Best of our wild blogs: 10 Nov 11

Wild pigs in Singapore, whats the big deal?
from Wild Boars of mainland Singapore
and Pig Signs

Sentosa Serapong marine life featured!
from wild shores of singapore

National Geographic Singapore Store – Exhibit and Talks
from Compressed air junkie

Researchers challenge idea that marine reserves promote coral recovery
from news by Rhett Butler

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Kranji Heritage Trail launched

Get in touch with nature and history
Kranji Heritage Trail has 14 agricultural, historical landmarks
Amelia Tan Straits Times 10 Nov 11;

NATURE lovers and history buffs have a new place to explore - Kranji.

The Kranji Heritage Trail, with 14 historical and agricultural landmarks such as the Kranji War Memorial, Kranji Army Barracks, Bollywood Veggies and Hay Dairies, was launched yesterday by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam at Yew Tee Point.

The area is already popular with nature buffs in love with its rustic charm, and foodies, who patronise eateries there serving food made with farm- fresh vegetables and poultry.

But members of the Kranji Countryside Association (KCA), a group made up mostly of farmers in the area, felt that more could be done to raise awareness of Singapore's rural north-western corner.

KCA president Ivy Singh-Lim, who owns vegetable and fruit farm Bollywood Veggies, said: 'There are not many places in Singapore where you can experience nature. Everywhere you look, it's a concrete jungle. A trail like this will make more Singaporeans more aware of our countryside.'

Besides getting in touch with nature, visitors can learn more about the 14 sites from information markers at each one. Those with smartphones can use them to scan Quick Response (QR) codes which will send information about the area to the phone.

The project, which cost about $54,000, is supported by the National Heritage Board (NHB) and NTUC FairPrice Foundation, the supermarket chain's charity arm.

FairPrice buys produce such as vegetables and eggs from farmers in Kranji and Lim Chu Kang.

NHB's contribution comes via the Heritage Industry Incentive Programme, which encourages the development of new and innovative heritage-inspired products and services. The scheme has supported the development of iPhone mobile applications to be used for heritage walking tours in Kampong Glam, Boat Quay, Chinatown and Little India

Mr Shanmugam said that it is important to preserve Singapore's heritage and create natural spaces. 'As a society, we have to start putting some value on these things,' he said.

'You are in Shenton Way or in the city area, you come out and there is a space, an oasis of peace.'

Housewife Cheryl Wee, 48, who lives in Jurong East, said she will explore the trail with her 10-year-old daughter. 'The trail is relatively near our home, so visiting it will be convenient. My daughter can get some exercise and learn more about the history of Kranji.'

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Clive Briffett: Nature pioneer dies in England at age 68

Grace Chua Straits Times 10 Nov 11;

MOST nature lovers here have never met Dr Clive Briffett, but would be familiar with what this British environmental consultant has given to Singapore - he was among the first to come up with the concept of a 'green corridor' connecting our nature areas.

Dr Briffett, who worked in Singapore in the 1980s and 1990s, died of a heart attack in England late last month. He was 68.

The legacy which this keen birdwatcher and member of the Nature Society Singapore (NSS) has left behind includes several books on Singapore birds which he co-authored and his push for the protection of sites like Sungei Buloh.

Though the National University of Singapore academic returned to the city of Oxford in 2001, he kept in touch with friends here. His death sparked an outpouring of support and reminiscences on a webpage set up by his son Philip, 37.

Veteran nature guide and author Lim Kim Seng said that, as the first chair of the Bird Group in NSS, Dr Briffett helped to grow the fledgling group - then called the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) Bird Group - into what it is today.

Dr Briffett also initiated the Singapore Bird Race, a bird count, in 1984, and an annual bird census in 1986.

Among the books he wrote and edited was the 1984 A Guide To The Common Birds Of Singapore, a pocket-sized volume that has drawn many a young nature-lover into birdwatching.

