Best of our wild blogs: 13 Nov 13

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Nov: Mandarin & English Tours
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Nov 2013 school hols walks
from Cicada Tree Eco-Place

Sex and the birds: 5. Rape
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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People who feed macaques should be held accountable

Diana Rahim Today Online 13 Nov 13;

The root of the macaque problem in the Central Catchment and Bukit Timah nature reserves is human action. (“Behaviour modification proposed as solution to macaque problem”; Oct 9)

People who consciously break the law and feed the monkeys have caused the monkeys to alter their natural foraging habits and become aggressive.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority stated that the killing of macaques is a “last resort”, but people who have acted in those ways should be held accountable in this issue.

Such killings can be executed easily, without guilt, because the assumption is that human beings have the moral authority to control the animal population for our own comfort.

If, instead, we hold these monkeys in direct and equal consideration, the implications of culling them would be serious. However, they are not seen as such.

This is an age-old tactic even among humans: If one convinces oneself that a group is not as civilised, then one can justify any atrocity against them.

Whether Singaporeans believe these monkeys to be moral beneficiaries, moral agents or simply unworthy of moral consideration, one must concede that humans have to assume at least partial responsibility for a problem that is causing the monkeys unjust suffering.

I am thus grateful that the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society is doing its best to educate the public regarding this issue and trying to avoid the killing of the long-tailed macaques.

To consent to the killings is not only unethical, but also impractical and lazy, considering that human negligence has been a source of the problem.

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Singapore's weather gets hotter each decade

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 12 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's average temperature rose by 0.26 degree Celsius every ten years, from 1951 to 2012.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said this figure is consistent with global trends, and together with the rising sea level, is an example of how Singapore too is seeing the effects of global warming.

Mr Teo was speaking at the National Climate Change Competition awards ceremony on Tuesday morning.

The awards ceremony is organised by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and is into its third year.

It recognises the efforts of youths who play an inspiring role in their actions to address climate change.

This year, the competition attracted some 214 video entries from students in the primary to higher institution level.

Some of the winners include Farrer Park Primary School, Raffles Girls' School and ITE College East.

The NCCS said winners were chosen based on their creativity and original content.

Mr Teo, who is also Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, said the government is taking a proactive approach to climate change.

The country already uses mostly natural gas rather than fuel oil or coal to generate power.This is to reduce carbon emissions and particulate matter.

Apart from encouraging companies to adopt energy efficient technologies, Mr Teo said the government also requires new buildings and retrofitted buildings to receive the Green Mark certification.

But climate change action also includes the public to play a part, as well as outreach and education.

To that end, Mr Teo announced a revamped climate change exhibition at the Science Centre next year.

The S$3 million exhibition is a collaboration that also involves the NCCS and the Meteorological Services Singapore.

Mr Teo said: "The exhibition will also highlight growth opportunities in areas such as climate science and the clean tech sector. As Singapore positions itself as a green growth hub, there will be exciting new options for Singaporeans to pursue studies and careers in these fields.

“You can be at the forefront of climate change action, and have an interesting and good career, and play a part to develop solutions that benefit Singapore and the rest of the world.”

Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, chief executive of Science Centre Singapore, said: "We are also engaging our local scientists from our research institutions, as well as universities as well as our clean tech industry.

“So you will see Singapore's weather patterns being reported, you'll also see some kind of technologies, innovations coming out of Singapore to help us to face the challenge of global warming and sea water rise.

“We will also try to make an effort to reach out to the adults. Some of the older ones may think that well, it doesn't affect me, I won't live that long to see the impact; but the urgency or rather the importance is that all of us should do something, even right now.

“And therefore in our efforts to reach out to the public, we'll probably slant a bit more to the adults, because the kids, they're convinced. They're the converts, so called.”

Associate Professor Lim said the new Climate Change Gallery exhibition is expected to open in the second half of next year.

- CNA/nd

More efforts to heighten awareness of climate change
Kenneth Cheng Today Online 13 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE — More efforts are afoot to heighten awareness of climate change in Singapore as the island nation increasingly feels the heat from the effects of global warming.

The average temperature here has gone up by 0.26°C per decade between 1951 and last year, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday, adding that “this is consistent with global trends”.

“The sea level around Singapore has also risen by 45mm over the past 15 years,” Mr Teo said. He added that, while it does not sound like much, over many years, it has an impact. “Heavy storms have also become more frequent and intense over the past decades.”

Mr Teo was speaking at the award ceremony of the National Climate Change Competition 2013, which aims to inspire students to produce videos that create awareness and spur action on climate change among youth.

Besides the competition, the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) also embarked on several new programmes to raise awareness on climate change among the young. For instance, it rolled out an educational drama for primary schools called Stop Melting My Home in August.

While the Government has implemented measures to mitigate the impact of climate change, Mr Teo said efforts must go beyond those by the Government. “All of us can reduce our carbon footprint and play a part to prepare for the climate challenges ahead.”

At the ceremony, he also announced a S$3-million revamp of the five-year-old Climate Change Exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore.

