the residential areas and attack them.

Frederick Ow

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Malaysia: Hawksbill sea turtle hatching success

The Star 29 Mar 11;

MALACCA has successfully managed to hatch an estimated 23,677 hawksbill eggs at the turtle hatchery and management centre in Padang Kemunting, Masjid Tanah near here in 2010.

Chairman of the State Industry, Commerce and Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Committee chairman Datuk Md Yunos Husin said the total eggs hatched last year was equivalent to 48.82% of the 48,503 eggs incubated at the centre while 137,097 turtle eggs were hatched for a five -year period.

“This totals to 56% of 242,992 eggs incubated at the centre since 2006“, he said after launching the agro-based entrepreneurs carnival at the Malacca International Trade Centre at Ayer Keroh, here. Md Yunos said that 2,031 hawksbill turtles landed on Malacca’s beaches since 2006.

He said the centre, established in 1997, also recorded 50 turtle deaths along the Malacca coastlines, where many of these reptiles werecaught mostly in fishing nets.

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Philippines forest turtle: pet trade demand surged when it was rediscovered

Local forest turtle getting extinct
Ellalyn B. De Vera Manila Bulletin 28 Mar 11;

MANILA, Philippines -- No wonder Pong Pagong is rarely seen these days.

The Philippine Forest Turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis), commonly found in Palawan, is now among the 25 endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles in the world, with an extremely high risk of getting extinct, international experts said.

A new report from the Turtle Conservation Coalition, a global alliance of conservation groups, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission's Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) has named the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles, which includes the Philippine Forest Turtle.

This is the third Top 25 listing of most endangered species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, which is in addition to the earlier listed species that are also at very high risk of extinction, according to Turtle Conservation Coalition.

As cited in the 58-page report, the Philippine Forest Turtle’s habitat is being threatened by slash-and-bur n farming practices, logging, agricultural encroachment, and associated habitat degradation, among others.

“Yet, the biggest threat to the Philippine Forest Turtle is its perceived rarity. The demand in the international pet trade surged when it was rediscovered,” it said.

“Sadly, it continues to be illegally exported from the Philippines in significant numbers, although the species is protected both locally under Philippine law, and its trade regulated internationally by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species),” it added.

However, the illegal trade of endangered forest turtles remains rampant with the series of confiscations locally and internationally.

“Additionally, evidence suggests that some populations of this species have declined in the recent past and that no adults larger than 30 centimeter in carapace length and no hatchlings can be found in some localities,” the report pointed out.

Scientists used to believe that the turtle thrives in Leyte where it was first discovered, however recent studies pointed out that the turtle may be found in Palawan.

“Today, all evidence suggests that the original description of this species (Siebenrockiella leytensis) as occurring in Leyte was erroneous, although it is possible that early traders had transported some to Leyte and sold them in the market where they were first discovered,” it pointed out.

Very little is known about the Philippine Forest Turtle, aside from it inhabits in creeks and small rivers with full canopy and is “crepuscular or nocturnal, hiding during the day under the rocks or in deep earthen burrows or natural limestone caves.”

The Turtle Conservation Coalition expressed alarm that even before the species can be studied further, it may become extinct, if it would not be protected.

“Effective conservation actions for this species will require greater knowledge of the species' natural history,” it said.

It also cited the importance of "community-based conservation programs need to be continued to provide effective long-term in-situ protection of the remaining population and their habitats."

In addition, the report highlighted that turtles in Asia have greatly suffered from decades of illegal and unsustainable trade, with 17 of the 25 most endangered turtles being found in Asia.

It noted that without turtles and tortoises the ecosystem and critically-important services to mankind and people's livelihoods would gradually suffer from the loss of biodiversity.

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Thousands of toads killed in annual Australian hunt

Yahoo News 28 Mar 11;

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia's annual cane toad cull was Monday declared a success by organisers who said that more than 14,000 of the noxious pests had perished as a result.

North Queensland's "Toad Day Out" saw volunteers in Townsville, Charters Towers and Cairns collect the pests in plastic bags on Saturday night, and bring them unharmed to designated areas to be euthanised.

"When we were kids we always got in trouble for something, but we never ever got in trouble for belting a cane toad -- we always felt we were doing society a favour," explained local MP Shane Knuth.

"But this is a completely different way of eliminating the cane toad."