Crucially, he was among those who pushed for the conservation of the mangroves and wildlife in Sungei Buloh, and for studies into environmental impact to be made compulsory before developments are undertaken.

Dr Ho Hua Chew of the NSS conservation committee and Mr Alan Owyong of its Bird Group jointly paid tribute to him as that rare academic 'who dared in the 1980s and 1990s to venture out of the ivory tower of academia to commit himself fearlessly and persistently to advocating nature conservation'.

That an eco-link is being built today to link the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Area is a legacy of his push to develop 'green corridors', which enable animals to move between the two habitats.

Before coming here as a lecturer and environmental consultant, Dr Briffett worked in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom as a building surveyor.

Where his work took him, his family followed. The family lived in Kenya for three years, where camping trips were frequent.

Philip, his youngest son, told The Straits Times in an e-mail: 'Dad never stood still.'

'As a family, we always had great adventures with him,' he added, recalling having hippos wander around their tent in Kenya and a leech attack on Fraser's Hill in Malaysia, where the family also had to avoid a cobra's nest.

Dr Briffett is survived by his wife Hilary and three children - Anna, 40, who runs a farm in Cambridge with her husband; Peter, 39, and Philip, who work for social buying site LivingSocial; seven grand- and step-grandchildren also mourn his loss.

A service will take place today in Oxford. A memorial website has been set up at

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Malaysia: Reclamation at Tg Piai, Johor

Benalec set to win Johor job
Tee Lin Say The Star 10 Nov 11;

PETALING JAYA: Benalec Holdings Bhd, which has requested for its stock to be suspended pending an announcement, is close to securing a land reclamation project that will cover about 5,000 acres in Tanjung Piai in the southwestern tip of Johor, sources said.

The sources added that the contract was being awarded by the Johor government to Spektrum Kukuh Sdn Bhd and Spektrum Budi Sdn Bhd, both of which are 70:30 joint ventures between Benalec and certain individuals.

The blocks of land were divided into two parcels one in the southwest of Tanjung Piai measuring 3,485 acres while the other is in the southeast measuring 1,700 acres, the sources said, adding that Benalec was likely to announce the deal this week.

According to sources, Benalec will undertake a private placement soon to raise funds for the project. Benalec declined to comment when contacted by StarBiz.

The source said the parcel at the southwest of Tanjung Piai was some 17km or 9 nautical miles from the major petrochemical complex on Jurong Island in Singapore. That part of Tanjung Piai is also suitable to be a deepwater petroleum terminal facility, similar to what Dialog Group Bhd is developing in Pengerang, Johor.

“The anchorage in that area is deep and shielded from monsoon,” said the source.

Meanwhile, the land to be reclaimed in the southeast of Tanjung Piai may include a container port to serve Petroliam Nasional Bhd's planned RM60bil refinery and petrochemical integrated development complex in Pengerang.

Sources also said it was likely that Singapore's Jurong International, the master planner for Jurong petrochemical complex, would be appointed the master planner for the reclaimed land in Tanjung Piai.

Benalec is an integrated maritime construction company. Its main activities are land reclamation works, dredging and other services like marine structure and breakwater construction.

Benalec is working on several reclamation projects like Arab City in Malacca, Glenmarie Cove in Port Klang and dredging for the Kapar power station. Its contracts in hand are valued at about RM800mil.

Payment for Benalec's services comes in two forms cash or payment in kind where Benalec is granted some portion of the reclaimed land. The company is currently the largest “land manufacturer” in Malacca with an entitlement of some 1,360 acres. The bulk of this was secured in the form of payment-in-kind from Oriental Holdings Bhd for reclamation works done.

As at June, Benalec has reclaimed and sold 330 acres in Malacca. Out of the outstanding 1,030 acres, 270 acres have been reclaimed and already come with land titles.

AmResearch said in a report that the balance 760 acres would be reclaimed over the next four to five years. A major portion will consist of a sizeable reclamation contract in Klebang where works had commenced since March.

