Best of our wild blogs: 17 Jun 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [10 - 16 Jun 2013]
from Green Business Times

Half-Day Chek Jawa Walk
from Pulau Ubin Tour with Justin

animal snippets @ chek jawa - Jun2013
from sgbeachbum

Little Spiderhunter calling
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Lesser Banded Hornet
from Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Haze situation expected to worsen

Martin Carvalho, Lee Yen Mun and Nicholas Cheng The Star 17 Jun 13;

PETALING JAYA: The haze, which is affecting several parts of the country, is set to worsen with hotter and drier weather expected over the next few months.

The air quality in six towns in the peninsula dropped to unhealthy levels, based on the Air Pollutant Index (API), compared with just three on Saturday.

The Department of Environment (DOE) detected unhealthy API readings of 100 and above in Malacca (161), Bukit Rambai (135), Port Klang (104), Port Dickson (120), Muar (125) and Kemaman (108).

However, the quality of air at most other places in the country was between good and moderate.

Under the air quality index, readings of between 0 and 50 are classified as Good, 51 to 100 as Moderate, 101 to 200 as Unhealthy, 201 to 300 as Very Unhealthy and 300 and above as Hazardous.

In Malacca, the haze caused the API reading to increase from 68 to 161 over the past three days, the highest recorded in the country.

DOE director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said the number of hot spots detected by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre in Sumatra, Indonesia, had increased from 46 on Friday to 101 on Saturday.

She attributed the haze to smoke from the hot spots in Sumatra being carried here by westerly monsoon winds, which began in early June.

“If the hot spots continue to increase and the direction of winds remains as it is, the situation could worsen,” she said.

She said the haze was a trans-border issue that required joint efforts by Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia through the Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

“The ministers are scheduled to meet in Kuala Lumpur sometime in August to discuss action plans to tackle the problem,” she said.

A Malaysian Meteorological Depart­­ment spokesman said the westerly monsoon, forecast to last until September, was expected to bring drier and hotter days with occasional thunderstorms in the evenings.

The temperature is expected to rise to between 34°C and 36°C during the period with the urban areas feeling more of the heat because of buildings and the lack of surrounding greenery.

“During the hot and dry spell, people are advised to drink more water and avoid exposure to direct sunlight,” the spokesman said.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam advised Malaysians to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.

“We are monitoring the situation and will issue appropriate advisories based on the air quality levels.

“For now, members of the public, especially those with respiratory problems, should keep away from prolonged outdoor activities,” he said.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said his ministry was monitoring the situation closely.

“We will make the appropriate announcement when deterioration of the air quality becomes a health risk to students,” he said.

Medical officer Dr Norlen Mohamed, who specialises in community medicine, said the effects of haze on health were associated with the severity of air quality status and health conditions of individuals.

She said possible health effects include irritation in the eyes, skin and throat, breathing difficulties, upper respiratory tract infections and even heart attacks.

Air at unhealthy level in 5 towns
Hana Naz Harun and Hanis Maketab New Straits Times 17 Jun 13;

STAY INDOORS: 101 hotspots in Sumatra worsen haze in Klang Valley and other states

KUALA LUMPUR: THE air quality in five towns was recorded as "unhealthy", with Air Pollutant Index (API) readings above 100 recorded yesterday after the haze returned in the peninsula on Saturday.

The Department of Environment (DOE) website listed API readings from 52 air quality monitoring stations recorded at 5pm yesterday, with unhealthy levels in Malacca city (API 161), Bukit Rambai, Malacca (API 135), Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan (API 120), Kemaman, Terengganu (API 108) and Port Klang, Selangor (API 103).

At 11am yesterday, the API reading at Muar, Johor, was at 110, but conditions improved when the API levels decreased to 86 at 5pm.

Other areas in the peninsula showed good and moderate API readings. The API reading is "good" when the reading is between zero and 50, "moderate" (51 to 100), "unhealthy" (101 to 200), "very unhealthy" (201 to 300) and "hazardous" (above 300).

It is based on the average daily concentrations of air pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and dust particulates.

