Best of our wild blogs: 9 Sep 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [2 - 8 Sep 2013]
from Green Business Times

14 Sep (Sat): Free evening tour for families at Pasir Ris mangroves
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Running allowed at Chek Jawa?
from Peiyan.Photography

Reviving The National Soul
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Trash at Pulau Ubin and fish farms nearby
from wild shores of singapore

Anniversary walk at Chek Jawa
from Peiyan.Photography

Three cuckoos in a day
from Bird Ecology Study Group

African Flame Snail
from Monday Morgue

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Singaporeans must take climate change seriously

Straits Times 9 Sep 13;

LAST Thursday's flood in the western part of Singapore which resulted in the closure of the Ayer Rajah Expressway serves as a timely reminder to all to take climate change seriously ("Flash floods shut down part of AYE for 40 mins"; last Friday).

While Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan affirmed that his ministry would be doing more to alleviate flooding, Singaporeans have to be mindful that this issue could be beyond the Government's ambit.

In recent years, Singapore has been hit by many flash floods, which were unprecedented in terms of scale and damage caused.

Being an island-state, it is a harbinger of a crisis if Singaporeans remain indifferent towards climate change as it threatens our very existence as a country. This is especially so, given that our drainage system is generally well-maintained by national water agency PUB.

The general sense of complacency among Singaporeans towards the environment has to change. Singaporeans have to do their part to mitigate climate change by:

- Recycling. Unfortunately, this is simply too onerous a task for most households. The National Environment Agency should make recycling bins more accessible to encourage recycling.

- Taking along one's own shopping bags. Retailers here dish out plastic bags freely without thought for its impact on the environment. Shoppers who take along their own bags are a rare breed. Perhaps we should emulate Taiwan and charge for plastic bags, to change consumers' behaviour.

- Eating less meat. It is undeniable that meat consumption, and hence, meat production, contributes to most of the greenhouse gas production. While it may not be possible for all to adopt a vegetarian diet, government institutions such as army camps can take the lead by adopting a meat-free day in their cook-houses. A vegetarian diet is a healthier option as well.

- Using less electricity. This can be as simple as switching off the lights when they are not in use.

Singapore has come to a critical juncture where we cannot afford to be apathetic towards climate change. It is clear that we have to adopt a green lifestyle for our survival.

Elgar Lee

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Give these noteworthy spots a new lease of life: Haw Par Villa and Lim Chu Kang beach

Heng Cho Choon Today Online 9 Sep 13;

Mr Chua Sheng Yang had some good suggestions in his letter on how to preserve the Singapore “soul” and “increase our vibrancy as a nation” (“Enough malls, use land for other activities”, Sept 7). I would like to add some noteworthy places in Singapore that are worth preserving to his list.

I hope the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will do something to resurrect Haw Par Villa, which was built in 1937. In its heyday, it drew thousands of tourists daily. Does it have even 50 visitors a day now?

Let us spruce up the place with clean toilets, cafes and a new coat of paint for the statues. Tourists will then, hopefully, make a beeline for it.

Also facing an uncertain future are Singapore’s two remaining dragon kilns: At Thow Kwang Industry and at Focus Ceramic Services. Their leases were set to expire next year and 2015 respectively, but they were given some reprieve with new three-year tenancies that are renewable for another two terms of three years each.

If they eventually are torn down for development, a part of our Chinese culture will sink into oblivion and the next generation will know about such dragon kilns only from their history books.

Another sorely-neglected spot is Lim Chu Kang beach at the end of Lim Chu Kang Road. Near the Police Coast Guard Regional Base is a rickety pier that looks like it might disintegrate at anytime. At low tide, one can see huge amounts of trash that have washed up on the shore.

I hope the National Parks Board (NParks) will do more to spruce up this beach and build some boardwalks similar to those at Chek Jawa. This will bring some life and vibrancy to this part of Singapore.

More effort on the part of the STB, NParks and the National Heritage Board will bring more life and vibrancy to parts of Singapore. It will also help to boost tourism numbers.

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Economic woes may mute impact of U.N. report saying warming manmade

Alister Doyle and Nina Chestney PlanetArk 9 Sep 13;

Economic woes may mute impact of U.N. report saying warming manmade Photo: Jason Lee
Vehicles during a hazy winter day in Beijing January 12, 2013.
Photo: Jason Lee

The strongest scientific warning to date that global warming is man-made may have a muted impact when it is released later this month with many governments more focused on nursing weak economies than on fixing the planet.

