Best of our wild blogs: 23 Nov 11

Pelagic Outing November 2011
from Con Foley Photography

Aquatic Heteroptera of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia – Website Updated!
from Raffles Museum News

Katydid Asiophlugis species
from Creatures Big & Small

Wild facts updates in Nov: corals, clams and more
from wild shores of singapore

Juvenile Oriental Magpie-robin Moulting into Adult
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Bathtub-sized marine sponge rediscovered after a century of extinction from news by Jeremy Hance

Report questions legitimacy of Asia Pulp & Paper's conservation initiatives from news by Rhett Butler

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Wildlife activists campaign to save 'world's saddest dolphins'

Carmela G. Lapena GMA News 22 Nov 11;

Marine conservationists have launched a campaign to urge the Philippine government not to re-export 25 dolphins, currently held at the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic, to Singapore and instead, release them back to the wild.

Louise Ng, Executive Director of the Animal Concerns Education and Research Society of Singapore (ACRES), said a growing number of Singaporeans have voiced their opposition to keeping the dolphins, which were caught in the wild from the Solomon Islands, as show animals for Resorts World Singapore.

"We had people forming a huge dolphin shape, to get everyone together, enjoy music and then to take action to show results that over a thousand people can gather on a Sunday afternoon to let these dolphins go," Ng told GMA News Online at the Save the World's Saddest Dolphins campaign launch held November 12-13 at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Since May this year, ACRES and the non-profit Earth Island Institute (EII) have launched an international campaign to urge Resorts World Singapore to free the 25 dolphins. So far, the campaign has generated over a million signatures in its online petition.

"The ultimate objective is to send them back to Solomon Islands where they belong," said local marine life crusader A.G. Saño, who has created dolphin-themed murals called the Dolphins Love Freedom Network all over the country.

Other campaign supporters are the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, Save Philippine Seas, Philippine Animal Welfare Society, and Marine Mammal Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.

Role of zoos

In an open letter to animal lovers, however, Resorts World defended its plan to keep the dolphins in its Marine Life Park.

"Resorts World aims to educate and enrich the understanding and protection of the oceans, and the Marine Life Park will serve as a showcase for ocean science education, research and stewardship," says Resorts World on its website.

"There is the point of view that animals born in the wild should not be kept in zoological facilities, that they should roam free. But at the same time, there is also a view of many animal experts and millions of people who support zoos and aquariums that zoological facilities can provide inspiration to those living in urban communities," said Resorts World.

"Zoos and oceanariums play an important role in giving people the opportunity to come up close with different species of the animal kingdom. Without this access, could our children grow up with any real awareness, understanding or appreciation of the animal species that share this planet with us? Is watching documentaries or reading about them enough to create empathy and conservation action?" Resorts World asks.

A report on Channel News Asia says that the dolphins were originally kept in Langkawi, but after two dolphins died of acute bacterial infection in October 2010, the rest of the dolphins were moved to the Philippines.

"All our dolphins in Subic Bay today are very healthy, and we hopefully will be able to bring them, what I call back home here, in the next 12 months," Resorts World Sentosa CEO Tan Hee Teck was quoted as saying in the report.

Sought for comment on why the dolphins were placed there, the Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. responded with a press release that said in part, "All animals at Ocean Adventure are here under government permits and with the oversight of the appropriate agencies. The company provides for the holding and care of animals for other organizations, under contract and with all necessary government permits."

Petition to BFAR

In a petition addressed to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez, the groups called on the Philippine government to deny the export of the 25 dolphins to Resorts World. They cited scientific reports prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) showing that the harvest of wild dolphins from the Solomon Islands may not be sustainable and could further endanger the local population of dolphins in the island nation. Last September, its government announced that it will ban all dolphin hunts in their territory beginning next year.

The campaigners said scientific studies have proven that dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans are not suited for a life of captivity. They added that the captive animals are bottlenosed dolphins, which are listed as "Endangered Species" by BFAR.

"Dolphins are highly social creatures that are accustomed to being in family pods. In the wild, they roam thousands of kilometers of ocean together. They are used to exploring three-dimensional underwater worlds full of sounds, sights, movement, color, varying landscapes and changing currents," said the group.

"Yet, given all this information, the 25 dolphins that are now in the Philippines are still being trained as show animals and kept under tight security at the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic Bay, Philippines. It is time to rehabilitate and return them back to their home in the Solomon Islands," the petition reads.