A satellite image by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed 101 hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia, contributing to the haze, compared with only 46 hotspots on Friday.

DOE director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said the haze was also caused by the westerly monsoon season, with winds blowing from central Sumatra.

Peat fire was detected in some areas in Selangor, namely in Kampung Busut Baru, Pulau Kempas in Mukim Tanjung Dua Belas, Kuala Langat North district and Kuala Langat South Forest Reserve.

Halimah said there were still patches of smoke in the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve along the Elite Highway.

"The situation in all these areas is under control and does not contribute to the increase in API in Klang Valley."

She added that no other fires were detected in regions with increased API readings at unhealthy levels in Kemaman, Port Dickson, , Bukit Rambai, Malacca City and Muar.

The department advised the public not to carry out open burning and alert the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or DOE at 1-800-88-2727 if there was a fire.

In Malacca, state DOE director Abd Hafiz Abd Samad advised people to stay indoors and drink plenty of water.

"Children or those who have medical conditions such as asthma should seek medical attention as soon as possible if they experience any breathing difficulty or discomfort."

Hafiz added that the state DOE had set up a team to monitor areas where open burning regularly occurred. Checks by the New Straits Times found visibility in Malacca was about 3km.

In Muar, the hazy condition in the Straits of Malacca improved yesterday following clear and sunny skies.

During its peak last week, the haze had reduced visibility at sea to less than 500m and hit hundreds of fishing villages in Johor's west coast.

Koh Tee Tee, 46, of Parit Jawa fishing village, said visibility had improved to about a nautical mile, but his catch was still poor.

Muar-Batu Pahat Fishermen's Association president Ser Boon Huat said the price of fish had increased by almost 100 per cent.

"I have also received complaints from fishermen of painful watery eyes, runny nose, cough, fever and vomiting when exposed to the haze."

Ser advised fishermen to take heed of the Meteorological Department advisories before venturing out to sea, adding that they had to be prepared for more haze from forest fires in Sumatra in view of the hot season. Additional reporting by Chong Chee Seong

Haze looms over region as hot spots multiply
Pollution soars to unhealthy levels in Malaysia as Sumatra fires rage
Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta And Yong Yen Nie Malaysia Correspondent In Kuala Lumpur
Straits Times 17 Jun 13;

SMOKE from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, caused air pollution to hit unhealthy levels in several places on the Malaysian peninsula, with conditions worsening considerably yesterday.

In Singapore, readings on the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) stayed in the moderate range yesterday.

The three-hour PSI reading peaked at 4pm, when it reached 81 - slightly below last Friday's high of 88. Levels above 100 are considered unhealthy.

The Meteorological Service of Singapore said there were 138 hot spots in Sumatra - the highest number in at least the past month.

In the Indonesian coastal city of Dumai, Riau, one of the urban areas closest to the fires, visibility was around 50m only, according to the MetroTV news channel.

Motorists drove with their headlights on during the day, and police officers distributed face masks to residents - some of whom complained of breathing difficulties - as the haze became thicker yesterday.

The hot spots in Riau, with peat and forest fires, were scattered across several regencies.

In Rokan Hilir, Environmental Impact Management Agency head Murni Wati said officials had recorded 33 hot spots in the regency in recent days.

To prevent new hot spots from developing, the agency and district chiefs will tell residents about the hazards of clearing land by burning.

Indonesia's Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency analyst Warih Lestari told Antara news agency yesterday that the number of hot spots in Riau will grow if the dry weather continues.

Malaysia's Department of Environment (DOE) said readings on the Air Pollution Index (API) at 5pm yesterday showed five places monitored on the peninsula had "unhealthy" pollutant levels of between 103 and 161.

They were Malacca town, Bukit Rambai in Malacca, Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan, Port Klang in Selangor and Kemaman in Terengganu.

On Saturday, three places showed up in the unhealthy band.

None of these places had such unhealthy air pollution levels three days ago.

The places affected are located mainly on the west coast, except for Kemaman which is situated on the east coast.