The animals are gassed in their bags and their bodies sold for skins or to make fertiliser, or used for university research, added Knuth, one of the founders of the event which is now in its third year.

The cane toad, which carries a poisonous sac of venom on the back of its head toxic enough to kill snakes and crocodiles, is regarded as a pest in Australia because it wreaks havoc on the environment.

Knuth said by taking thousands of the prolific breeders out of the environment, Toad Day Out had prevented millions of toad births.

The Queensland politician, who lost a dog to a cane toad, said the biggest animal captured this year weighed about 500 grams (1.1 pounds) -- well above the average weight of 80 grams.

Recent floods in Queensland have apparently boosted cane toad numbers, with Townsville locals saying a single street light attracted up to 50 of the nocturnal creatures.

"It was shocking, like, just driving up to the street lights, the first one and just seeing how many were crowded round there," sixteen-year-old Townsville local Ryan Rains told ABC Radio.

The number of cane toads across Australia is estimated to have ballooned to more than 200 million since being introduced from Brazil in the 1930s to control scarab beetles infesting the country's sugar cane.

Previous cane toad elimination techniques have included driving cars over them and smashing them with cricket bats.

"If you talk to anybody, the young, the old, they will all have something in common: nobody likes the cane toad, there is nothing great about them," Knuth said.

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Blocking Ship-Borne Bioinvaders Before They Dock

ScienceDaily 25 Mar 11;

The global economy depends on marine transportation. But in addition to cargo, the world's 50,000-plus commercial ships carry tiny stowaways that can cause huge problems for the environment and economy. A new model created by Smithsonian scientists will facilitate accurate screening of vessels for dangerous species before they unload. The team's findings are published March 28 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Ballast water taken up by ships in coastal waters teems with plankton and microbes. When discharged at the next port of call, these hitchhikers can wreak havoc on receiving ecosystems. Under current federal regulations, ships exchange their ballast water in the open ocean to flush out unwanted species. However, some survive the process, and not all ships travel across oceans. Environmental regulators have known about this problem for decades. But while regulators check ship records and can sometimes test salinity to verify compliance, unlike many pollutants, there are no federal requirements limiting the number of viable, potentially dangerous organisms.

That is about to change. The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed a new set of rules limiting the number of organisms allowed, in line with current International Maritime Organization standards. For larger zooplankton (length, width or height at least 50 microns, or one-half the thickness of a piece of paper), the number must be fewer than 10 viable organisms per cubic meter (264 gallons). On-board ballast water treatment technologies offer a promising solution, enabling ships to substantially cut the risk of delivering dangerous species. But while a few systems have entered the market, the challenge of testing the ballast water -- and the technology -- remains. A major stumbling block is simply understanding how such testing should occur and how much ballast water must be tested in order to count very sparse numbers of organisms.

To help regulators and engineers develop and test such treatment systems, and ultimately enforce these standards, a team of researchers developed a statistical model to see how to count small, scarce organisms in large volumes of water accurately. Led by Whitman Miller, research ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the scientists took samples that exceeded the limit and ran them through various tests to see which violations would be spotted. Larger samples gave the best results: sampling only 0.1 cubic meter of water (26.4 gallons) made it difficult to detect concentrations even twice as high as the standard. By contrast, when they raised the volume to 7 cubic meters (1848 gallons), the test regularly picked up violations as low as 13 zooplankton per cubic meter.

Another innovation of the model is that it can pool sample results over time and possibly across ships, making it easier to determine if treatment systems function as advertised and thus whether ships are actually compliant or not. Since analyzing samples larger than 7 cubic meters is difficult for most cargo ships, by taking multiple 7-cubic-meter samples, regulators could effectively raise the volume without overburdening the ships.

"When trying to decide how to evaluate a treatment system, we need to balance scientific rigor with what is logistically feasible," said Miller. "Science can help inform regulatory efforts. However, in the end, it is necessary for regulators to determine the level of environmental protection that is acceptable in accordance with both scientific evidence and the needs and desires of society."

"The findings of this study will greatly assist the Coast Guard to develop and implement effective and economical procedures for approving treatment equipment and verifying compliance by ships in meeting discharge standards to minimize the risk of introducing potentially harmful organisms to U.S. aquatic ecosystems," said Richard Everett, an environmental scientist with the Coast Guard's Environmental Standards Division.