"The key thing is to make sure the public understands this issue. Ultimately Resorts World is a business. A business that must listen to the consumers. If the consumers become aware of this and they start to speak up then the business needs to change their decisions," said Ng, who is hoping that people will not buy tickets to see the dolphins.

The petition was launched on November 12, on the same day as the start of the campaign, which will be brought to various schools: Ateneo de Manila University on November 17-18, De La Salle University on November 14-19, and UP Diliman on November 24-25.

Trixie Concepcion of Earth Island Institute says they plan to file the petition by the end of the month, after the roadshows.

Enjoy nature

"Humans should stop thinking it is their right and privilege to have dolphins perform for them. They should stop thinking that the best way to view an animal is for it to be in a cage or in an enclosure. It's not a relationship if you're looking at it and it's performing against its nature," said Anna Gonzalez of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

"With dolphins also, the other way around is if you take your kids out dolphin watching and you're also at a respectful distance. We hope that they also start enjoying all the other wildlife connected with the ocean, the coastlines, everything else in between," said Gonzalez, who believes birdwatching is a doorway to many nature-based activities.

"We believe that humans should have a more meaningful relationship with nature and not be the boss of it, but have an equal and interdependent relationship with nature... The best way to enjoy nature is by going out into it and not have some guy bring it to your doorstep and then you pay that guy," said Gonzalez.

At the campaign launch, the participating organizations distributed brochures to weekend shoppers, some of whom stopped for a while to look at the small exhibit. Others watched short films such as "The Dolphin Dealer," a documentary on Chris Porter, a former dolphin broker who eventually became an animal rights activist, and "Blood Dolphins," which features EII's Ric O'Barry, lead activist in the Oscar-winning film "The Cove."

"Visual methods are the most effective," said Saño, who admits that it is difficult to have a successful campaign. "The way the laws are interpreted it's not always favorable. That's the reality." - YA, GMA News

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Dolphins get stressed at noisy marine parks

Jennifer Lee my paper AsiaOne 23 Nov 11;

A DOLPHIN at a marine park in Switzerland died recently, after a rave party was held near an amusement park which houses the dolphinarium.

It was reported that conservationists said the animal's immune system might have been damaged by loud music from the 16-hour party.

Dolphins are highly sensitive to noise, and this incident calls to mind Resorts World Sentosa's decision to showcase 25 wild dolphins at its upcoming Marine Life Park.

Can the integrated resort be able to guarantee that noise levels at the marine park and surrounding attractions will be minimal? Can dolphin shows be held without loud background music and cheers from the audience? Such noise will cause great stress to the dolphins.

The resort has assured the public that the park meets Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) standards. It can provide better assurances by opening the Subic Bay facility, where the dolphins are housed currently, for visits.

Marine parks can be educational and contribute to marine-life conservation efforts, but achieving this goal is possible without putting dolphins on show.

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Malaysia: Dead dolphin in Penang sparks concern

Looi Sue-Chern New Straits Times 22 Nov 11;

The carcass of a dolphin with a rope around its head found rotting on the rocky shores of Persiaran Gurney in Penang. Pic by Ramdzan Masiam

A dolphin’s carcass which was washed ashore has raised concerns on the vulnerability of marine mammals to fishing activities

THE discovery of a dead dolphin on the rocky shores off Persiaran Gurney has again raised concerns on the vulnerability of marine mammals in the North Channel.

Malaysian Nature Society (Penang branch) adviser D. Kanda Kumar said it was common for dolphins in Penang waters to get caught in fishing nets and die.

"It is not uncommon for dolphins to get caught in fishermen's nets.

"It is a worldwide problem, but in the West, there is more awareness among the fishing communities.

"Here, we will need more of such awareness-raising efforts to educate our fishermen to take care where they throw their nets."

Kanda said old and unwanted fishing nets were sometimes discarded into the sea and could potentially cause marine creatures like dolphins to get entangled in them.

The carcass of the dolphin was lying on the rocks next to a long piece of wood with ropes attached. There was also a rope around its head.

It is believed that the dolphin, a juvenile, had been dead for days, but it is not known how long the carcass had been at Persiaran Gurney and whether the animal had died before its carcass was washed ashore.

Dolphins, especially bottlenose, are commonly found off the coastal waters of Penang.