Other places in Peninsular Malaysia saw a general increase in their API readings as well, with most of the 52 places monitored showing "moderate" air quality.

In Kuala Lumpur, the API reading hit 92, putting it just below the "unhealthy" mark.

The haze was carried across the region by winds that are part of the westerly monsoon season.

PSI reading remains in moderate range
Kimberly Spykerman Channel NewsAsia 16 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE: The PSI reading, which measures the haze, was at 81 at 4pm on Sunday. At 7pm, it dipped to 70.

Sunday's readings are an improvement over Friday's, when the PSI climbed to over 85 after 2pm.

Any reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Friday that the haze and burning smell are from fires in Sumatra.

NEA said 85 hotspots were detected on 6 June 2013, over Sumatra.

Winds from the southwest or west during the current southwest monsoon season had also brought the haze to Singapore.

NEA said Singapore has been affected by slight haze since June 13.

- CNA/xq

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NEA monitoring new technologies for possible use

Straits Times Forum 17 Jun 13;

WE THANK Mr Lim Boon Hee ("Dengue epidemic: More aggressive measures needed"; last Tuesday) for his interest.

The National Environment Agency's (NEA's) Environmental Health Institute is actively monitoring the development of new technologies in vector control, and evaluating the applicability of each technology in the context of our highly urbanised environment.

Mr Lim refers to trials on genetically manipulated mosquitoes, such as the one from Oxitec UK that releases sterile male Aedes mosquitoes to mate with females in the field, and causes a population reduction as the progeny will not mature to adults.

Thus far, preliminary results from field trials suggest some level of success in population suppression.

However, its impact on dengue transmission has not been demonstrated and our unique circumstances (highly urbanised environment, comparatively low levels of adult mosquitoes, and low herd immunity to dengue) requires careful evaluation to ensure such novel approaches can achieve a demonstrable impact on dengue, without negatively impacting our natural ecology.

The NEA advocates source reduction and the removal of potential breeding habitats through environmental management. In areas that cannot be reached, the NEA has been using Bti, a bacteria toxin that kills mosquito larvae.

The use of certain species of fish to eat up mosquito larvae was also raised by Mr Lim.

This is common in places where rainwater is collected in big pots for domestic use in lieu of piped water.

However, its use is not feasible in Singapore except in ponds. It is difficult to maintain a population of fish in our drains, as they are designed to channel water into our canals, water catchments or to the sea, and water found in drains is thus relatively transient.

We have also recently shared our stepped up efforts to address the dengue situation, such as eliminating adult mosquitoes through the indoor application of insecticides.

We will continue to monitor the progress of these novel technologies through close collaboration with the research community.

As the majority of breeding spots are found in homes, we encourage the community's concerted action to remove mosquito breeding habitats.

Ng Lee Ching (Dr)
Director, Environmental Health Institute
National Environment Agency

More aggressive measures needed
Straits Times Forum 11 Jun 13;

I SUGGEST that the National Environment Agency (NEA) implement other methods, such as biological control measures, to control the present dengue epidemic.

The current system of fogging and eradicating breeding grounds seems to be ineffective, if the 9,000 cases and two deaths are any indication ("60-year-old man 2nd person to die of dengue this year"; yesterday).

Malaysia mated genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes with females to produce no offspring or ones with shorter lives, in hopes of curtailing the mosquito population. Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever.

Genetically altered sterile male mosquitoes were also set loose by scientists in a 40-acre region in the Cayman Islands between May and October 2010. By the end of the trial, mosquito numbers in that area dropped by 80 per cent compared with a neighbouring area where no sterile mosquitoes were released.

Releasing guppies is also an effective biological agent used in India to control mosquitoes in different habitats.

These fish have adapted to the sewage drain conditions and are involved in regulating the populations of different species of pest and vector mosquitoes.

The NEA has to be more aggressive in its fight against dengue fever. It should consider using biological agents to control Aedes mosquitoes as the present control measures appear to be ineffective and inadequate.

