Best of our wild blogs: 21 Jan 14

Butterflies Galore! : Two Spotted Line Blue
from Butterflies of Singapore

Handful of species key to ecosystem health, finds study
from news

Read more!

Johor-Riau link on the cards

The Star 21 Jan 14;

JOHOR BARU: Plans are in the pipeline to connect Riau in Sumatra, Indonesia, to Kukup in Pontian, Johor, via a 17.5km undersea tunnel linking the two countries.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Pelalawan Regency in Riau Province are currently undertaking the feasibility study on the multibillion ringgit link project.

To be known as the Johor-Riau Link, the undersea tunnel would link Karimum Island in Riau to Kukup, Pontian, near the existing ferry terminal in the Pontian district.

“The project is more cost-effective and viable at a cost of about RM15bil compared with the Dumai-Malacca bridge estimated to be RM44.3bil,’’ said UTM Construction Research Alliance dean Prof Dr Muhd Zaimi Abd Majid to reporters yesterday at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the university and Pelalawan Regency represented by its head of district Muhammad Harris.

Dr Muhd Zaimi said the project had received initial funding from two parties.

He said the preliminary feasibility study showed that the link would create higher economic impact between Riau and Johor, lower risk and lower disturbing effect compared to the development of the Dumai-Malacca and Batam-Singapore bridges.

“It will not cause disturbances to commercial vessels using the Straits of Malacca during construction activities as no structures will be built above seawater,’’ said Dr Muhd Zaimi.

He said the undersea tunnel would be constructed using the boring method similar to the construction of the mass rapid transit system in the Klang Valley and would take between three and five years to be completed.

Muhammad said apart from the 17.5km tunnel, the Johor-Riau Link would also include several bridges linking islands off Riau waters to Karimum Island and connect to the undersea tunnel.

“The link between Riau Province and Johor will further accelerate growth in the province under the Indonesian central government’s Sumatra Corridor Development Region,’’ he said.

Muhammad said the link would also benefit Malaysia as Riau was the second richest province in Indonesia after East Kalimantan with oil and natural gas reserves as well as the biggest palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

Read more!

Floods in Indonesia ecological disaster: Environment Minister

Antara 20 Jan 14;

Bogor, West Java (ANTARA News) - Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya stated that the flooding that has taken place in most parts of Indonesia was an ecological disaster.

"The floods that we now face are all a result of an ecological damage. Our ecology has been completely destroyed," pointed out Balthasar Kambuaya while reviewing the location of the demolished villas in Bogor on Monday.

Balthasar explained that the flooding that had occurred in the past week was mainly influenced by the Asian Monsoon concentrated in Jakarta and West Java and in part, by the heavy rainfall that simultaneously flooded the upstream and downstream of Ciliwung River, along with the tides.

According to Balthasar, compared to the 2007s flooding, the rainfall has not been more than 300 mm a day. Flooding in this year was mainly caused by spatial changes rapidly increasing in the upstream, midstream and downstream areas, especially for settlement.

The rate of ecological damage or environmental degradation in Indonesia year to year has been alarming. It was evident from the decrease in the forest coverage from 49.37 percent in 2008 to 47.73 percent in 2012, or degraded by 1.64 percent within four years.

In the Watershed of Ciliwung, forest coverage has decreased from 9.4 percent in 2000 to 2.3 percent in 2010, a degradation rate of 7.14 percent in the past 10 years, or 0.7 percent a year.

Balthasar stated that the ecological damage in Ciliwung, such as increasing the level of critical land with high erosion and sedimentation and also high fluctuation of water flow between the dry and rainy seasons, were factors that contributed to the flooding in Jakarta and landslide in some areas in Ciliwung upstream.

According to Balthasar, the Watershed of Ciliwung condition increasingly worsened with the difference in the levels of water flow in the dry and rainy season being more than 300-fold.

"Everything happens because of human behavior which is not environmentally friendly, especially in Ciliwung, where garbage is being dumped into the river," he retorted.

Reporting by Desi Purnamawati. (Uu.D018/KR-BSR/O001)
Editor: Priyambodo RH

Read more!

Time for a sea change in ocean management – FAO Director-General

New approach to marine resources needed to safeguard world food security, promote sustainable development
FAO 20 Jan 14;

20 January 2014, Abu Dhabi - Major changes in how the planet's marine resources are managed and used are needed to safeguard global food security and ensure the wellbeing of coastal and island countries, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told a group of high level policymakers meeting here today.

"We cannot keep using marine and aquatic resources as if they were endless. And we cannot keep using our oceans as a waste pool," he said in remarks made at the Blue Economy Summit (19-20 January, Abu Dhabi), attended by heads of state, environment and fisheries ministers, and other key stakeholders.

Serious threats to ocean health such as pollution, overfishing, and altered weather and rising sea levels resulting from climate change must be tackled in earnest - starting now -- argued FAO's chief executive.

"The health of our planet itself, our health and food security, depends on how we treat the blue world," he said.

Time to act

On average, nearly 17 percent of animal protein consumed worldwide comes from fisheries and aquaculture, and in many small island developing states the figure is much higher.

