Best of our wild blogs: 23 Mar 14


3-week consultancy job (immediate start) for students/nature enthusiasts for a BIA study from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

Piglets overdose at Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs
from wild shores of singapore

Night Walk At Venus Drive (21 March 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG and Morning Walk At Venus Drive (22 Mar 2014)

Life History of the Pale Grass Blue
from Butterflies of Singapore


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Indonesia's forest fires feed 'brown cloud' of pollution choking Asia's cities

An acrid blanket of haze is hanging over the cities of south-east Asia, where 700,000 people a year die prematurely from the effects of air pollution. Industry and climate change are being blamed, but governments are slow to act
John Vidal The Observer The Guardian 22 Mar 14;

High above the vast Indonesian island of Sumatra, satellites identify hundreds of plumes of smoke drifting over the oil palm plantations and rainforests. They look harmless as the monsoon winds sweep them north and east towards Singapore, Malaysia and deep into Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. But at ground level, south-east Asian cities have been choking for weeks, wreathed in an acrid, stinking blanket of half-burned vegetation mixed with industrial pollution, car exhaust fumes and ash.

From Palangkarya in Borneo to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the air has been thick, the sun a dull glow and face masks obligatory. Schools, airports and roads have been closed and visibility at times has been down to just a few yards. Communities have had to be evacuated and people advised to remain indoors, transport has been disrupted and more than 50,000 people have had to be treated for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses in Sumatra alone. Last week more than 200 Malaysian schools were forced to close, and pollution twice reached officially hazardous levels.

The Asian "haze", which comes and goes with the wind and droughts, is back with a vengeance just eight months after an embarrassed Indonesian government promised it would never happen again and was forced to apologise to neighbouring countries for the pollution that blanketed the region in June 2013.

Mixed with the dense photo-chemical smogs that regularly hang over most large traffic-choked Asian cities, south-east Asia's air pollution has become not just a major public health hazard but is said to be now threatening food production, tourism and economic expansion. In addition, say scientists, it may now be exacerbating climate change.

According to Nasa satellite maps, more than 3,000 separate fires have been recorded across Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia since mid-January, more than in June 2013 when the pollution spiked to dangerous levels and became a regional diplomatic crisis. This time, the monsoon winds mostly spared Singapore but sent the thick smog from burning peat soils and vegetation over much of the region. Around 10 million people and an area the size of Britain and France have been affected.

Just as in 2013, most of this year's fires appear to have been started in Riau province, northern Sumatra, the centre of the rampant Indonesian palm oil and pulp-paper industries. According to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, 70% of these fires were lit by landowners wanting to clear ground for more plantations. But while Indonesia is widely blamed for the air pollution, the latest satellite images show fires burning and haze spreading across Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos and as far away as the Philippines and Papua.

What has surprised observers is the timing: the burning season, when farmers clear land, does not usually start for many months. Monitoring groups such as Walhi, the World Resources Institute and Greenpeace say the fires are linked both to the worst drought seen in years and corruption and inaction at government level. So far, says the Riau government, only a handful of suspects have been held for setting the fires.

Nearly half are burning on land managed by large pulpwood, palm oil and logging companies which have turned the rainforest into a giant fire-prone region by clearing millions of acres for plantations, says Nigel Sizer of the Washington-based World Resources Institute, which uses satellite data to pinpoint hot spots. The corporations have denied involvement, saying the latest fires are illegally set. "The fires are starting outside our forest concessions but with the heavy, circular winds they're jumping everywhere," said Kusnan Rahmin, president director of the pulp and paper manufacturer April Indonesia.

Sizer says: "Even if they did not start the fires, they are responsible for massive and dramatic clearing of forests in the regions that have been burning, and to some extent for the conflicts with local communities that may be starting fires to stake their claim to land awarded in concessions to the companies."