Lim Boon Hee

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Ordinary man has not gone the extra green mile

Mak Kum Weng Today Online 17 Jun 13;

I remember an extremely hot day after work when I walked past the patch of greenery behind Ngee Ann City and was greeted by wafts of fresh cool air.

Natural areas and secondary forests, in particular, are extremely useful for removing pollutants in the air and reducing surrounding temperatures.

Studies have also shown that natural forestry contains much more biodiversity than man-made parks.

As Singapore leaps into its next phase of development amid the backdrop of global warming, sustainability is a big issue.

There are splashy campaigns on the green movement but I do not feel that the ordinary man has gone the extra mile.

Plastic bags and refuse are still being generated at an alarming rate. How many people will bear the slight inconvenience of bringing their own shopping bags to the supermarket? I want to recycle my used batteries, but it was not easy finding out where to do so.

Our urban redevelopment plans have swathes of green on the map. What we do not see is the detriment to biodiversity from land reclamation, noise pollution, increasing carbon emissions, and so on.

As Singapore starts to consider quality of life over gross domestic product, can the ordinary man enjoy a cooler, lusher environment, with birds chirping and wafts of cool, renewed oxygen, that is available to those privileged enough to live near patches of forest? Or will the simple bliss that nature brings become another issue that divides the classes?

For all you know, the cure for cancer and dengue fever might be found in one of our secondary forests or marine environments.

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Malaysia: New way to keep track of orangutan

Arman Ahmad New Straits Times 17 Jun 13;

FIRST IN THE WORLD: Primates in Tabin forest site embedded with special devices to help in conservation work

LAHAD DATU: A NEW tracking device that can be embedded into the orangutan is revolutionising the way the animals are tracked and will soon help researchers understand how to help the primates survive in the jungles of Sabah.

The Tabin Orangutan Project (TOP), which is co-managed by Orangutan Appeal UK, a United Kingdom-based non-governmental organisation, and the Sabah Wildlife Department, is the first in the world to use the embedded-type tracking device on the orangutan.

Previous attempts to track orangutan with collars and other tracking devices were not successful because the animals were adept at removing them.

Each device cost E350 (RM1,454) and has enough power in its battery to last a few years. Data had been collected using the devices since 2010, said primatologist James Robins, who heads TOP. Robins is currently tracking eight orangutan and half of them are females.

"One of our orangutan just gave birth a few weeks ago and we are now tracking both mother and child. Both are doing well."

He said there was a misconception that conservation work was over the moment captured or displaced orangutan were rehabilitated and released into the wild.

"Nobody knows what happens to them after that because it is hard to follow them. This is the purpose of this study," he said.

The data collected will be used to publish a series of papers, which would discuss everything from their feeding to ranging behaviours.

This will then serve as a blueprint for forestry and wildlife departments in countries with orangutan populations to rehabilitate the primates. Robins said the team tracked the released orangutan every day as they roamed the jungle.

"Currently, all eight of our orangutan have been implanted with the tracking device. We follow them from 5.30am, when they leave their nest, until they make a new nest for the night around 6.30pm, before we return to camp."

He said the orangutan had lost much of their habitat to deforestation. The food quality in Tabin, which is a secondary forest, was also less nutritious.

"It's all about their diet. Food like ginger and rattan do not give enough energy since these animals spend the entire day foraging."

It was estimated that there were now about 1,400 orangutan in Tabin and 11,000 in the whole of Sabah.

Robins said Sabah had a stable environment for the orangutan compared with other countries.

"If I were an orangutan, I would want to be in Sabah."

Most of the deforestation in Sabah had happened in the past, he added.

Before man began encroaching on the forests, Robins said there could have been hundreds of thousands of orangutan in Borneo.

He said one way to ensure that orangutan populations grew was to join the pockets of forest in Sabah into a central forest spine. This would allow the orangutan to roam throughout the state and breed, allowing better genetic diversity.

"It will be the biggest factor in increasing population growth."

Four-wheel-drive vehicle manufacturer Land Rover, which is part of the Sime Darby Group, had played a big role in helping Robins.