The new exhibition — a tie-up between the Science Centre, the NCCS and Meteorological Services Singapore — will feature more localised content, such as the Republic’s measures to combat climate change and the technological strides the country has made towards addressing the problem.

Slated to open by the second half of next year, the exhibition will also look at efforts being made around the world to reduce global warming.

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PUB to take measures to reduce ponding along roadside walkways

Melissa Chong Channel NewsAsia 12 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB will install more drop inlet chambers and open gratings for covered drains to minimise water ponding on roadside walkways.

This would hopefully facilitate the flow of water into drains, rather than overflowing onto footpaths.

Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said this in response to a query by Hougang MP Png Eng Huat, who asked if measures were being taken to prepare for heavy thunderstorms.

Dr Balakrishnan added that the PUB will also rectify depressions that had formed along walkways, where rainwater could accumulate during heavy rain.

- CNA/gn

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Rare mammal first sighted in Vietnam in years

Associated Press Yahoo News 13 Nov 13;

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — One of the rarest and most threatened mammals on earth has been caught on camera in Vietnam for the first time in 15 years, renewing hope for the recovery of the species, an international conservation group said Wednesday.

The Saola, a long-horned ox, was photographed by a camera in a forest in central Vietnam in September, the WWF said in a statement Wednesday.

"This is a breath-taking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species," Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF - Vietnam's country director, was quoted as saying.

The animal was discovered in the remote areas of high mountains near the border with Laos in 1992 when a joint team of WWF and Vietnam's forest control agency found a skull with unusual horns in a hunter's home. The find proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years and one of the only seven types of large mammal to be discovered in 20th century.

In Vietnam, the last sighting of a Saola in the wild was in 1998, according to Dang Dinh Nguyen, director of the Saola natural reserve in central province of Quang Nam.

In the area where the Saola was photographed, WWF has recruited forest guards from local communities to remove snares and battle illegal hunting, the greatest threat to Saola's survival, the statement said. The snares were set to largely catch other animals, such as deer and civets, which are a delicacy in Vietnam.

Twenty years after its discovery, little is known about Saola and the difficulty in detecting the elusive animal has prevented scientists from making a precise population estimate.

At best, no more than few hundreds, and maybe only a few dozen, survive the remote, dense forests along the border with Laos, WWF said.

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Haiti, Philippines hardest hit by weather extremes in 2012: study

Alister Doyle and Stian Reklev PlanetArk 13 Nov 13;

Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan were hardest hit by weather disasters in 2012, a report issued at U.N. climate talks on Tuesday showed, as the death toll mounted from the latest typhoon to devastate the Philippines.

Germanwatch, a think-tank partly funded by the German government, said poor nations had suffered most from extreme weather in the past two decades, and worldwide, extreme weather had killed 530,000 people and caused damage of more than $2.5 trillion.

"The unfolding human tragedy caused by super typhoon Haiyan will only be captured in future reports," said Soenke Kreft, a co-author of the report issued on the sidelines of November 11-22 talks among almost 200 nations trying to reach a deal by 2015 to slow global warming.

Super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, slammed into the Philippines on Friday and killed an estimated 10,000 people in one coastal city alone. The toll is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers reach remote areas.

The report for 2012, based on an index of fatalities and economic damage from weather extremes, noted that Haiti was struck by Hurricane Sandy, the Philippines by typhoon Bopha and Pakistan had suffered severe monsoon floods.

A U.N. panel of climate scientists predicts that a build-up of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from human use of fossil fuels, will cause ever more droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels.


Major tropical storms are a hard riddle for climate scientists to solve. Most say it is impossible to put an individual event, such as typhoon Haiyan, down to climate change. However, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says "it is more likely than not" that storms will increase in intensity in the coming century.

One thing is fairly concrete, said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University Climate Change Institute - climate change is causing surface waters to warm, which in turn feeds more energy into storms.

Scientists also say rising sea levels - about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1900 - can worsen storm surges.

Negotiators are in Warsaw to lay the groundwork for a U.N. climate pact, meant to be agreed in 2015 and enter into force from 2020, to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

On Tuesday, about 30 climate activists joined a fast by Philippine Climate Commissioner Naderev Sano, the nation's top delegate in Warsaw, who said on Monday he would not eat until a "meaningful outcome" was reached.

Some activists would fast during the meetings, but eat in the morning and evening, said Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network. He said he was among those fasting full time and would "continue until we see political movement or until the end" of the meeting.

Sano said he hoped his fast would put pressure on delegates to agree a new loss and damage mechanism to compensate poor countries for damage from global warming. He also urged more action by developed nations to curb their emissions and raise climate aid towards a promised $100 billion a year from 2020, from about $10 billion a year in 2010-12.

Most developed nations, however, are focusing on spurring economic growth after the financial crisis, rather than stepping up efforts to confront climate change.

Germanwatch said Haiti lost 9.5 percent of its economy last year in weather disasters led by Hurricane Sandy.

(Additional reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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