Recently, Benalec won a RM36.6mil contract to reclaim 60 acres on the coast of Pulau Konet, Alor Gajah, Malacca.

Benalec may get first offtaker for petroleum hub soon
Tan Lin Say The Star 12 Nov 11;

PETALING JAYA: Benalec Holdings Bhd is likely to secure its first offtaker for its proposed petroleum and petrochemical hub and maritime industrial park in the next few month, said analysts who attended the company’s briefing yesterday.

To fund its reclamation contracts, Benalec is likely to undertake a private placement next week.

On Thursday, the company announced that it had secured the rights to reclaim and own land in Pengerang and Tanjung Piai measuring 1,760 acres and 3,485 acres respectively from the Johor government.

The reclamation works are for the purpose of developing an integrated petroleum and petrochemical hub and maritime industrial park.

According to AmResearch, international consultants are likely to be appointed soon to undertake the various technical and feasibility studies for the project.

“The group endeavours to complete these studies within six months. It is also in discussions with the Johor government to expedite the land alienation process so that land titles can be received within one month from settling its land premium obligations,” said AmResearch in its report.

At the briefing, analysts were told that the projected gross development value (GDV) in Pengerang was RM3mil per acre while for Tanjung Piai, RM4mil per acre. This works out to a GDV of about RM19.22bil for the entire venture.

Reclamations in Pengerang will take 10 years while Tanjung Piai will take 10 to 20 years.

These projects are close to Jurong Island in Singapore that is presently the third-largest oil trading hub in the world. Benalec wants Tanjung Piai to complement the vibrant petrochemical hub on Jurong Island, which is already overcrowded.

“Construction works for Phase One are scheduled to commence by the end of second quarter 2012, as we expect the group to secure a major offtaker sometime soon,” said an AmResearch analyst.

In the immediate term, Benalec’s primary focus will be on the 2,000 acres under Phases One and Two in Tanjung Piai.

So far, only AmResearch has come out with an updated report on Benalec. It expects net profit to jump 51.4% to RM169.2mil on a 172.5% rise in revenue to RM659.2mil for the financial year ending June 30, 2013.

Benalec’s core activities are in marine construction (land reclamations), vessel chartering and marine transport. For the financial year ended June 30 (FY11), it registered a net profit of RM96.08mil and revenue of RM214.49mil.

Marine construction accounted for the bulk of its FY11 revenue, followed by vessel chartering and ship maintenance and shipbuilding.

Benalec finished 8 sen lower yesterday at RM1.35 on a volume of 13.65 million shares.

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Indonesia: Greenpeace Cries Foul as Eviction Papers Are Served

Elisabeth Oktofani & Dofa Fasila Jakarta Globe 9 Nov 11;

Environmental group Greenpeace has lashed out at the Jakarta administration’s decision to seal off its office for zoning violations, calling the move just the latest attack in a corporate-backed smear campaign against the organization.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia media campaigner Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya said the group had been unfairly targeted.

“The continued attacks against Greenpeace started when we launched our global campaign against Asia Pulp and Paper by exposing evidence of APP forest destruction in early June this year,” he said.

He declined, however, to say who Greenpeace believed was behind the smear campaign.

“Although we know who it is, we don’t want to mention the particular company or party because we don’t have a capacity to investigate it,” Hikmat said.

The statements came as the Jakarta Building Control and Monitoring Office (P2B) said it had served notice to Greenpeace on Wednesday about the closure and would proceed with sealing off its office on Jalan Kemang Utara in South Jakarta next Monday.

Agus Supriyono, P2B’s head of enforcement, said the office had been built in an area designated for residential buildings only.

“Like any other building that violates regulations, we will have to seal off this building,” he said.

“We will only unseal it once the building owners have restored it as a residential property. So that means that come Monday, Greenpeace must stop all activities at its office.”

Agus denied that his office had been pressured by outside parties to move against Greenpeace, calling the matter a simple zoning issue. He added that an office building next to the Greenpeace office would also be sealed off.