The Coast Guard proposal would require most ships arriving in U.S. waters to have ballast water-treatment systems that dramatically reduce the number of living organisms in their discharge. Under the proposed regulation, most existing ships would have until 2014 or 2016 to comply, but any ships built after Jan. 1, 2012, would need to comply immediately. The agency estimated in 2009 that the new regulation could cost as much as $168 million a year, largely for ships to install the new technologies necessary to comply. However, in terms of economic and environmental damage avoided, it could save anywhere from $165 to $585 million a year.

The Coast Guard is also considering implementing a second phase of regulations, which would be up to a thousand times more stringent than the International Maritime Organization standards, perhaps beginning in 2016, but subject to an assessment of practicability.

Journal Reference:

A. Whitman Miller, Melanie Frazier, George E. Smith, Elgin S. Perry, Gregory M. Ruiz, Mario N. Tamburri. Enumerating Sparse Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water: Why Counting to 10 Is Not So Easy. Environmental Science & Technology, 2011; : 110324163436083 DOI: 10.1021/es102790d

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Latin American fisheries gain from Japan disaster

UPI 28 Mar 11;

BUENOS AIRES, March 28 (UPI) -- Latin American fisheries are set to benefit from the misfortunes of Japanese marine food industries in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, fisheries data indicated.

Argentine fisheries' response to Japan's troubles isn't yet clear but the decimation of Japanese fishing operations in regions worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami has pushed Chile's coho salmon producers in the forefront.

At least one-fifth of the salmon industry in Japan's worst-hit areas is either at a standstill or has been destroyed. Key fishing ports in at least six coastal provinces are shut, awaiting massive reconstruction.

This has created opportunities for Latin American fishing industries, the data indicated.

Chile is one of the world's largest salmon exporters but also is one the few countries outside Japan that produce and distribute coho salmon, the Pacific salmon known in North America as silver salmon.

Coho salmon breeds and thrives in salt water and is in great demand in Japan as well as along Latin America's Pacific coast.

Chilean fishing industry officials said Japanese consumers would likely turn to Chile to make up for their losses.

Japan produced 30,000 tons of the salmon last year but couldn't prevent a shortfall due to high demand. Of about 83,000 tons of salmon and 61 tons of trout exported by Chile in 2001, Japan received about 83 percent.

The current coho salmon season began in September and comes to a close this month.

Chilean fishing industry sources couldn't say if Japan would rely on frozen stocks or begin to order more from Chile in the near future.

The coho salmon prices were already on the rise before the catastrophic impact of the tsunami on Japan's coastal fishing industries.

"The Chilean industry is still unsure if Japan will wait till 2012 to begin importing," said The Santiago Times.

The industry also estimates a rise in salmon prices, which had begun this year before Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

Japan is also likely to increase trout imports from Latin America, the sources said.

Meanwhile, East Asian consumption of reef fish like snapper is creating a new conservation crisis in the Asia Pacific region that was highlighted at a meeting in Bali, Indonesia, earlier in March.

Experts said fishing crews were using cyanide and explosives to increases their catches way beyond the ocean's capacity, reducing prospects for the renewable resource.

Experts saw the largest threat in the Coral Triangle, a marine region that includes the waters of six nations between the Indian and Pacific oceans -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands -- and contains 37 percent of the world's reef fish species.

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Indonesia Population Explosion Bad For Environment

Bernama 28 Mar 11;

BATAM, Indonesia, March 28 (Bernama) -- Uncontrollable population explosion will have a negative impact on the environment, Head of National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) Sugiri Syarief said here on Monday.

"Demographers and environmentalists often use the term ecological suicide to link population explosion to the environmental problems," Sugiri Syarief was quoted by Antara news agency as saying after opening a consultation forum on 2011 All Indonesia Population and Family Planning Programmes.

He explained that a total population of 237.6 million people in Indonesia at present has caused a lot of problems related to garbage, flood, and even traffic jam.

"Not to mention the difficulty of access to clean water, air, and other climate change issues. Then we can imagine what happens if the population continues to grow to reach 500 million people," Sugiri said.

He said it was possible for the population to grow if the government failed to suppress the rate of population increase.

"In the past ten years the the population has increased by 1.49 percent to 32.7 million to be equal to the number of population in Canada and more than that of Malaysia," he said.

