Best of our wild blogs: 24 Jun 12

Cyrene again with lots of sea anemones
from wild shores of singapore

Durian season 2012
from Ubin

120621 Cyrene Reef
from Singapore Nature and Terumbu Semakau and Beting Bronok

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MP holds dialogue on wild boars

Inderjit Singh hears Lower Peirce Reservoir residents' concerns about animals in their neighbourhood
Straits Times 24 Jun 12;

About 40 people living near the Lower Peirce Reservoir met their Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh yesterday to discuss how to curb the wild boar population in their neighbourhood.

And a majority at the closed-door session - about 95 per cent - voted in favour of culling the animals.

Mr Singh, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said he arranged the dialogue after hearing from many residents who had spotted the boars in their neighbourhood. His constituents have also become more concerned after one of the animals attacked two people in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park last Friday.

A five-year-old boy was flung into the air when the boar charged at him, and a Cisco officer was also struck down by the same animal.

The incident came about a week after the National Parks Board (NParks) announced that there was a need to manage the wild boar population here because of the rising numbers.

Mr Singh said numerous residents have told him of wild boar sightings in the past few months. The creatures used to restrict themselves to the forested areas near the reservoir.

'It could be that they have run out of food in their natural environment, and came out to forage.'

He said the NParks estimates that there are 100 wild boars in the area, a third of them roaming residential areas. The MP added that he had asked the authorities to find a humane way to control the animals' population.

'We just want to keep the numbers at a manageable level so that they won't create trouble for my residents,' he added.

A man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Teng and has been living near the Lower Peirce Reservoir for three years, said he has seen the wild boars fewer than 10 times.

'They're harmless. They're just out here looking for food. I think the incident at the park was just unusual. Most of the time they are the ones hit by speeding vehicles,' he said.

Cheryl Ong

MP Inderjit Singh hopes wild boar issue can be resolved quickly
Evelyn Lam Channel NewsAsia 23 Jun 12;

SINGAPORE: MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Inderjit Singh, hopes authorities can look for a way to resolve the wild boar issue quickly.

He was speaking to the media after a closed door dialogue with some residents who live near the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, where two wild boars were spotted on Friday.

Several residents have seen the wild boars around Lower Peirce Reservoir.

On Friday, a wild boar reportedly charged at a security guard and a five-year-old boy at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

Some residents are now worried that the wild boars may pose a danger to their personal safety.

But others said it's not a big problem, as long as residents keep their distance from the animals.

Channel NewsAsia understands about 40 people attended the closed door dialogue.

95 per cent of them support the move to reduce the wild boar population.

Apart from residents, there were also representatives from various government agencies.

Mr Inderjit Singh said: "The wild boars have shown that they can attack, so we would have to resolve this quite urgently and that NParks (National Parks Board) gather as much research and information as possible to resolve this quickly.

"It is quite logical to see that the food in the forest must be running out, because the numbers are large so the wild boars are now exploring further away from the jungle area to look for food."

- CNA/ck

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US experts predict higher sea level rise: study

AFP Yahoo News 22 Jun 12;

Global sea levels could rise two to three times higher over the next century than previous UN estimates, according to a study released Friday by the US National Research Council.

A committee of experts evaluated the latest UN data and updated those projections with new data on polar ice-cap melting that is believed to be speeding up sea level rise around the world.

By 2100, the NRC estimates that global sea levels will rise between 20-55 inches (50 and 140 centimeters).

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's projection in 2007 had predicted a fraction of that, at seven to 23 inches (18-59 centimeters) worldwide.

"Our answers are pretty much in line with what others have done except that the IPCC was a little timid in 2007 about the ice contribution, so using more current information about the ice melt we have a bigger contribution there," said Robert Dalrymple, committee chair and professor of civil engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The wide range within each estimate is due to increasing uncertainty about sea level projections as researchers attempt to assess what may happen further and further into the future, the report said.

In the near term, the NRC predicted a global sea level rise of three to nine inches (eight to 23 centimeters) by 2030 (over the 2000 level) and seven to 19 inches (18 to 48 centimeters) by 2050.

The committee was convened by an executive order from the state of California to assess sea level rise in order to inform preparations for coastal impact, and to make detailed predictions for the US West Coast.

The NRC found that the sea level was projected to rise faster than global estimates in much of southern California due to land erosion and subsiding coastline.

But the northern part of the state as well as the coasts of Oregon and Washington could see less of an impact than the rest of the world because of shifts in the Earth that are causing the coasts there to rise, it said.

"The lower sea levels projected for northern California, Washington and Oregon coasts are because the land is rising largely due to plate tectonics," said the report.

"In this region, the ocean plate is descending below the continental plate at the Cascadia Subduction Zone, pushing up the coast."