However, several other office and commercial buildings on the same street have been allowed to operate as usual.

“We don’t have a problem with Greenpeace. We’re just doing our job, which is to enforce zoning regulations and take measures against violating buildings,” Agus said.

“If Greenpeace wants to relocate its offices, they’re welcome to do so, just as long as they do so in an area where it’s permissible.”

Widyo Dwiyono, head of the South Jakarta P2B office, echoed the point that the entire Kemang area was designated as a residential zone, making it imperative that Greenpeace move.

Kemang is also home to scores of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops, very few of which have ever been sealed off or cited for zoning violations.

Hikmat said Greenpeace found it humorous how its “persecutor” kept coming up with different ways of attacking the organization, including past allegations that it was funded by lottery money and that it was intent on stalling Indonesian economic development by attacking the country’s palm oil industry.

“We’re not against the palm oil industry, nor do we want to stop Indonesian economic development,” he said. “All we are asking for is responsible industrial practices by implementing sustainable industrial development rather than destroying and exploiting the rainforest.

“It needs to be understood that Greenpeace’s campaigns focus on saving the Indonesian rainforest, hence we continue to urge all companies to save the rainforest through sustainable industrial development.”

Hikmat added that Greenpeace was aware it faced opposition to its work, but said attacks and pressure would not stop it from campaigning for better environmental stewardship.

“We just hope that the media and society don’t get the wrong idea about our mission in Indonesia because we just want to save the Indonesian rainforest,” he said.

Last month, a Greenpeace UK forest campaigner was deported from Indonesia for reasons that were never made clear. That incident took place less than a week after the Greenpeace UK director was denied entry into the country despite arriving with a valid visa.

Nur Hidayati, head of Greenpeace Indonesia, said at the time that the group was “coming under attack in Indonesia because of our work to stop deforestation in the country.”

Lawmakers and religious leaders have publicly questioned the source of the group’s funding, while hard-line groups have claimed it is working in the country illegally because it is not registered with the Jakarta administration.

Critics of Greenpeace have also accused it of targeting APP while ignoring foreign companies that operate in Indonesia. APP, though, is foreign, being based in Singapore.

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Australia: Calls for action on traditional turtle hunting after tourists witness slaughter on Green Island

Laura Packham The Cairns Post 10 Nov 11;

TOURISTS have watched on in horror as turtles have been slaughtered in a popular holiday location in the Far North.

Tourism operators are now calling for increased public debate about the traditional hunting of green sea turtles and dugongs and are seeking a ban on the practice in key tourist locations.

They said killings happened often enough to distress visitors and send the wrong message around the world.

Visitors to Green Island on Friday were confronted with a number of speared turtle carcasses left at the popular tourist island.

Two weeks ago, tourists said they saw fins being cut off turtles on an island beach.

A ranger at the park was also believed to have been threatened for asking traditional hunters not to kill marine animals in front of tourists.

The island attracts about 300,000 visitors a year.

Located about 30km from Cairns, Green Island is used for traditional hunting and fishing under the Native Title Act of 1993.

Indigenous leaders said they could self-regulate their traditional hunting practices.

Traditional owners of the area, also known as Wunyami, have hunted there for thousands of years.

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises tourism operator Steve Davies yesterday called for a ban on hunting turtles and dugongs in popular tourist areas.

Mr Davies also called for a return to the customary traditional hunting practices of using canoes instead of motorised vessels.

"Traditional methods of hunting for retaining their culture is great but roaring out on to the Reef in great big boats, with large outboard motors and spotlights is not traditional hunting at all," he said.

"Last year, a dugong and turtle were killed in front of 300 passengers on the Big Cat.

"It was just horrific, with blood everywhere and passengers crying. People were just devastated.

"The pictures these tourists take are being filtered all over the world."

North Queensland Land Council’s Danny O’Shane said he did not support a moratorium on hunting.