They used their own "Approved Permit" to import a Land Rover Defender donated by Orangutan Appeal UK for TOP to use in Sabah.

Land Rover also donated RM16,500 to TOP for its research.

Land Rover managing director Syed Mudzhar Syed Ali said the sponsorship was given to assist in logistics and tracking exercises involving the orangutan.

Speaking to journalists in Tabin last week, he said the company was committed to helping ensure the survival of the orangutan.

"Land Rover is returning to the Tabin reserve after our first visit last year, when our donation was used for the construction of an extension to the research base.

"Our return this time around is further testament of Land Rover's commitment and concern for wildlife conservation in this country. This initiative also allows us to raise the level of awareness on this protected species and the importance of creating an environment that enables their continued existence for centuries to come."

The orangutan is one of nine animals under the Sime Darby Group conservation efforts carried out through its foundation, Yayasan Sime Darby.

Syed Mudzhar said last year, the company brought in its customers from Sabah to visit Tabin.

"In the future, we are looking at bringing in our customers from across the country to visit Tabin. We are hoping that our high profile customers will help spread the message of orangutan conservation."

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Great Barrier Reef on the brink as politicians bicker

Environment minister Tony Burke says the government has done its best to stop downgrading of UN heritage status
Oliver Milman 16 Jun 13;

The federal government insists it is striving to avoid the Great Barrier Reef being listed "in danger" ahead of a crunch UN meeting, after rejecting a Senate recommendation to block new port developments near the World Heritage ecosystem.

The world heritage committee begins an 11-day conference in Cambodia this week, where the UNESCO body will review the status of various prized ecological areas.

The committee is expected to recommend that the Great Barrier Reef, which has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1981, be placed on the "in danger" list next year due to concerns over coal and gas expansion, increased shipping and water quality.

A draft World Heritage report produced in May noted "concern" over water quality monitoring and the lack of a "a clear commitment toward limiting port development to existing port areas". Unless "urgent and decisive action" was taken, the reef should be considered in danger, it said.

The federal environment minister, Tony Burke, told Guardian Australia improvements made since May showed the government was committed to safeguarding the Reef.

"I'm certainly hopeful that we can get some progress on what was in the draft report," he said. "We committed a further $200 million for Reef Rescue in the budget, which was since the report. That's one clear example of where they've expressed concern over water quality and we've acted.

"It'll be presumptuous to say what the world heritage committee will decide but I'm confident that we have evidence to show that Australia takes management of the reef seriously."

But Burke said the government would not support a Senate committee recommendation that a temporary halt be placed on new port developments in Queensland until an assessment, conducted by both state and federal governments, is released in 2015.

The committee, which considered a bill introduced by Greens senator Larissa Waters, said in its report that existing regulations "may not be sufficient to protect the Great Barrier Reef's outstanding values".

Burke said the move was unnecessary as there were no new developments planned before 2015. He said it was not straightforward to fulfill UNESCO's key recommendation of banning substantial new infrastructure outside existing port areas.

"I will follow the process properly, under law," he said. "If I pre-judge applications, it'll get thrown out in court. [UNESCO] understands the limits we have under Australian law. It's a nuanced situation.

"But they also understand that nothing has since been approved in pristine areas, and none was more sensitive than the proposed Xstrata development on Balaclava Island, which was cancelled after the draft report."

It is understood that several World Heritage delegates have been dismayed by what they see as a politicisation of the reef, with Burke involved in a series of public ructions with the Queensland government over the management of the vast coral ecosystem.

Last week, Queensland's deputy premier, Jeff Seeney, said Burke had been "held ransom" by "radical Greens".

"Mr Burke is beholden to the Greens who feed him dishonest and deceitful assertions about our government's actions," Seeney said. "It's time Mr Burke represented every person in this state, rather than those he believes will keep the Gillard government in power."

But Burke has also come under fire from the Greens and environmental groups, who accuse him of doing little to safeguard the reef and caving into the demands of the mining industry, with eight ports planned or expanded during his tenure.