"Once ignited, peat fires are extremely difficult to extinguish and generate massive air pollution that contributes to the choking haze now blanketing much of Sumatra," says Rhett Butler, editor of the international forest conservation website Mongabay.

Scientists now fear that the Asian haze will intensify and become an annual event as the population of the region rises to an estimated five billion people and climate change bites over the next 30 years. This week's IPCC report on the expected impacts of climate change will warn of the cities becoming unliveable in for millions as temperatures rise. Droughts are expected to become longer and more intense and the number of extremely hot days to grow.

Still unclear is how far the haze from burning forests feeds into Asia's rapidly worsening urban air pollution to form a semi-permanent toxic cloud thick enough to disrupt monsoons and weather patterns across the world and reduce sunlight and crop yields.

From being more or less accepted as the inevitable price of industrial development and poverty reduction just a few years ago, air pollution has risen dramatically up the region's political agenda as the costs are counted. Asia is now the centre of global air pollution, which along with obesity is the world's fastest growing cause of death.

Every year, says a recent Lancet report, more than 2.1 million people in Asia die prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gases emitted by cars and lorries, as well as half-burned vegetation from forest burning. Of these deaths, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.

According to the Lancet report, by a consortium of universities working in conjunction with the UN, Asia loses more than 50m years of healthy life from fine particle air pollution per year. Air pollution also contributes to higher rates of cognitive decline, strokes and heart attacks, it says. In a separate report last month, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences claimed that Asian air pollution was now affecting climate around the world and making cities like Beijing uninhabitable and suggestive of what a "nuclear winter" might be like.

"Pollution originating from Asia clearly has an impact on the upper atmosphere and it appears to make such storms or cyclones even stronger," says Renyi Zhang, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University and a co-author of the study with Nasa scientists. "This pollution affects cloud formations, precipitation, storm intensity, and other factors and eventually impacts climate. Most likely, pollution from Asia can have important consequences on the weather pattern here over North America", said Zhang. The study backs UN research that suggests a layer of air pollution, the "brown cloud", regularly covers the upper atmosphere over Asia between January and March and could precipitate an environmental disaster that could affect billions of people.

It is, says scientists, the result of forest fires, the burning of agricultural wastes, dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, industries and power stations, and emissions from millions of inefficient cookers burning wood and cow dung.

"The effects of the 'Asian brown cloud' have been linked to the retreat, over the last half a century, of glaciers in the Himalayas that supply water to major rivers, including the Yangtse, the Ganges and the Indus," says co-author Harshal T. Pandve.

Asian leaders have been slow to understand and act on air pollution, but are now aware of people's anger. China, embarrassed by air pollution before the 2008 Olympics, says it is now costing its economy $400bn a year, or 6% of its GDP. Beijing last month pledged $1.6bn to reward cities for tackling it and said it planned to close 300 factories. Meanwhile, Singapore has proposed a law which would allow it to fine foreign companies for causing cross-border air pollution. But observers say that passing new laws will not enough. In the Philippines, where car numbers are predicted to quadruple within 20 years, a brown cloud hangs over the mega-city of Metro Manila most days, despite higher standards for vehicles and draconian laws.

"Most Asian governments are still concerned with economic development to the detriment of everything else," says Vicky Segovia, of Manila's Clean Air partnership. "We are not impressed by any of them."
A WORLD PROBLEM

INDIA

Air pollution in 180 Indian cities is more than six times higher than World Health Organisation standards and is the country's fifth biggest killer. Improvements in car and fuel technology since 2000 have been nullified by the rise in car numbers and the poor fuel burned.

USA

Air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths a year across the US, with emissions from cars and trucks causing 53,000 and power generation 52,000, says MIT's environment laboratory. California suffers most from air pollution (21,000 early deaths).

EUROPE

Janez Poto─Źnik, the EU environment commissioner, says poor air quality is the top environmental cause of premature deaths in the EU, causing more than 100,000 premature deaths a year and costing from £300bn-£800bn a year in extra health costs. Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and similar numbers in France and Germany. This month, Paris curbed car use on one day to cut pollution.