He said with between 70 and 90 per cent unemployment across some indigenous communities, such as Yarrabah, indigenous families relied on the practice for fresh meat.

"I think Australia should be more inclusive," he said.

"We are a hunting people and if tourists come to this place they must understand this has been our way of life for a long time.

"I don’t know if it does cause tourists to drop off, I think very few know about it, if any. I think the concern is

Former tourism employee Dominic Eggins said the killing of the endangered marine animals was difficult to explain to local and international visitors.

"It’s a really hard sell when you’re trying to tell people this is a beautiful pristine area, a marine park within the Great Barrier Reef where everything is protected and you can’t even take shells off the beach," Mr Eggins said.

"And just over there we’ve got some people in a boat traditionally hunting and killing dugongs and turtles."

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in conjunction with traditional owners, has produced a brochure for local tourism operators of "how to tell the story" of traditional hunting and native title to visitors.

The brochure advises tourism operators to discuss the law that recognises Native Title Holders’ rights.

"Many traditional owner groups have taken active steps to limit the take of turtle and dugong and in some cases have voluntarily agreed to temporarily suspend take of these species," a GBRMPA spokesman said.

Last month Environment Minister Vicky Darling praised two Far Northern Aboriginal tribes, the Nywaigi and Girramay people, for suspending hunting permits until turtle and dugong numbers recovered.

The latest data on turtle populations show there were 1232 turtle strandings in 2011, compared with 639 last year.

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Aquaculture to provide more than half of world consumption

Meeting growing demand for fish
FAO 9 Nov 11;

9 November 2011, Rome - Aquaculture is the world's fastest-growing source of animal protein and currently provides nearly half of all fish consumed globally, according to a report published here by FAO.

The report World Aquaculture 2010 found that global production of fish from aquaculture grew more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2008, from 32.4 million tonnes to 52.5 million tonnes.

It also forecasts that by 2012 more than 50 percent of the world's food fish consumption will come from aquaculture.

"With stagnating global capture fishery production and an increasing population, aquaculture is perceived as having the greatest potential to produce more fish in the future to meet the growing demand for safe and quality aquatic food," the report said.

Poverty reduction

With its growth in volume and value, aquaculture has clearly helped reduce poverty and improve food security in many parts of the world.

But aquaculture has not grown evenly around the planet. Marked differences in production levels, species composition and farming systems exist within and between regions, and from one country to another.

The Asia-Pacific region dominates the sector -- in 2008 it accounted for 89.1 percent of global production, with China alone contributing 62.3 percent. Of the 15 leading aquaculture-producing countries, 11 are in the Asia-Pacific region.

A few countries lead the production of some major species, such as China with carps; China, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and India with shrimps and prawns; and Norway and Chile with salmon.

Intensive systems

In terms of farming systems, intensive systems are more prevalent in North America and in advanced aquaculture-producing countries in Europe and Latin America. In the Asia-Pacific region, despite major technical developments, small-scale commercial producers remain the backbone of the sector.

Small-scale producers and small and medium entrepreneurs are also important players in Africa. Commercial and industrial-scale producers dominate in Latin America, but there is strong potential for the development of small-scale production.

While the demand for aquaculture products continues to increase, there is growing recognition of the need to address consumers' concerns for quality and safe products and animal health and welfare, the report said. Thus, issues such as food safety, traceability, certification and ecolabelling are assuming growing importance and considered as high priorities by many governments.

Aside from environmental sustainability, other major challenges faced by aquaculture include climate change and the global economic downturn, the report noted. The sector should therefore prepare itself to face their potential impacts and make special efforts to further assist small-scale producers by organizing them into associations and through promotion of better management practices.

"Achieving the global aquaculture sector's long-term goal of economic, social and environmental sustainability depends primarily on continued commitments by governments to provide and support a good governance framework for the sector," the report added.