Burke told Guardian Australia: "I find some of the political points quite bewildering. Jeff Seeney's comments were just odd, certainly one of the weirder moments in Australian politics. I can't understand what was going on in his head when he launched that diatribe.

"Larissa Waters, the Greens and Greenpeace are, in a large part, using the reef as a proxy for an anti-coal campaign. Those groups say the best way to limit emissions is to price carbon and then they ask for a regulatory mechanism too. They can't have it both ways."

Waters said it would be a "disaster" if the reef was placed on the "in danger" list, alongside sites predominantly found in developing or war-torn countries.

"Tony Burke isn't acting like an environment minister," she said. "He says a lot of strong things and then doesn't deliver.

"The UNESCO report was clear that there should be no new ports but there are no state or Commonwealth moves to limit these ports. Responsibility lies on both sides so it's farcical to see them pointing the finger at each other.

"It's amazing that it had to come down to me, a new member of the Senate, to draft a bill to protect the seventh wonder of the world because the government won't do it.

"The world heritage committee aren't idiots. This is their area of expertise. I imagine the Australian delegation will be pressuring other delegates to water down the criticism because it's embarrassing."

The reef faces a number of threats, including chemicals that flow onto it from agricultural land, a plague of crown-of-thorns starfish and climate change, which has been blamed for an increase in coral bleaching and severe weather events such as cyclones, which further damage the ecosystem.

Another potential risk is the dredging of the seabed to allow ships access to new ports. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recently warned MPs that the impact of dumping dredging spoil onto the reef could be worse than previously thought.

The reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 27 years, the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences says. Last week, 150 Australian and international scientists signed a letter warning the reef was in crisis and required urgent action to protect it.

The Queensland environment minister, Andrew Powell, told Guardian Australia the state government's policy was consistent with UNESCO's demand for ports to be kept to existing areas.

"The Newman government firmly believes that we can have sustainable economic development and strong environmental protection – the two concepts are not mutually exclusive," he said.

"The Newman government is aware of the potential impacts of dredging which is one of the many reasons why we scaled back the previous Labor government's crazy proposals for a massive multi-cargo facility at Abbot Point."

"We want to ensure any development occurs in a considered and measured way and as such all development applications are subject to a stringent environmental impact assessment process."

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Beyond NYC: Other places adapting to climate, too

Karl Ritter Associated Press Yahoo News 16 Jun 13;

BONN, Germany (AP) — From Bangkok to Miami, cities and coastal areas across the globe are already building or planning defenses to protect millions of people and key infrastructure from more powerful storm surges and other effects of global warming.

Some are planning cities that will simply adapt to more water.

But climate-proofing a city or coastline is expensive, as shown by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's $20 billion plan to build floodwalls, levees and other defenses against rising seas.

The most vulnerable places are those with the fewest resources to build such defenses, secure their water supplies or move people to higher ground. How to pay for such measures is a burning issue in U.N. climate talks, which just wrapped up a session in the German city of Bonn.

A sampling of cities around the world and what they are doing to prepare for the climatic forces that scientists say are being unleashed by global warming:


ROTTERDAM, Netherlands. In a country where two-thirds of the population lives below sea level, the battle against the sea has been a matter of life and death for centuries.

The Dutch government devotes roughly 1 percent of its annual budget to its intricate system of dikes, dunes and sea walls. Improvements to cope just with the effects of climate change have been carried out since 2003 — though planning began well before that.

The focus in the 20th century was on a spectacular series of sea defenses, including massive steel and concrete barriers that can be quickly moved to protect against storm surges.

But current techniques embrace a philosophy of "living with water:" Floods are inevitable, and it's better to prepare for them than to build ever-higher dikes that may fail catastrophically.

Thousands of waterways are being connected so the country can essentially act as one big sponge and absorb sudden influxes of water. Some areas have been designated as flood zones. Houses that can float have been a building sensation.

Along the coast, the country has been spouting huge amounts of sand in strategic locations offshore and allowing the natural motion of waves to strengthen defensive dunes.