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Malaysia: Cut the rubbish and prevent floods

The Star 23 Nov 11;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians can help prevent floods during the monsoon season just by throwing rubbish responsibly.

“The river near my house overflows its banks every time there is a downpour. People keep throwing rubbish into it, clogging it up,” said Crisis Relief Services and Training spokesperson Olivia Chen.

She added that Malaysians could do more to educate themselves on the links between the environmental and natural disasters and better prepare themselves for emergency situations.

“The Government is doing an excellent job and always acts quickly to provide relief.

“However, in Malaysia, we get at least three months of heavy rain in a year.

“There is a lot that we can do with our surroundings during the remaining nine months to make them less flood-prone.

“The problem is that Malaysians tend to be reactive, not proactive,” she said.

Chen added that her organisation has been trying to conduct more crisis response training workshops.

Mercy Malaysia Disaster Risk Reduction department head Puteri Yusof said that climate change and rapid urbanisation called for a greater need for preparednesss.

“If you live in a flood-prone area, such as a lowland, take measures to elevate your house. If there is a river nearby that always overflows, deepen it and make sure it is clear of trash,” she said.

She added that remembering ”K2P2” was one way to be ready.

“It means two ‘knows’ and two ‘prepares’. Know the risks: identify which hazards in your home and surroundings pose the greatest threats. Know the warning signs: be alert to environmental changes which might sometimes signal danger. Prepare an evacuation plan: prepare a place to go and plan what to do in case of an emergency when you need to evacuate. Finally, prepare a grab bag: put essential items you might need into a bag you can easily get hold of in an emergency,” she said.

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Botanists discover 'remarkable' night-flowering orchid

Mark Kinver and Victoria Gill BBC News and Nature 22 Nov 11

A night-flowering orchid, the first of its kind known to science, has been described by a team of botanists.

Experts say the "remarkable" species is the only orchid known to consistently flower at night, but why it has adopted this behaviour remains a mystery.

Bulbophyllum nocturnum (Image: Jaap Vermeulen) The Bulbophyllum nocturnum is the first orchid species, out of about 25,000, to only flower at night

The plant was discovered by a Dutch researcher during an expedition to New Britain, an island near Papua New Guinea.

The findings appear in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

"It was so unexpected because there are so many species of orchids and not one was known [to flower] at night only," said co-author Andre Schuiteman, senior researcher and an orchid expert at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

"It was quite remarkable to find one, after so many years of orchid research, that is night-flowering," he told BBC News.

The specimen was discovered by co-author Ed de Vogel during a field trip in a region of lowland rainforest on the Pacific island.

One-night stand

Its unique flowering behaviour only came to light after the specimen was taken back to the Netherlands.

Dr de Vogel took the plant home in an attempt to understand why its buds appeared to wither when they reached a size that would normally produce 2cm flowers.

To his surprise, he observed the flowers open a few hours after dusk and remain open until a few hours after sunrise.

The flowers opened for one night only, explaining why the buds appeared to be preparing to open one day, yet be withered the next day.

The specimen has been identified as belonging to the Bulbophyllum genus, which - with about 2,000 species - is the largest group in the orchid family.

While there are a number of orchids that do attract night-time pollinators, B. nocturnum is the first known species that exclusively flowers at night.

Mr Schuiteman said it still remained a mystery why the plant had developed such behaviour.

"We think related species are pollinated by tiny flies that think they are visiting fungi," he explained.

"The flowers mimic fungi, that's what the details of the flowers look like they do.

"The flies are looking for somewhere to lay eggs, and it is most probably [a species] that forages at night."

He added: "The orchid probably has a smell, not detectable by humans, to attract insects from a distance - and when they are nearby, the shape and physical aspects of the flower probably play a role too.

'Double-edged sword'

Mr Schuiteman said the exact reason why B. nocturnum only flowered at night would remain a mystery until further field studies had been completed.

However, time may be against them as the location in western New Britain where the original specimen was found lay within a logging area.

"It was previously inaccessible but now the area has been opened by logging," Mr Schuiteman said, adding that was an area that needed to be explored because there were probably many more species waiting to be described.

He said the logging activity was a double-edged sword because Papua New Guinea's government had granted logging licences in the area meant that it created roads that had allowed the plant hunters to carry out their exploration, yet it was an activity that could threaten the long-term survival of the species.

"My colleague who discovered it got permission from the logging company to go into the area, they even gave him a car to use.