Sugiri added that if the population growth remained at 1.49 percent then it was predicted that in 2045 the population would reach 450 million people.


Population explosion bad for environment
Antara 28 Mar 11;

Batam, Riau Islands Province (ANTARA News) - Uncontrollable population explosion will have a negative impact on the environment, Head of National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) Sugiri Syarief said here on Monday.

"Demographers and environmentalists often use the term ecological suicide to link population explosion to the environmental problems," Sugiri Syarief said after opening a consultation forum on 2011 All Indonesia Population and Family Planning Programs.

He explained that a total population of 237.6 million people in Indonesia at present has caused a lot of problems related to garbage, flood, and even traffic jam.

"Not to mention the difficulty of access to clean water, air, and other climate change issues. Then we can imagine what happens if the population continues to grow to reach 500 million people," Sugiri said.

He said it was possible for the population to grow if the government failed to suppress the rate of population increase.

"In the past ten years the the population has increased by 1.49 percent to 32.7 million to be equal to the number of population in Canada and more than that of Malaysia," he said.

Sugiri added that if the population growth remained at 1.49 percent then it was predicted that in 2045 the population would reach 450 million people.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Serious population boom threatens Indonesia
Antara 28 Mar 11;

Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - The National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) stated that the uncontrolled population boom could pose a serious threat to Indonesia due to its negative impacts on various sectors.

"The uncontrollable population growth can pose a serious threat and the outcome of an Indonesian population census in 2010 has clearly shown the signs of a population explosion," Head of the Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) Sugiri Syarief said here on Monday.

Sugiri Syarief made the statement after opening the 2011 Indonesian Population and Family Planning Consultation Programs here.

Sugiri said that the population boom might occur in Indonesia unless immediate efforts were made to suppress the population growth rate.

The recent Indonesian population growth reached 237.6 million with a growth rate of 1.49 percent.

"The number had also caused many problems in residential areas such as trash, flooding and traffic congestion not to mention the difficulty of access to clean water, air and climate change issues," he said.

According to Sugiri, the problem could become more complicated with the population boom.

"You can imagine what will happen if the population continues to grow and approach 500 million," he said.

He said that such situation might become a reality if the government did not suppress the population growth rate.

"Over the last ten years the population has increased to 32.7 million and an average growth of 1.49 percent, like in Canada and more than the population of Malaysia," he said.

If the population growth rate remains at 1.49 percent it can be predicted that by 2045 the population reached 450 million.

"At that time the world population is projected to be nine billion people whereas one in every 20 people in the world is Indonesian," he said.

It was necessary to suppress the population growth rate so as not to adversely affect the environment and revenue increase, he said.

"The high number of children will reduce the ability of human capital investment in the family, which will affect education and public health," he said.

On the other hand, a large population with low human resources would destroy the the quality of natural resources, he said. (*)


Editor: Jafar M Sidik

Family Planning Board Meets With Indonesian Population Set to Soar
Jakarta Globe 28 Mar 11;

Batam, Riau Islands. With Indonesia’s population projected to double to 450 million by 2045, the National Family Planning Coordinating Board held a national meeting here on Monday to discuss its programs for 2011.

Sugiri Syarief, chairman of the board, also known as the (BKKBN), said it was hoped it would be able to complete a master plan to revitalize the family planning program to keep the population in check.

Quoting the results of the 2010 census, Sugiri recently said that if no effort was made to “curb population growth we will face a population boom in the next few years.”

He said by 2045, the population could hit 450 million, meaning that one of every 20 people in the world would be Indonesian.

Family planning efforts are widely regarded as having deteriorated since the downfall of former dictator Suharto.

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'Plenty of water, if we're smart about it'

Cheong Suk-Wai Straits Times 29 Mar 11;

HARVARD don Peter Rogers has carved a career out of studying how to manage water efficiently, but even he had something to learn from a 77-year-old cowboy - Stetson and all - on a bus ride in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Professor Rogers, 73, recalls: 'He and his wife run a seven acre farm there. We chatted and I suddenly discovered that he knew more about water and agriculture than I would ever know.'

Among other things, the cowboy told Prof Rogers how he used a strategic yet cheap irrigation system of 'centre pivots' to double his crop yield while halving his water use. This irrigation system consists of a series of overhead sprinklers which are spaced out such that the water is used optimally.