VENICE, Italy. Sea level rise is a particular concern for this flood-prone city. It's in the process of realizing an expensive and oft-delayed system of underwater barriers that would be raised in the event of flooding over 43 inches (110 centimeters), higher than the 31-inch (80-centimeter) level that floods the famed St. Mark's Square.

Venice, a system of islands built into a shallow lagoon, is extremely vulnerable to rising seas because the sea floor is also sinking.

The constant flooding puts the city's considerable architectural treasures at risk. Venice has experienced 10 events over 4 feet 7 inches (140 centimeters) since 1950, including a devastating 1966 flood. Plans for the new so-called Moses barriers will cost more than 4 billion euros. The first of these have been moved into place in recent days. Many Venetians remain skeptical of the project due to the high costs and concerns over environmental risks.


LONDON. The low-lying capital of a perpetually soggy country, London has long been vulnerable to flooding — particularly when powerful storms send seawater racing up the River Thames.

But Londoners already have a powerful flood defense: the 570-yard-long (half-a-kilometer-long) Thames Barrier, composed of 10 massive steel gates, each five stories high when raised against high water.

Some have called for Thames Barrier — in operation since 1982 — to be replaced or supplemented by an even more ambitious flood defense system farther down the river. But Britain's Environment Agency says the defenses should hold until 2070.

Meanwhile, environmentally conscious Londoners have made plans to battle some of the other predicted effects of global warming by promoting better water management, expanding the city's Victorian sewage network, and "urban greening" — the planting of trees and rooftop gardens to help manage the urban heat island effect.


MIAMI. Southern Florida is one of those places that show up as partially under water in many sea level projections for this century. So it's no surprise local leaders are seeking ways to adapt. Four counties of South Florida, including Miami-Dade, have collaborated on a regional plan to respond to climate change. Their overarching goal: keeping fresh water inland and salt water away.

The first action plan calls for more public transportation, stemming the flow of seawater into freshwater, and managing the region's unique ecosystems so they can adapt.

Before writing the plan, the counties reviewed regional sea level data and projected a rise of 9 to 24 inches (23 to 61 cm) in the next 50 years along a coastline that already has documented a rise of 9 inches over the last 100 years.

"The rate's doubled. It would be disingenuous and sloppy and irresponsible not to respond to it," said Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi, who oversees the Florida Keys.


NEW YORK CITY. Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week announced one of the most ambitious plans for defending a major U.S. city from climate change. Recommendations range from installing removable flood walls in lower Manhattan to restoring marshes in Jamaica Bay in Queens, and from flood-proofing homes to setting repair timeframe standards for phone and Internet service providers.

In lower Manhattan, a removable system of posts and slats could be deployed to form temporary flood walls. The height would depend on the ground elevation and potential surge. The approach is used along some Midwestern rivers and in the Netherlands, city officials said.

Projects also include a 15-to-20-foot levee to guard part of Staten Island, building dunes in the Rockaways, building barrier systems of levees and gates to bar one creek from carrying floodwaters inland, and possibly creating a levee and a sizeable new "Seaport City" development in lower Manhattan.


BANGLADESH. A low-lying delta nation of 153 million people, Bangladesh is one of Asia's poorest countries, and one that faces extreme risks from rising sea levels. Its capital, Dhaka, is at the top of a list of world cities deemed most vulnerable to climate change, according to a recent survey by risk analysis company Maplecroft. The World Bank says a sea level rise of 5 inches (14 centimeters) would affect 20 million people living along the country's 440-mile (710-kilometer) coast. Many of these people would be homeless.

Bangladesh is implementing two major projects worth $470 million that involve growing forests on the coastal belt and building more multistory shelters to house people after cyclones and tidal surges. Developed nations have so far provided $170 million to the fund.

"Bangladesh is opting for adapting to the climate change impacts as the world's developed nations are not doing enough to cut down carbon emissions," said Forest and Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud in a recent speech in Dhaka. "We want the donors to contribute more to our efforts."


MALDIVES. The Maldives, an upmarket beach paradise for tourists, has also become a symbol of the dangers of climate change.