At the same time, the livelihoods 12 percent of the world's population depend on fisheries and aquaculture, mainly in the developing world.

But 30 percent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion, with economic losses in marine fisheries resulting from poor management, inefficiencies, and overfishing adding up to $50 billion per year, FAO studies show.

And now climate change is posing new challenges to populations who rely on the oceans, by modifying the distribution and productivity of marine and freshwater species, affecting biological processes, and altering food webs.

Weather changes due to climate change are also taking a toll on many ocean-reliant communities, while the threat of rising sea levels is poised to have major impacts, in particular for small island developing states (SIDS). (Learn more about the challenges facing small island developing states, and how they are organizing to meet them.)

The last thirty years have seen some 80 different commitments on dealing with various ocean threats promulgated at the global level, Graziano da Silva noted, adding: "We not only need to commit, we need to act."

A blue economy

The concept of a "blue economy" that came out of the 2012 Rio+20 Conference will have an important role to play in achieving the post-2015 global sustainable development goals, Graziano da Silva said during his remarks.

The blue economy model emphasizes conservation and sustainable management, based on the premise that healthy ocean ecosystems are more productive and represent the only way to ensure sustainable ocean-based economies. It also aims to ensure that small island developing states and developing world coastal states equitably benefit from their marine resources.

To support a shift to this new approach, FAO is establishing a new Blue Growth Initiative,
through which the Organization will assist countries in developing and implementing blue economy and growth agendas.

The initiative will aim to foster partnerships and act as a catalyst for policy development, investment and innovation in support of food security, poverty reduction, and the sustainable management of aquatic resources.

Read more!

CO2 emissions are being 'outsourced' by rich countries to rising economies

Greenhouse gas output of China and elsewhere is increased by making goods that are then used in the US and Europe
Suzanne Goldenberg 19 Jan 14;

Jinhuarun chemical plant in Zekou Town, Qianjiang City of Hubei Province, China. A draft UN report says the west is increasingly outsourcing its carbon pollution to China and other rising economies Photograph: How Hwee Young/EPA
The world's richest countries are increasingly outsourcing their carbon pollution to China and other rising economies, according to a draft UN report.

Outsourcing of emissions comes in the form of electronic devices such as smartphones, cheap clothes and other goods manufactured in China and other rising economies but consumed in the US and Europe.

A draft of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by the Guardian, says emissions of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases warming the planet grew twice as fast in the first decade of the 21st century as they did during the previous three decades.

Much of that rise was due to the burning of coal, the report says. And much of that coal was used to power factories in China and other rising economies that produce goods for US and European consumers, the draft adds.

Since 2000, annual carbon dioxide emissions for China and the other rising economies have more than doubled to nearly 14 gigatonnes a year, according to the draft report. But about 2 GT a year of that was produced making goods for export.

The picture is similar for other rising economies producing goods for export, the report finds.

"A growing share of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in developing countries is released in the production of goods and services exported, notably from upper-middle-income countries to high-income countries," the report says.

Other middle income countries, with smaller exports, saw a more gradual rise in emissions. For the poorest countries in the world, however, emissions have flatlined since 1990.

Factories in China and other rising economies now produce more carbon pollution than industries in America and Europe.

"A growing share of global emissions is released in the manufacture of products that are traded across international borders," the draft says.

The newly wealthy elites of China, India and Brazil are flying more, buying more cars and otherwise fuelling the consumption that is driving climate change.

But their per capita greenhouse gas emissions are still below those in America and Europe – a gap that China and India regularly cite at climate talks to deflect pressure to cut emissions.

In addition, a large and growing share of the carbon pollution attributed to China and those rising economies was generated in the production of goods that ended up in America and Europe.

The outsourcing of those emissions has skewed efforts to account for all global emissions, which typically was conducted on a national basis. Those accounting efforts are no longer accurate, according to analysts.

"If we are just looking at our national inventory to understand the emissions trends, it is just not telling the full picture of our impacts," said Cynthia Cummis, an expert on greenhouse gas accounting at the World Resources Institute. "We need to understand the full life cycle of all the goods and services that we are purchasing and selling."

There is now growing debate about how to assign responsibility for emissions generated producing goods that were made in one country but ultimately destined for another.

"The consumers that are importing those goods have some responsibility for those goods that are happening outside of our boundaries," Cummis said.

The 29-page draft, a summary for policy makers, was dated 17 December. An edited version is due to be published in Germany in April.

The report is the third in a series by the IPCC, summing up the state of the climate crisis since 2007 and prospects for solutions. The first part was released in September. It is stark about the chances of avoiding dangerous climate change – especially if deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are pushed back beyond 2030.

Temperatures have already risen by 0.8C since the dawning of the industrial age, the report says.

Unless there are deep cuts in emissions – up to 70% of current levels by 2050 – or a near-quadrupling of renewable energy, governments may have to fall back increasingly on experimental technologies for sucking carbon dioxide from the air to avoid dangerous warming, the report says.

Read more!