The full report, together with regional reviews presented at Global Aquaculture Conference held in Phuket, Thailand in 2010 can be found on the following dedicated website:

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Two rhino species bite the dust: Red List

AFP Yahoo News 10 Nov 11;

Several species of rhino have been poached into extinction or to the point of no return, according to an update of the Red List of Threatened Species, the gold standard for animal and plant conservation.

All told, a quarter of all mammal species assessed are at risk of extinction, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which compiles the list, said on Thursday.

About a third of the 61,900 species now catalogued by the IUCN are classified as "vulnerable," "endangered," "critically endangered," or extinct, with some groups, such as amphibians and reptiles, in particularly rapid decline.

Rhinoceros have been hit especially hard in recent years. Their fearsome horns -- prized for dagger handles in the Middle East and traditional medicine in east Asia -- can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market.

The new assessment shows that a subspecies of the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) native to western Africa is now extinct, joining a long list of creatures -- from the Tasmanian tiger to the Arabian gazelle -- that no longer stride the planet.

Central Africa's northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) is listed as "possibly extinct in the wild", while the Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is making a last stand after the remaining specimen of its Vietnamese counterpart was killed by poachers last year.

"Human beings are stewards of the earth and we are responsible for protecting the species that share our environment," Simon Stuart, head of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, said in a statement.

"In the case of both the western black and the northern white rhinos the situation could have had very different results if suggested conservation measures had been implemented."

There were a few slivers of good news showing that species can be prevented from slipping into oblivion.

The southern white rhino subspecies (Ceratotherium simum simum) is back from the brink, its numbers up from 100 at the end of the 19th century to some 20,000 today.

Central Asia's Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus), meanwhile, has moved from a status of critically endangered to endangered.

"We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner," said Jane Smart, the Global Species Programme director.

The general trend, however, is an acceleration in extinction across a wide spectrum of fauna and flora. Indeed, many scientists say Earth is on the edge of a so-called great extinction event, only the sixth in half-a-billion years.

Some groups are especially vulnerable. In Madagascar, home to a dazzlingly rich diversity of life, an alarming 40 percent of reptiles are threatened.

Plant species are disappearing too. Such was the fate of the Chinese water fir (Glyptostrobus pensilis), once common in China but now apparently extinct in the wild due to habitat loss.

The new classification also recognises new species, including 26 recently discovered amphibians such as the blessed poison frog (Ranitomeya benedicta) and the summers' poison frog (Ranitomeya summersi).

Both are threatened by habitat loss and harvesting for the international pet trade.

"The world is full of marvelous species that are rapidly moving towards becoming things of myth and legend," said the IUCN's Jean-Christophe Vie.

Western black rhino declared extinct
Daniel Boettcher BBC News 10 Nov 11;

No wild black rhinos remain in West Africa, according to the latest global assessment of threatened species.

The Red List, drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has declared the subspecies extinct.

A subspecies of white rhino in central Africa is also listed as possibly extinct, the organisation says.

The annual update of the Red List now records more threatened species than ever before.

The IUCN reports that despite conservation efforts, 25% of the world's mammals are at risk of extinction. As part of its latest work it has reassessed several rhinoceros groups.
Poaching vulnerability

As well as declaring the western black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) extinct, it records the northern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum cottoni), a subspecies in central Africa, as being on the brink of extinction.

The last Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) outside Java is also believed to have disappeared.

Overall numbers of black and white rhinos have been rising, but some subspecies have been particularly vulnerable to poaching by criminal gangs who want to trade the animals' valuable horns.

Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, told BBC News: "They had the misfortune of occurring in places where we simply weren't able to get the necessary security in place.

"You've got to imagine an animal walking around with a gold horn; that's what you're looking at, that's the value and that's why you need incredibly high security."

Another focus for this year's list is Madagascar and its reptiles. The report found that 40% of terrestrial reptiles are threatened. But it also says that new areas have been designated for conservation.

That will help protect endangered species including Tarzan's chameleon (Calumma tarzan) and the limbless skink (Paracontias fasika).