Prof Rogers believes that centre pivots are the ticket to minimising water wastage in farming today - which is saying a lot because, for more than 40 years, he has studied how to reduce water wastage in more than 30 countries, including China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. An alumnus of the University of Liverpool, Northwestern University and Harvard, he is now the latter's Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering, and also teaches city planning.

The married father of four is here till May to put together a water security programme for Asia at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Global Asia Institute.

I caught up with him earlier this month to ask him why he says the world is running out of water:

What is foremost in your mind about water security today?

Singapore has done a terrific job of ensuring its water supply for the next 50 years at least. Some may say it's excessive concern because it's a political, not economic, decision. Everything has been carefully thought out, from the collection of drain water to the closing of estuaries. Contrast that with places like Orange County, California, which also had to recycle wastewater (but resisted doing so for 15 years because they were very conservative about such things).

Also, environmental groups have been pressuring the county not to dump its treated waste water into the ocean because most of the effluents (remain in such treated water)... So somebody said, 'Why don't we treat this waste water a third time and then (subject it) to reverse osmosis so that we can recycle the water?' That was a stroke of genius; you now don't have to dump effluents into the ocean and desalinating wastewater is a lot cheaper than desalinating ocean water because the concentration of salts in wastewater is lower.

So why has it taken this long for reverse osmosis to catch on?

That's a great question. The answer is that reverse osmosis used to be very expensive (partly) because there were no economies of scale in using it. But its cost has now plummeted from US$5 a cubic metre to 49 US cents (62 Singapore cents) a cubic metre, because chemical engineers have found a cheaper way to fabricate the membranes for treating water by reverse osmosis.

So there's no excuse not to recycle wastewater today?

Right now, you'd have to spend 40 per cent of your desalination costs on energy to desalinate wastewater. And you've seen that in Japan, they need huge amounts of water to try and cool down the nuclear reactors. Generating electricity requires lots of water (so) when economies expand, the demand for water will soar markedly. But if we can solve the energy problem, we can solve the water problem.

There seems a lot of hope in that.

What's missing is that big leap, when one can say, 'Well, we may not have to do all that if we could do something else!' For instance, in California's Imperial Valley, there are 500 farms that actually waste more water than all that is used by the entire city of New York each year. (Yet) since the early 1960s, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming have been using centre pivots to put water where you need it. These pivots are now run by laptop computers so that instead of growing the same crops each year, you can grow many different crops - and the computer tells you how much water you need for this crop, how much fertiliser to mix in with the water. It's amazing and it's cheap. Can Asia feed itself? The answer is clearly yes.

Is it then just a case of educating and enabling farmers?

No. It's an organisational problem. Farmers are very smart people and they're doing the best they can. What they need is some way of organising themselves socially so that, say, 200 farmers get one of these (irrigation systems). You're going to need government intervention, but also private sector (help).

How might the private sector help city dwellers too?

For the past 15 years, the biggest issue about municipal water supply has been the privatisation of water. In fact, NUS' Water Policy Institute has just done a research project on that, and there are a lot of arguments about how people should not make money out of people's drinking water. The other argument is that you get much more efficient use of water if people paid for it, and private industries are better organised and so could do a better job of (managing water supply). But it's interesting that the best-run municipality in the world is Singapore, which is government-run. Another city that is doing very well is Phnom Penh in Cambodia, which has (Mr) Ek Sonn Chan, who won the Swedish Water Prize last year for the most improved waterworks... But you need leadership.

Surely you need more than that for real change?

Yes. You've also got to convince people that it's in their interests to do these things and politicians have to want to do it.

The bigger issue is agriculture. I was in Chennai recently and saw women with plastic buckets chasing after the water trucks when, 10km away, farmers were flooding their padi fields with (more water than they needed). There were no mechanisms to transfer water from (countryside to city). Instead, they proposed to build a 400km-long pipeline from the Krishna River to Chennai.

Why do you say we're running out of water when we can recycle water more cheaply today?

We're running out of water that we can use. The issue of quality of water has gone away because you can always take out (what impurities) you put in water - at a price.

The question now is: Do we have enough water in total? We're not sure where the water in this world came from. Some people think that it came from asteroids, although that's iffy. How many asteroids would you have to have to create enough water for all? There is very little new water on the globe. There is very little transferred water in outer space. So we have a fixed quantum of water and an increasing (population)... But there's still plenty of water for nine billion people if we're smart about it.