"They realised that it would have been a shame to log the trees and destroy the orchids because they would be left lying on the ground exposed to full sunlight."

He called for areas to be left untouched: "It is the government that gives permits to log a particular area, so we should be asking them to protect areas and not issue permits for everything."

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Europe urged to back global ban on shark finning

The European commission has proposed a total ban on EU vessels removing shark's fins at sea and discarding the body
Press Association 21 Nov 11;

Europe's governments were urged today to back a global ban on EU fishermen removing shark fins at sea.

Shark finning – cutting off a shark's fin and discarding the body – is driven by a profitable market for the delicacy of shark fin soup in Asia.

A general ban on the practice has been in force in the EU since 2003, but with exceptions which allow some countries to issue fishing permits for removing shark fins as long as both the fin and body are landed and that the total fins caught do not exceed 5% of the live weight of sharks caught.

The UK ended such permits in 2009, but the EU is one of the world's largest suppliers of shark fins to Asia, largely because of the volume exported by Spain and Portugal.

Now the European commission has proposed a total ban, to be applied to EU vessels, anywhere in the world.

Maria Damanaki, commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, said: "By closing the loophole in our legislation, we want to eradicate the appalling removal of shark fins and provide much better protection for sharks."

She said controls would be stepped up, making it harder to hide "finning", and she urged EU governments and MEPs to speed the legislation through.

Once approved, the move means vessels fishing in EU waters - and all EU vessels fishing in the world - must land sharks with fins attached to the body.

Ali Hood, the Shark Trust's director of conservation, said: "The Shark Trust will look to the UK government to show leadership among the member states and champion the adoption of a 'fins-naturally-attached policy', with no exceptions."

EU director of Humane Society International Joanna Swabe warned: "It is imperative that no attempt be made by any EU member states or MEPs to water down this legislative proposal.

"A 'fins-naturally-attached' policy, without exception, is the only way to end the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning."

The organisation says the permit system has become the norm, rather than the exception, for the Spanish and Portuguese longline fleets.

Ricardo Aguilar, research director at Oceana, the international marine conservation organisation, said: "By opting for a fins-attached approach, the European commission has heeded the advice of experts worldwide: landing sharks with their fins still naturally attached is the only possible way to guarantee that finning does not occur.

"Furthermore, if all sharks must be landed with their fins attached, it will be much easier to identify the species caught, and therefore, to gather critical data about the status of shark populations."

Globally, up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to satisfy the demand of the international shark fin market. EU nations combined catch the second-largest share of sharks - 14% of the world's reported shark catches.

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European Environment: alarming decline in plants, molluscs and freshwater fish

IUCN 22 Nov 11;

Europe's natural heritage is showing an alarming decline, according to new research published today. The European Red List, a part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, assessed a considerable portion of Europe’s native fauna and flora, finding that a large proportion of molluscs, freshwater fish and vascular plants now fall into a threatened category.

The assessment of some 6,000 species reveals that 44% of all freshwater molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 20% of a selection of terrestrial molluscs, 19% of reptiles, 15% of mammals and of dragonflies, 13% of birds, 11% of a selection of saproxylic beetles, 9% of butterflies and 467 species of vascular plant species are now under threat.

European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik said: "The well-being of people in Europe and all over the world depends on goods and services that nature provides. If we don’t address the reasons behind this decline and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed."

Freshwater molluscs are the most threatened group assessed so far. Spengler’s Freshwater Mussel (Margaritifera auricularia), once widespread, is now restricted to a handful of rivers in France and Spain. Currently listed as Critically Endangered, it was considered to be nearly extinct in the 1980s. The species is one of two for which a European-level Action Plan was designed and there are ongoing conservation programmes which allow hope for its future.

“The figures confirm the worrying condition of European molluscs,” said Annabelle Cuttelod, IUCN Coordinator of the European Red List. “When combined with the high level of threats faced by freshwater fish and amphibians, we can see that the European freshwater ecosystems are really under serious threats that require urgent conservation action.”

Freshwater fish are also highly threatened, especially as a result of pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the introduction of alien species. Sturgeons are particularly at risk, with all but one of the eight European species now Critically Endangered.

Included in the vascular plant category are the wild relatives of crop plants which are vital for food security yet are often neglected in terms of conservation. The Critically Endangered Beta patula is a close wild relative of cultivated beets and an important gene source for enhancing virus resistance. Other plant species that show concerning levels of threat are the wild relatives of sugar beet, wheat, oat and lettuce which are economically important crops in Europe.