AFRICA

African cities are increasingly choked in smog from the burning of poor-quality diesel engines and firewood. In Lagos, Nigeria, tens of thousands of inefficient generators and more than 2m old cars are in use. The main teaching hospital says one in five admissions are now linked to respiratory diseases.


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NEWater wins UN-Water Best Practices Award

Channel NewsAsia 21 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE: NEWater, Singapore's own brand of recycled water, has won the “Water for Life” United Nations Water (UN-Water) Best Practices Award 2014.

It clinched the award for its public communications and education efforts.

Conferred annually by UN-Water, the award aims to promote efforts to fulfil international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015 through recognising outstanding best practices that can ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources.

In a statement on Friday, national water agency PUB said NEWater was awarded the prize under the "best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices" category.

PUB Chief Executive Chew Men Leong received the award during a special ceremony held in commemoration of World Water Day 2014 in Tokyo, Japan earlier on Friday.

PUB said key to the successful introduction of NEWater in Singapore is the campaign to garner public confidence and acceptance.

It rolled out a public campaign about the stringent production process, assuring the public that NEWater was safe to drink and correcting any misconceptions about water reclamation.

It engaged various stakeholders, including politicians, opinion leaders, water experts, grassroots leaders, schools, businesses and the man in the street.

NEWater is one of the four sources of water under the “Four National Taps” strategy, which also includes local catchment water, imported water and desalinated water.

It was pioneered by PUB in 2003.

PUB said NEWater has passed more than 100,000 scientific tests and exceeds the drinking water standards set by the World Health Organisation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

It is used primarily for non-potable purposes at wafer fabrication parks, industrial estates and commercial buildings, though a small amount is also blended with raw reservoir water before undergoing treatment at the waterworks for the water supply.

PUB said NEWater can currently meet 30 per cent of Singapore's daily water needs, and its capacity will be increased to meet up to 55 per cent of Singapore's future water demand by 2060.

- CNA/xq

UN Award for Newater
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 24 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - Singapore's reclaimed water, Newater, has won a best practices award from the United Nations for its outreach and public education work, national water agency PUB said last Friday.

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong picked up the "Water for Life" United Nations Water (UN-Water) 2014 award at a ceremony in Tokyo last Friday, held to commemorate World Water Day last Saturday.

Newater was one of nine entrants in the "best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices" category.

It was nominated by the Third World Centre for Water Management.

The centre's founder Asit Biswas and vice-president Cecilia Tortajada are water policy experts based in Singapore.

The annual UN-Water awards recognise practices that ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources.

Newater, introduced into reservoirs here in 2003, is ultra-pure reclaimed water produced from treated used water using advanced membrane technologies.

Singapore's current Newater production capacity can meet up to 30 per cent of its daily water needs. The first Newater plants were commissioned in 2002. On National Day that year, bottles of it were handed out at the National Day Parade as part of a PUB campaign to assure people it was safe to drink.

"Water recycling is not a new concept for water managers around the world," Mr Chew said in a statement. "What distinguishes Newater is the success that we have achieved in building public confidence for indirect potable use."


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Cities should tap reused water as dry spells become more prevalent

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 22 Mar 14;

CALIFORNIA: Cities should tap reused water as droughts and dry spells become more prevalent, and local water agencies should better engage the public to create an awareness of conservation measures.

These were some ideas shared by academics and experts at a water reuse conference in California on Wednesday.

The panel included Singapore's national water agency PUB.

It shared how NEWater had helped Singapore get through a recent dry spell.

In Northern California's Yolo County, farmers are starting their planting season amid a grim backdrop.

California has entered its third year of drought, and recent storms were not enough to break the spell.

The farmers here depend on surface water to irrigate crops like tomatoes, beans, alfalfa and wheat, most of which are water-intensive.