Prof Rogers will speak on the prospects of securing water for cities at NUS' Nexus, Level 6, University Hall (Lee Kong Chian Wing) at 12.15pm today. The talk is free and open to the public.

On water and problem solving

SOFT-SPOKEN and perceptive, environmental engineering don Peter Rogers is a civil engineer by training who believes in getting to the root of any problem, to find a satisfying solution to it. Here he is on:


'It's a unique place in a unique situation in a unique time. It has the tremendous opportunity to get things moving in Asia by bringing together opinion leaders to think things through and move ahead on problems.'

What he tells others about Singapore

'If you want to be successful, look at what Singapore is doing and recommending.'

The Marina Barrage

'It's a terrific solution if you're worried about water supply. Singapore's body politic has decided that it's a worthwhile risk to take but it would be very hard to do this elsewhere.'

China's leaders

'Of course, they are all engineers who see engineering solutions to everything. But as an engineer, I don't see engineering solutions to everything.'


'It got democracy before development and so it has lots of good ideas and lots of smart people in government but the way it practises democracy means that it's very hard to get things done.'


'The complaint about them is that they waste water by putting it all into swimming pools. But as far as I'm concerned, if someone in California wants to have a big swimming pool, that's fine - provided I'm not paying for it.'

His new book, titled Running Out Of Water

'There are no equations, charts or anything complicated in this book. Just lots and lots of stories because my co-author, a politician, said, 'Doom and gloom stuff just washes over politicians.''


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Billion-plus people to lack water in 2050: study

Shaun Tandon Yahoo News 28 Mar 11;

WASHINGTON (AFP) – More than one billion urban residents will face serious water shortages by 2050 as climate change worsens effects of urbanization, with Indian cities among the worst hit, a study said Monday.

The shortage threatens sanitation in some of the world's fastest-growing cities but also poses risks for wildlife if cities pump in water from outside, said the article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that under current urbanization trends, by mid-century some 993 million city dwellers will live with less than 100 liters (26 gallons) each day of water each -- roughly the amount that fills a personal bathtub -- which authors considered the daily minimum.

Adding on the impact of climate change, an additional 100 million people will lack what they need for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and toilet use.

"Don't take the numbers as destiny. They're a sign of a challenge," said lead author Rob McDonald of The Nature Conservancy, a private environmental group based near Washington.

"There are solutions to getting those billion people water. It's just a sign that a lot more investment is going to be needed, either in infrastructure or in water use efficiency," he said.

Currently, around 150 million people fall below the 100-liter threshold for daily water use. The average American has 376 liters delivered a day, although actual use varies widely depending on region, McDonald said.

But the world is undergoing an unprecedented urban shift as rural people in India, China and other growing nations flock to cities.

India's six biggest cities -- Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad -- are among those most affected by water shortages. The study forecast that 119 million people would face water shortages in 2050 in the Ganges River delta and plain alone.

With an annual monsoon, India does not lack water. But it struggles to preserve the water from the wet season to the dry season, McDonald said.

West Africa, which sees some of the world's heaviest rainfall, will also face water shortages in cities such as Lagos, Nigeria, and Cotonou in Benin, the study found.

The study warned of threats to ecosystems if developing nations take water from elsewhere. India's Western Ghats region, a potential source for thirsty cities, is home to nearly 300 fish species, 29 percent of which are found nowhere else, it said.

"If cities are essentially drinking rivers dry, that has really bad effects on the fish and the reptiles and everything else in the river," McDonald said.

Instead, the study recommended reforms to agriculture -- usually the top consumer of water -- and improved efficiency, as nearly half of the water in some poor countries is wasted due to leaks.

"There is a lot of potential for increase in water-use efficiency in the agriculture sector, or indeed in the residential sector, to solve most of this challenge," McDonald said.

The study said there would be a need for international funding to help poorer nations "to ensure that urban residents can enjoy their fundamental right to adequate drinking water."

UN-led talks last year on climate change agreed on practicalities to set up a global fund to assist poor nations most hit by climate change, with a target of 100 billion dollars a year starting in 2020.

Other cities forecast by the study to face a water crunch include Manila, Beijing, Lahore and Tehran.

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