More severe weather events causing flooding and coastal erosion are expected to accompany higher sea levels, and a major earthquake in northern California could cause a sudden sea level rise of one meter (yard) or more, the report said.

The NRC study was jointly sponsored by the states of California, Washington and Oregon, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Geological Survey.

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Ocean Advocates Find Silver Linings After Rio+20 Disappointment

Although agreement was not reached on policing international waters, some firm commitments were made in Brazil.
Brian Clark Howard For National Geographic News 22 Jun 12;

In an email to National Geographic News from Rio de Janeiro, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle said of the ongoing UN Conference on Sustainable Development, "Concerning oceans, there is reason to suggest that the outcomes could be characterized as Rio+20 minus 40."

Earle's words sum up the buzz in the halls of Riocentro—the massive suburban conference center that has hosted tens of thousands of delegates, activists, and journalists this week—as well as among the thousands of protesters that have taken the streets around the Marvelous City.

Still, Earle pointed out, "It is not all bad news, just discouraging to hear the French ambassador say that the will of 183 countries concerning developing a framework for governance of the high seas had come unglued owing to opposition from a small number of powerful countries."

Earle is referring to the United States, Russia, Canada, and Venezuela in particular, who, according to reports, moved to block specific rulemaking on environmental protections in international waters during late-night, closed-door negotiations earlier this week.

Expressing his disappointment, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, told the Guardian, "What kept Greenpeace in the [Rio+20 negotiations] was that it looked like we could get a decent deal on the oceans, but we have now got a really watered-down text that has very little teeth."

Earle said she believes the U.S. government is resistant to start negotiations on a new international oceans treaty, since there has been recent movement to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, an international agreement that went into effect in 1994 but counts the U.S. as one of a handful of holdout countries. The Law of the Sea Treaty does include some environmental guidelines, but not as many specific protections as Earle would like.

Earle added that the U.S. also has concerns about fishing interests and is worried about the United Nations gaining authority over U.S. interests, although, she said, the aim of Rio+20 talks was not to put the high seas under UN jurisdiction, but to establish a framework for international governance.

"Presently the High Seas, nearly half the planet, is like the Wild West, and a few industrial fishers from a few countries are wrecking entire ecosystems and depleting species already in serious trouble," said Earle. "In my remarks [at a Rio+20 panel discussion] yesterday, I used [IUCN marine protected areas expert] Dan Laffoley's comment that we should call this a 'Half the Earth summit,' since the blue half—the high seas—are being seriously neglected."

Also speaking to National Geographic News from Rio, Susan Lieberman, deputy director of international policy for Pew Environment Group, said, "We came to Rio with high expectations for action to address the ocean crisis. For a once-in-a-decade meeting where so much was at stake, Rio was a far cry from a resounding success. The lack of progress on managing the high seas, which can and will only be addressed through international action, is discouraging and should have been dealt with here and now.

"It is frankly astonishing that world leaders all agreed this is a major problem needing an international, coordinated solution and then deferred any decision on action for another two and a half years. The future of life in the sea does not need more bureaucratic infighting," said Lieberman.

Some Progress Made

Still, Lieberman saw some positive developments in Rio. "The final-outcome document contains good recommendations on ending overfishing, taking action to stop illegal fishing, phasing out harmful subsidies, eliminating destructive fishing practices, and protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems," she said.

Lieberman added that there was a decision to make regulating the catch of commercial species like tuna more transparent, although it will be up to governments to put those regulations into place.

National Geographic's Earle said, "The good news is that the Rio+20 conference may be more important for the enhanced exposure given to ocean issues and other topics not covered 20 years ago," during the first Earth Summit in Rio. "Meetings over coffee, on the transport buses, and in hallways, bars, and beaches are likely to be more meaningful concerning policies that will endure than all of the exquisitely orchestrated formalities."

Earle pointed to major commitments from the Maldives and Australia for large protected areas within their exclusive economic zones.

She also pointed to the high amount of public participation in Rio+20, including the fact that people from 163 countries submitted nearly a million and a half votes online about environmental issues they wanted to see discussed.

"The conference has been a celebration of knowing that nature matters—for business, industry, health, security, and every breath we take, every drop of water we drink," said Earle. "Whether the political leaders endorse what the people are saying or not is not as important as the lift this conference has given to the growing awareness that the planet has limits."

Earle added that 20 years ago scientists did not have nearly as much data or insight about the environment. She called the current moment a "sweet spot," and warned that it will soon be too late to take action to reverse the increase of carbon dioxide, ocean acidification, ocean dead zones, deforestation, plastic pollution, mass extinctions, and so on.

"Too Big to Fail"

Earle said a highlight of the dialogues on oceans she participated in this week in Rio was when one panelist said, "We have to get over the idea that the ocean is 'too big to fail'"—that it will survive and thrive no matter what.