But there is some positive news and the assessment highlights the success of well-designed conservation measures. Many species protected under the EU Habitats Directive and included in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas now have an improved chance of survival. Centranthus trinervis, a plant endemic to Corsica, has been downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered due to strict protection of its single known site. Additionally, the control of invasive species such as plants, goats and rats for example has benefited the majority of threatened land snails in Madeira over the past 10 years.

“These are encouraging signs that show the benefits of conservation actions supported by strong policy,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “Continued implementation of the current European legislation combined with new conservation programmes is essential to preserve these important native species and their habitats.”

For full details, see and For more information on other European Red Lists, see

EU sounds alarm for threatened freshwater species
BBC News 23 Nov 11;

Many of Europe's freshwater fish and molluscs are now threatened species, a new EU study shows.

The European Commission called for urgent action to preserve the diversity of Europe's wildlife.

Pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and alien species are blamed for the decline in species.

The latest findings are based on a study of some 6,000 species for the European Red List - an assessment of threats to wildlife.

The list of Europe's threatened species includes 44% of all freshwater molluscs, 37% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 19% of reptiles, 15% of mammals and dragonflies and 13% of birds.

The Commission says 467 plant species are also under threat, including wild varieties of crops such as sugar beet, wheat, oats and lettuce. Such species are "vital for food security yet are often neglected in terms of conservation," the Commission says.

The Commission has urged the 27 EU member states to adopt sustainable farming and forestry methods to halt biodiversity loss.
Nature's 'goods and services'

"The well-being of people in Europe and all over the world depends on goods and services that nature provides," said EU Environment Janez Potocnik. "If we don't address the reasons behind this decline and act urgently to stop it, we could pay a very heavy price indeed."

There are some notable successes however for wildlife conservation in Europe.

The EU's Natura 2000 conservation network of protected wildlife areas aims to give endangered species a better chance of survival. Corsica's Centranthus trinervis plant and the land snails on Madeira are showing signs of recovery, the Commission says.

A biodiversity expert at the environmental group Friends of the Earth, Paul de Zylva, says the thriving otter population in the UK is also a success story - a sign that the healthy fish they prey on are abundant in once-polluted rivers.

But many of Europe's water species are suffering, often because their natural habitat is disappearing, he told BBC News.

"Our water resources are a symbol of whether we are getting environmental policies right," he said.
Threat from aliens

Invasive species from other parts of the world often spread through Europe's rivers, he said. Among them are Chinese mitten crabs, Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed. Rivers disperse plant seeds across borders - one reason why co-ordinated European action is necessary, he said.

It is vital for the EU to provide the right financial incentives for farmers to boost nature conservation when a revised Common Agricultural Policy takes effect after 2013, he said.

The Natura 2000 network was expanded this month, taking in an additional 18,800 sq km (7,259 sq miles) - most of that being marine areas.

The UK has added some biodiversity hotspots in the Atlantic, including reefs off Rockall Island.

In the Mediterranean, marine habitats of endangered turtles and monk seals have also been added to the list of more than 26,000 European conservation sites.

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Africa Leads Climate Push As Its People Go Hungry

Katy Migiro PlanetArk 22 Nov 11;

Africa is leading the push for clean energy policy-making as climate change turns millions of its people into "food refugees," the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) Achim Steiner said.

"On the African continent, there is sometimes more leadership being shown by countries, by governments, than we see in some of the industrialized nations," Steiner told Reuters.

"Kenya is currently doubling its energy and electricity generating infrastructure largely using renewables. These are policies that are pioneering, that are innovative," he said.

Kenya generates most of its energy from hydroelectric dams but water levels have fallen due to recurring drought. It is now investing heavily in geothermal and wind power.

The African Development Bank is financing Africa's biggest wind farm on the shores of Lake Turkana, one of the windiest places on Earth. The $819-million project aims to produce 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity per year, boosting Kenya's energy supply by 30 percent.

Toyota and Hyundai are building a fourth geothermal power station in Naivasha, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Nairobi, which will increase geothermal capacity from 115 MW to 395 MW by 2014.

"We see across the continent both a realisation of how threatening climate change really is and also the inevitable necessity that governments have an interest in beginning to put their own development priorities on a different trajectory," said Steiner.