At this time of the year, canals are usually starting to be filled with water that comes from two lakes about 60 kilometres away.

The local water distribution department facilitates the supply of lake water to farmers.

But this year, the canal is bone dry, and Tony Turkovich's farm of 24 square kilometres (6,000 acres) will be relying entirely on the more costly option of pumped groundwater.

Mr Turkovich, partner of Turkovich and Button Farm, said: "We have also looked at the crops we grow and we have tried to move towards crops that use a little bit less water... Not every piece that we farm has well water available so we will have a couple of fields that we will not grow anything on. If we grow something (on these fields), it may have less yield because it won't have adequate water."

While the drought in Yolo County is not crippling at the moment, experts said the drier regions are seeing groundwater levels depleting rapidly due to mismanagement.

Harry Seah, chief technology officer at PUB, said recycling water has to be the way forward.

He elaborated: "Against this backdrop of water scarcity and climate change, water reuse is increasingly becoming a viable and sustainable option. Currently, only a small percentage of the world's used water is recycled. Water reuse has the potential to make a far greater impact. What's encouraging is we are starting to see more cities adopting water reuse as a viable water solution."

And knowing how water gets to one's tap is also key.

Professor Jay Famiglietti, director of Department of Earth System Science at University of California, Irvine, said: "If people understood where that original source was and how that source is changing, then they would be much more willing to embrace the need for conservation in the future. They need to know that their water is not coming from underneath their house or from a pipe".

Prof Famiglietti added cities and local water agencies can play a bigger role in educating residents on water conservation.

- CNA/gn


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Malaysia: 'Leave forest reserves alone'

The Star 23 Mar 14;

PETALING JAYA: The four forest reserves threatened by the proposed Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR) should not have any road running through them, says a deputy minister.

“The highway can be built around the forest reserve areas,” said Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit after launching the International Day of Forests yesterday at the Kepong Botanic Garden.

Dr James was asked to comment on the petition by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and several other environmental NGOs to halt plans to build the KLORR in the forest reserves.

The MNS on its website had encouraged the general public to voice their objections by Wednesday.

It said the proposed de-gazettement would involve 106.55ha of land from four forest reserves in Ampang, Bukit Seputeh, Ulu Gombak and Ulu Langat Forest Reserves.

Two of the forest reserves in Ampang and Ulu Gombak form part of the Selangor State Park and are important water catchment areas for the Klang Valley.

On Feb 14, the Selangor Forestry Department placed a notice in newspapers asking stakeholders in the Ulu Langat and Gombak districts to object to the proposed KLORR within 30 days.

The coalition of the Protection of the Selangor State Park, which comprised the MNS, World Wildlife Fund – Malaysia, Save Our Sungai Selangor and Treat Every Environment Special, had been calling for a change in the KLORR road alignment since 2009.

Asked if it was possible for the KLORR to be designed to avoid the forest reserves, Selangor executive council member in charge of tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the Federal Government should not have signed the agreement with concessionaire Ahmad Zakin Resources Bhd in haste in February 2012.

“We look forward to the Federal Government’s cancellation of the concession agreement,” she said.

Wong said the Selangor government had recommended a different route design to avoid the incursions into the forest reserves and the state park.

The alternative route will align closer to the edges and buffer zones of the park.


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Malaysia: Rainfall helps but rationing in Selangor will continue

The Star 23 Mar 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Rainfall in several areas over the past few days has increased the water levels in Sungai Selangor.

Syabas assistant corporate communications and public affairs general manager Priscilla Alfred said the increased levels had increased raw water at the Sungai Selangor Phase 1, 2, 3, Sungai Rasa and Rantau Panjang water treatment plants. Additional treated water was channelled to several areas involved in the Stage Three Water Rationing Plan.

“Syabas continues to control and reduce the release of water from the Sungai Selangor Dam and follow the Water Rationing Plan approved by the National Water Services Commission,” Alfred said in a statement yesterday.