Among the success stories identified in the latest annual update is the reintroduction of the Przewalski's horse (Equus ferus). Listed extinct in the wild in 1996, it was brought back after a captive breeding programme and the wild population is now thought to exceed 300.

Among the partner organisations involved in compiling the research for the list is the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

ZSL's Dr Monika Boehm said: "This Red List update very much shows us a mixed picture of what's happening to the world's species. There's some good news and some bad news.

"Unfortunately, the overall trend is still a decline in biodiversity. We still haven't achieved our conservation potential."

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Bioterrorism threat seen in alien or invasive species

UPI 9 Nov 11;

BOSTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- It's been the stuff of movies, science fiction and alarmist political rhetoric, but new scientific research shows an invasive species incompatible with a specific ecosystem could be deployed as unique biological weapons by terrorist individuals or organizations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines invasive species as non-native to an ecosystem and likely to cause environmental, health or economic harm.

The department's recent actions included detection or removal of species alien to North American locations. Some species spread disease among bats; others such as weeds displace or destroy vegetation in natural habitats.

More seriously for humans, invasive species could be manipulated to become biological weapons, researcher Lawrence Roberge said in a doctoral dissertation at Atlantic International University in Honolulu.

"In the hands of a rogue nation, terrorists, or an individual bent on destruction, an invasive species could have an affect similar to better known potential biological weapons such as smallpox or anthrax," said Roberge, an associate professor of anatomy and physiology at Laboure College in Boston.

In the study, Roberge explored multiple threats posed by invasive species consumed or carried by birds, feral pigs, ticks and various kinds of insects and plants.

Feral pigs can be used to carry the Nipah virus and spread disease among humans, cattle and wildlife, he said.

The heartwater pathogen is a microbe that can cause heart and pulmonary edema. When carried by the tropical bont tick, it can kill deer, cattle or other wildlife, and potentially be transmitted to humans.

The striga plant parasite can destroy corn crops and subsequently devastate commodity markets and biofuel production.

Barberry plants eaten by birds can spread wheat stem rust, causing a decline or destruction of wheat production.

He said invasive species could be used to selectively destroy parts of a society potentially causing chaos, food shortages and other forms of mass destruction.

"These types of weapons are inexpensive to produce and hard to detect immediately, so they can cause extensive damage before they can be controlled," he said.

A nation under such an attack might find it difficult to respond to an outright attack. "We must prepare for the use of invasive species as biological weapons," Roberge said.

More extensive research and record keeping is the answer, he added.

He called for the creation of a global database of biocontrol agents such as predators, pathogens and parasites, expansion of global reporting on invasive species and genomic mapping for known and high-risk, non-indigenous organisms.

Read more:

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World has five years to avoid severe warming: IEA

Marlowe Hood AFP Yahoo News 10 Nov 11;

The world has just five years to avoid being trapped in a scenario of perilous climate change and extreme weather events, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Wednesday.

On current trends, "rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change," the IEA concluded in its annual World Energy Outlook report.

"The door to 2.0 C is closing," it said, referring to the 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) cap on global warming widely accepted by scientists and governments as the ceiling for averting unmanageable climate damage.

Without further action, by 2017 the total CO2 emissions compatible with the 2.0 C goal will be "locked in" by power plants, factories and other carbon-emitting sources either built or planned, the IEA said.

Global infrastructure already accounts for more than 75 percent of that limit.

To meet energy needs while still averting climate catastrophe, governments must engineer a shift away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, the agency said bluntly.

"As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the 'lock-in' of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals," said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

The report outlines two scenarios for future energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.

A "new policies" scenario incorporates existing government promises into a projection up to 2035.

A "450 scenario" lays out a timetable for curbing carbon emissions so that atmospheric concentration of CO2 stays under 450 parts per million (ppm), roughly equivalent to the 2.0 C target.

The current level is about 390 ppm.

Even taking into account current commitments, CO2 emitted over the next 25 years will amount to three-quarters of the total emitted since 1900, leading to a 3.5 C (6.3 F) average increase in temperature since that date.