Many are also still smarting from a failure to agree a global pact to fight climate change at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009 and wary of making bold promises under a new timetable meant to agree a global U.N. deal in 2015.

Even so, the planned release of a report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Stockholm on September 26 - the main guide for government action - may mark the start of a revival of attention on global warming.

"Climate politics has been in a coma since Copenhagen," said Yvo de Boer, former head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, who led work at Copenhagen and now works at auditors KPMG. "I really hope the report can jolt us out of that coma."

A draft of the IPCC report seen by Reuters, which still has to be reviewed, raises the probability that climate change since the 1950s is mainly caused by human activities to "extremely likely", or at least 95 percent, from "very likely", or over 90 percent, in the last report in 2007.

Past IPCC reports have spurred U.N. talks with ever stronger warnings that greenhouse gases will cause more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas. The impact may be less dramatic this time, partly because climate science is better known.

"Climate change is not taking us by surprise any longer," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme. "The report as such will not be an awakening moment."

But he said the report, the first of four about the climate in the next year, would underscore risks of inaction.

"I think that will be the focus of the public debate. What are we going to do to catch up with the lost time?" he said.


Among past reports, a 1995 IPCC report that concluded it was more than 50 percent likely that mankind was to blame for climate change helped spur talks that led to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting emissions by developed nations.

The 2007 IPCC report spurred two years of negotiations that led to a summit in Copenhagen where world leaders failed to clinch a global deal. Governments agreed two years ago to have another try, giving themselves until 2015.

Todd Stern, U.S. President Barack Obama's climate envoy, said there was "substantial political will" around the world to reach a deal in 2015 for limiting emissions and that "whatever comes out of the IPCC will only accentuate that desire."

"It's too early to say," Stern told Reuters when asked if Washington would reaffirm a 2009 pathway for steep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 42 percent by 2030.

The IPCC will face extra scrutiny after errors were found in the 2007 report, led by an exaggeration of the melt of Himalayan glaciers. A review by outside experts found that the main conclusions were unaffected.

Richard Klein, a senior research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute, said the economic crisis would overshadow the report but remained hopeful that economic recovery could improve the prospects for a global deal in 2015.

Even so, austerity makes it hard for developed nations to keep a promise of increasing aid to developing countries to a promised $100 billion a year by 2020, from $10 billion in 2012.

"An age of austerity has slowed down the international sources of climate finance which are part of a grand bargain," said Rachel Kyte, vice president of the World Bank for sustainable development.

Even though climate change has taken a back seat to the financial crisis, opinion polls indicate it is a top concern.

In a poll by the Pew Research Center in June, 54 percent of almost 40,000 respondents worldwide rated climate change a "major threat", higher than percentages for other worries led by international financial instability and Islamist extremism.

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G20 countries agree to phase down potent greenhouse gas

Valerie Volcovici PlanetArk 9 Sep 13

Leaders attending the Group of 20 summit of the world's biggest economies in St. Petersburg, Russia, agreed on Friday to phase down the use of certain potent greenhouse gases known to damage the climate.

The White House cited the agreement to cooperate on phasing down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases used in refrigerators, air conditioners and some industrial equipment, as one of the "most significant agreements" of the summit.

"This commitment marks an important step forward toward addressing HFCs - highly potent greenhouse gases that are rapidly increasing in use - through the proven mechanism of the Montreal Protocol," the White House said in a fact sheet.

Addressing HFCs also has climate benefits and can reduce as much as 90 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent between now and 2050, the White House said.

The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty established in 1987 that targets the production of various substances known to deplete the earth's ozone layer. The specifics of the agreement will be discussed at the next meeting of the protocol in October in Bangkok.

Separately, China and the United States, the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, agreed to take new steps on an HFC phasedown following there June agreement to cooperate.

The two countries agreed to set up a contact group to explore specific issues such as financial and technology support for developing countries under the Montreal Protocol, an step that marked the start of formal use of the protocol to phase down HFCs.

John Podesta, chairman of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said the U.S.-China move was a milestone in "stepping outside of the historically deadlocked U.N. climate negotiations to tackle HFCs."

President Barack Obama's climate action plan, announced in June, calls on the U.S. to show international leadership on climate change.

Part of the effort involves the United States working with countries to push to include HFCs within the Montreal Protocol.

The administration has also called on countries to stop investing in coal-fired power plants overseas as part of its international climate strategy.

On the eve of the G-20 summit on Wednesday five Scandinavian countries backed Obama's call to end the financing of overseas coal plants.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, editing by Ros Krasny and Jackie Frank)

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