She added that ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau said there are just three things that will save the ocean and ourselves: "Education, education, education!"

One panelist, concerned that fishing interests were under-represented, asked anyone in the audience who made their living as a fishermen to stand up.

No one did. But then Earle asked all of the fish in the audience to please stand up. "We were determining their fate, after all, but I didn't see them at the table. Only on the table," Earle reflected.

Pews Lieberman told National Geographic News, "I wouldn't call Rio a total failure, because a large number of countries recognize the need for international management of the sea, and there were commitments to deal with some of the key issues that are accelerating the deterioration of the marine environment."

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Rio+20, the unhappy environmental summit

Bradley Brooks Associated Press Yahoo News 23 Jun 12;

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — It was hard to find a happy soul at the end of the Rio+20 environmental summit.

Not within the legion of bleary-eyed government negotiators from 188 nations who met in a failed attempt to find a breakthrough at the United Nations conference on sustainable development.

Not among the thousands of activists who decried the three-day summit that ended late Friday as dead on arrival. Not even in the top U.N. official who organized the international organization's largest-ever event.

"This is an outcome that makes nobody happy. My job was to make everyone equally unhappy," said Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of the conference, nicely summing up the mood.

In the end, this conference was a conference to decide to have more conferences.

That result was hailed as a success by the 100 heads of state who attended. Given how environmental summits have failed in recent years as global economic turmoil squashes political will to take on climate and conservation issues, the mere fact of agreeing to talk again in the future constitutes victory.

Faced with the real prospect of complete failure, negotiators who struggled for months to hammer out a more ambitious final document ended up opting for the lowest common denominator. Just hours before the meeting opened Wednesday, they agreed on a proposal that makes virtually no progress beyond what was signed at the original 1992 Earth Summit, removing the kind of contentious proposals activists contend are required to avoid an environmental meltdown.

"We've sunk so low in our expectations that reaffirming what we did 20 years ago is now considered a success," said Martin Khor, executive director of the Geneva-based South Centre and a member of the U.N. Committee on Development Policy.

Indeed, the word "reaffirm" is used 59 times in the 49-page document titled "The Future We Want." They reaffirm the need to achieve sustainable development (but not mandating how); reaffirm commitment to strengthening international cooperation (just not right now); and reaffirm the need to achieve economic stability (with no new funding for the poorest nations).

Some of the biggest issues activists wanted to see in the document that didn't make it in included a call to end subsidies for fossil fuels, language underscoring the reproductive rights of women, and some words on how nations might mutually agree to protect the high seas, areas that fall outside any national jurisdictions.

"We saw anything of value in the early text getting removed one by one. What is left is the clear sense that the future we want is not one our leaders can actually deliver," said Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo. "We now need to turn the anger people around the world are feeling into creative, thoughtful and meaningful action."

On the "glass half full" side of things, while the effort to make progress on multilateral talks among the collective U.N. body were a disappointment, the big gathering produced nearly 700 promises and advances made by individual countries, companies and other organizations, in total worth about $500 billion if actually followed through

For instance, the U.S. agreed to partner with more than 400 companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca- Cola and Unilever, to support their efforts to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by 2020.

Andrew Deutz, director of international government relations at the Nature Conservancy, pointed out that Indonesia, Australia and Colombia all made strong commitments to protecting oceans in their national waters, in part to ensure future food security.

"Monday morning, the challenge will be to go back home and hold governments and companies accountable for the commitments they made here and help them get things done," he said.

Despite the shifting global economic order, with the rise of nations like Brazil and China and a host of other "middle-income" countries, critics said negotiators still argued along the lines of old "north-south" arguments that pit richer developed nations against developing nations.

The Group of 77 nations that represents the poorest on the globe maintained their demand that richer nations in Europe and the U.S. recognize their "historic debt" eating up a much greater amount of the globe's resources since the industrial revolution began 250 years ago. They say rich nations should finance environmental improvements in the poorer nations, and also freely transfer technology that would help the developing nations use more renewable energy and build cleaner industrial sectors.

"Everything has been kicked down the lane a few years, we'll have to wait to formalize sustainable development goals and make the transition to a green economy," said Muhammed Chowdhury, a lead negotiator of Group of 77. "It's not a good scenario."

However, a U.S. delegate member said that countries can no longer debate issues with an eye on the past, that once poor nations are becoming rich, and that anybody looking for the Rio+20 summit to somehow reach a magical agreement and solve complicated environmental and development challenges would be sorely disappointed.

"I think the expectation that there is one document or one approach that can solve one of the major questions of our time — how do you maintain economic growth and protect the environment? — there's not one paper that can do that," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones.

"This is a process. We have to embrace it as a process, look at the positive things we have done, and keep working, as there is much more to do."

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