Syabas said it would also continue the First Stage Water Rationing Plan implemented after the closure of the Cheras Batu 11 and Bukit Tampoi water treatment plants due to ammonia contamination.

Syabas said it was monitoring both plants which had begun operation since March 17 and 19, respectively.

The water treatment plants would continue to operate according to the quality of raw water and channel supply to areas such as Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang.

Syabas said the Water Rationing Plan would continue indefinitely until decided otherwise by the Selangor state government. — Bernama


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Malaysia: Rhino flown to wildlife reserve

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 23 Mar 14;

ENDANGERED: Rescued female rhino may be used in breeding programme

KOTA KINABALU: WILDLIFE conservationists translocated a female Sumatran rhinoceros to the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on Friday.

The mammal, believed to be in her teen, was rescued near a river in a remote area of Danum Valley, 117km away from the reserve.

She was put in a crate before being airlifted out of Danum using a Sirkorsky S64 sky crane.

Named "Iman", after a small river, her rescue was the result of a year's intense efforts on the preservation of the critically endangered species.

The rescue was carried out by 25 personnel from the Wildlife Rescue Unit of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA), WWF-Malaysia, Yayasan Sabah and Sabah Forestry Department.

SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said wildlife experts would review all the potential options on how Iman could best contribute towards the preservation of her species.

Currently, the sanctuary has three rhinos including a fefgrtile but ageing male named "Tam", and a younger but infertile female named "Puntung".

"The Sumatran rhino is on the verge of extinction in Sabah and bringing them into captive conditions may help the preservation programme and help boost the international collaboration," said Dr Ambu.

Sabah Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the state cabinet had agreed to loan Tam to the Cincinnati Zoo for breeding following unsuccessful attempts to breed them in captivity.

Three captive Sumatran rhinos raise conservation hopes
The Star 23 Mar 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife researchers are hopeful that three Sumatran rhinoceros now in captivity at a reserve will help save the species from extinction.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said they were examining the latest captive, a female Sumatran rhino recently translocated to the reserve to join two other creatures from the critically endangered species.

The female rhino was air-lifted by a helicopter to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve on Friday, about 10 days after its capture at the Danum Valley conservation area.

Researchers have named the female rhino Iman after the small river at the Danum Valley.

“Once Iman is settled into Tabin, we will review all potential options on how she can best contribute to her species,” Dr Ambu said.

“We hope that this success will act as a boost to international collaboration on the Sumatran rhino, and through the NGO Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), try to engage with our counterparts in Indonesia.”

He said the capture of Iman and two others – a male named Tam and a female named Puntung – was necessary.

“The Sumatran rhino is on the verge of extinction in Sabah. Bringing them into captive conditions allows us to maximise the chance that each rhino can help save the species,” Laurentius said, adding that the department had been working on this matter with Bora, WWF Malaysia and Yayasan Sabah.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the state Cabinet had decided a year ago to bring all remaining Sumatran rhinos into a managed, fenced-in facility.

“Our hope is to breed them with the neccessary local and global expertise,” he said.

“We also hope that with the continued support and expertise on rhino reproductive biology from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife based in Berlin, Germany, we will have baby rhinos soon,” Masidi added.

In this regard, he said while the Sabah cabinet had agreed to loan Tam to the Cincinatti Zoo for breeding as part of international collaboration, that move may not be necessary if Iman was proven to be fertile.

“The state Cabinet approval to send Tam to the United States was conditional upon our failure to catch a fertile young female rhino at Danum within a reasonable time to mate with Tam,” he added.


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Global warming to hit Asia hardest, warns new report on climate change

Flooding, famine and rising sea levels will put hundreds of millions at risk in one of the world's most vulnerable regions
Robin McKie The Observer The Guardian 22 Mar 14;

People in coastal regions of Asia, particularly those living in cities, could face some of the worst effects of global warming, climate experts will warn this week. Hundreds of millions of people are likely to lose their homes as flooding, famine and rising sea levels sweep the region, one of the most vulnerable on Earth to the impact of global warming, the UN states.