Made up of hundreds of islands in the Indian Ocean, it's one of the most low-lying nations in the world, and exceptionally vulnerable to rising seas.

Some scientists have said the Maldives could disappear within decades, and former President Mohamed Nasheed even proposed relocating all 350,000 inhabitants to other countries.

While other researchers say those fears may have been overblown, the country is taking measures to protect itself.

A seawall was built around the capital, Male, after flooding in the 1980s. That wall protected the city from the worst effects of the devastating 2004 tsunami, which temporarily put large swaths of the country under water.

The country's climate adaptation plans call for relocating residents from small vulnerable islands to bigger, better protected ones.

It's also creating new land through land reclamation, expanding existing islands or building new ones, to ease overcrowding. The reclaimed land is being elevated to better withstand rising seas.


BANGKOK, Thailand. Even before the consequences of climate change became evident, scientists were well aware that Bangkok — whose southern suburbs border the Gulf of Thailand — was under serious threat from land subsidence.

Sea level rise projections show Bangkok could be at risk of inundation in 100 years unless preventive measures are taken. But when the capital and its outskirts were affected in 2011 by the worst flooding in half a century, the immediate trigger was water runoff from the north, where dams failed to hold very heavy rains.

Industrial areas in the capital's suburbs, housing important businesses, were devastated. So the focus was put on a short-term solution for that area.

The government recently announced winning bids totaling 290.9 billion baht ($9.38 million) by Chinese, South Korean and Thai firms to run the flood and water management schemes, including the construction of reservoirs, floodways and barriers.

Solutions to the problem of rising seas are still being studied.

"Construction alone is not sustainable," says Seree Supratid, director of a climate and disaster center at Rangsit University. "People have to adapt to nature. For example, you know Bangkok will be flooded by the rising seas in the next 100 years, then you have to learn to build your houses in a way the floodwater cannot reach it, putting it up high or something."


CUBA. Officials recently finished a study of the effects of climate change on this island's 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometers) of coastline, and their discoveries were so alarming they didn't immediately share the results with the public to avoid causing panic.

According to the report, which The Associated Press obtained exclusively, rising sea levels would seriously damage 122 Cuban towns or even wipe them off the map by 2100. Scientists found that miles of beaches would be submerged while freshwater sources would be tainted and croplands rendered infertile. In all, seawater would penetrate up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) inland in low-lying areas, as oceans rose nearly 3 feet (85 centimeters).

Those frightening calculations have spurred systemic action in Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean and one that is heavily dependent on beach-loving European and Canadian tourists. In recent months, inspectors and demolition crews have begun fanning out across the island with plans to raze thousands of houses, restaurants, hotels and improvised docks in a race to restore much of the coast to something approaching its natural state.

In the tourist resort of Varadero, the country faces a dilemma: Tearing down seaside restaurants and hotels threatens millions of dollars in yearly tourism revenue, while allowing them to stay puts at risk the very beaches that are the main draw.


MBEERE, Kenya. While sea level rise threatens some coastal communities in Africa, the continent faces even bigger climate-related problems inland. Climate scientists have projected shifts in rainfall patterns leading to extended droughts in some areas and increased flooding in other parts. To small-scale farming communities, these shifts could be disastrous, adding further stress to scarce water supplies.

Adaptation therefore is focused on learning to cope with the climatic changes, adjusting farming practices and improving water conservation efforts.

In Kenya's Mbeere district, where people say they're noticing longer dry spells, U.K.-based charity group Christian Aid is teaching farmers to help them predict the seasons and know better what to grow and when to plant.

A text messaging system helps farmers get up-to-date weather reports specific to their locations.

"We are supporting them to access and interpret climate information and help them make forward-looking decisions so that their farming is better suited to the predicted changing conditions," said Mohamed Adow, of Christian Aid. "Farmers live off the land and the weather, and small changes to weather patterns can be a big disaster to small-scale farmers in Africa whose entire livelihoods and well-being depend on farming."


Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London, Jennifer Kay in Miami, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok, Paul Haven in Havana and Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy, contributed to this report.

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