Investments in renewable energy are hitting record levels. In 2010, $211 billion dollars was invested in renewable energy, the majority of it in the developing world, Steiner said.


As the world's poorest continent, Africa is also the most vulnerable to the extreme weather conditions and rising sea levels brought by climate change.

"The consequence of global warming for Africa is one of disruption, of greater vulnerability, higher risks and enormous expenditures to cope with these changes," said Steiner.

In the Horn of Africa, some 13 million people are going hungry due to prolonged drought. In Somalia, the crisis is compounded by conflict.

"The specter of having millions of people being food refugees at the moment is one that simply should not happen," said Steiner. "What we have seen here over the last five, six months I think is a shame for the world."

Time has run out to get a new binding deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in place before the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012.

Expectations are low that U.N. climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, from November 28, will achieve anything more than modest steps toward a broader deal.

The Kyoto Protocol obliges developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent of 1990 levels by the end of 2012.

Scientists say pledges so far to curb emissions will not prevent the planet heating up beyond the two degrees Celsius threshold they say risks more extreme weather, crop failure and major floods. Global average temperatures rose by 0.7C over pre-industrial times during the 20th century.

"The world is facing a situation where the only protocol that it has been able to put in place to address climate change is on the verge of actually being abandoned in Durban and that is a very serious situation," said Steiner.

He estimated that it could take two to five years to reach another global agreement.

The European Union, Russia, Japan and Canada have said they will not sign a second commitment period unless bigger emitters, notably China and the United States, provide firm evidence that they would join too.

"The world is going to pay a terrible price for this standoff and Africa in particular," said Steiner.

(Katy Migiro reports for AlertNet, a global humanitarian news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more stories and information, visit

(Editing by Barry Malone and Janet Lawrence)

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Record High Greenhouse Gases To Linger For Decades

Tom Miles PlanetArk 22 Nov 11;

Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming reached record levels in 2010 and will linger in the atmosphere for decades, even if the world stops emissions output today, the U.N.'s weather agency said on Monday.

Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, rose by 2.3 parts per million to 389 ppm in 2010 from the previous year, higher than the 1990s average (1.5 ppm) and the past decade (2.0 ppm), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

If the world is to limit global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, scientists say emissions volumes must not have more than 450 ppm of carbon dioxide.

"The atmospheric burden of greenhouse gases due to human activities has yet again reached record levels since pre-industrial time," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

"Even if we managed to halt our greenhouse gas emissions today, and this is far from the case, they would continue to linger in the atmosphere for decades to come and so continue to affect the delicate balance of our living planet and our climate," he said.

The report adds to a number of warnings that time is running out to act on climate change and prevent worsening extreme weather as the Earth's temperature rises. BP data earlier this year showed global carbon dioxide emissions grew at their fastest rate since 1969 last year, as countries rebounded from economic recession.

In 2010, countries agreed in Cancun, Mexico, that deep emissions cuts were needed to hold an increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a threshold beyond which scientists say risks even more extreme weather, crop failure and major floods.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries will meet in South Africa next week for a U.N. summit but only modest steps toward a broader climate deal are seen as likely.


The WMO said greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increased by 1.4 percent last year from 2009 and 29 percent since 1990, mainly driven by fossil fuel use and agriculture.

The WMO measured the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, based on monitoring stations in more than 50 countries, including natural emissions and absorption processes - so-called sources and sinks - as well as emissions caused by human activity.

Three of the most dangerous gases, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, were more prevalent in the atmosphere in 2010 than at any time since the industrial revolution.

The second biggest greenhouse gas, methane, has been growing in the past five years after leveling off between 2000 and 2006, for reasons that are not fully understood.

The third biggest greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide, which can trap almost 300 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. Its main human source is the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, which the report said had "profoundly affected the global nitrogen cycle."

The impact of fertilizer use is so marked that more nitrous oxide is detected in the northern hemisphere, where more fertilizer is used, than in the south.

The WMO data showed no pause in the growth of greenhouse gases and more work needs to be done to help understand which policies would have the most effect, the report's authors said.

So far, the clearest discernable impact of policies was a decrease in chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which were banned because they caused depletion of the ozone layer.

But hydrofluorocarbons, which have replaced CFCs, are also potent greenhouse gases and their abundance in the atmosphere, while still small, is rising at a rapid rate.

(Additional reporting and writing by Nina Chestney; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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