Business-as-usual emissions would put the world "on an even more dangerous track toward an increase of 6.0 C (10.8 F)," the report says.

Scientists who have modelled the impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and human settlement say a 6 C world would be close to unlivable due to violent extremes of drought, flooding, heatwaves and storms.

The planet's average temperature has risen by about 1.0 C (1.8 F) over the last century, with forecasts for future warming ranging from an additional 1.0 C to 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100.

The report forecasts a one-third jump in primary energy demand by 2035, with 90 percent of this growth in developing economies.

Half of that demand will likely be met by increased use of coal, the most carbon-intensive of all major fossil fuels.

China -- already the world's top coal consumer -- is on track to use nearly 70 percent more energy than the United States by that date, it says.

Even under the "new policies" scenario progress toward a low-carbon economy will be halting.

The share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls from around 81 percent today to 75 percent in 2035, while renewables increase from 13 percent of the mix today to 18 percent.

This scenario already assumes a huge boost in subsidies for renewables, from $64 billion today to $250 billion in 2035.

"One wonders how many more worrying figures the world needs," commented Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate commissioner.

The report "shows that the world is heading for a fossil-fuel lock-in. This is another urgent call to move to a low-carbon economy," she said in a statement.

Setting a global price on carbon, slashing fossil fuel subsidies, boosting renewable energy and energy efficiency and revised tax codes are all tools for achieving that end, she added.

Warming Limit Risk If No Climate Action By 2017: IEA
Nina Chestney PlanetArk 10 Nov 11;

The world may not be able to limit global temperature rise to safe levels if new international climate action is not taken by 2017, as so many fossil fuel power plants and factories are being built, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

If the world is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius -- thought to be the minimum safety level before devastating effects of climate change set in -- emission volumes must not have more than 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.

With emissions already at 390 ppm of CO2, time is running out for action.

Around 80 percent of total energy-related carbon emissions permissible by 2035 to limit warming are already accounted for by existing power plants, buildings and factories, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook.

"As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the 'lock-in' of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals," said Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist.

The warning comes just a few weeks before international negotiators gather in South Africa to try and work on a new global pact to fight global warming.

Expectations are low to deliver a binding deal this year. The European Union is pushing for a deal by 2015 but some other countries have been accused of delaying a pact until 2018 or 2020.

"If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed (...) up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly."

Additional low-carbon technology and energy efficiency investment to 2035 would need to total $15.2 trillion to limit warming to two degrees -- out of a total energy supply investment of $36.5 trillion, the report said.


"Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions," the report added.

In 2010, global CO2 emissions rose 5.3 percent from a year earlier to 30.4 gigatonnes. If new climate policies are implemented cautiously, CO2 emissions will rise by 20 percent to 36.4 gigatonnes in 2035, it added.

This would lead to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5 degrees Celsius. If new policies are not implemented, the world is on a "dangerous track" to a 6 degree rise.

The U.N.'s aim of giving everyone in the world access to modern energy by 2030 would require $48 billion of investment -- or 3 percent of total energy investment to 2030 -- compared to $9 billion in 2009, the IEA said.

The IEA also forecast that the share of renewables from non-hydro sources in power generation will increase to 15 percent in 2035 from 3 percent in 2009, mainly supported by subsidies which should rise nearly five times to $180 billion.

This compares to fossil fuel subsidies which could rise to $660 billion in 2020 without further reform, from $409 billion in 2010.

"By simply redirecting all the fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy programs the 2 billion poor people would have access to energy not only by 2030, but within this decade," says Sven Teske, senior energy expert Greenpeace International.

The agency sees carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a key technology which could account for 18 percent of emissions savings under the 2 degree limit scenario.

However, if commercial scale CCS is delayed by ten years to 2030, it would add $1.1 trillion to the cost of limiting global temperatures to safe levels, the report said.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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