The report – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – makes it clear that for the first half of this century countries such as the UK will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, triggered by rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. By contrast, people living in developing countries in low latitudes, particularly those along the coast of Asia, will suffer the most, especially those living in crowded cities.

A final draft of the report, seen by the Observer, will be debated by a panel of scientists set up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week at a meeting in Yokohama, Japan, and will form a key part of the IPCC's fifth assessment report on global warming, whose other sections will be published later this year.

According to the scientists who have written the draft report, hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and land loss as global temperatures rise, ice caps melt and sea levels rise. "The majority of it will be in east, south-east and south Asia. Some small island states are expected to face very high impacts."

In addition, the report warns that cities also face particular problems. "Heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, as well as drought and water scarcity, pose risks in urban areas with risks amplified for those lacking essential infrastructure and services or living in exposed areas." The report adds that this latter forecast is made with very high confidence.

In addition, climate change will slow down economic growth, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, particularly "in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger," it is argued.

This combination of a high-risk region and the special vulnerability of cities make coastal Asian urban centres likely flashpoints for future conflict and hardship as the planet warms up this century. Acrid plumes of smoke – produced by forest fires triggered by drought and other factors –are already choking cities across south-east Asia. In future, this problem is likely to get worse, say scientists.

The authors warn that some other climate change effects will be global. "Climate change throughout the 21st century will lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, as compared to a baseline without climate change," the report states. "Examples include greater likelihood of injury, disease, and death due to more intense heatwaves and fires; increased likelihood of under-nutrition resulting from diminished food production in poor regions; and increased risks from food-borne and water-borne disease."

Other potential crises highlighted by the report include the likelihood that yields of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize are likely to decline at rates of up to 2% a decade, at a time when demands for these crops – triggered by world population increases – are likely to rise by 14%. At the same time, coral reefs face devastating destruction triggered by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide dissolving in sea water and acidifying Earth's oceans.

The report makes grim reading. "This comprehensive scientific assessment makes clear that climate change is having a growing impact in the UK and around the world, and that the risks of catastrophic consequences increase every day as more greenhouse gas pollution is pumped into the atmosphere. I hope David Cameron will read this report and understand the huge dangers of delaying the bigger cuts in emissions that are required to protect our children, grandchildren and future generations against this devastating threat," said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

Climate change to disrupt food supplies, brake growth: U.N. draft
Alister Doyle and Stian Reklev PlanetArk 24 Mar 14;

Climate change to disrupt food supplies, brake growth: U.N. draft Photo: Denis Balibouse
Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), briefs the media on the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva June 7, 2012.
Photo: Denis Balibouse

A 29-page draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will also outline many ways to adapt to rising temperatures, more heatwaves, floods and rising seas.

"The scientific reasoning for reducing emissions and adapting to climate change is becoming far more compelling," Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, told Reuters in Beijing.

Scientists and more than 100 governments will meet in Japan from March 25-29 to edit and approve the report. It will guide policies in the run-up to a U.N. summit in Paris in 2015 meant to decide a deal to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The 29-page draft projects risks such as food and water shortages and extinctions of animals and plants. Crop yields would range from unchanged to a fall of up to 2 percent a decade, compared to a world without warming, it says.

And some natural systems may face risks of "abrupt or drastic changes" that could mean irreversible shifts, such as a runaway melt of Greenland or a drying of the Amazon rainforest.

It said there were "early warning signs that both coral reef and Arctic systems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts". Corals are at risk in warmer seas and the Arctic region is thawing fast.

Climate change will hit growth. Warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could mean "global aggregate economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income", it says.

Almost 200 governments have agreed to limit warming to less than 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, mainly by curbing emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 Celsius (1.4F).

RISING RISKS

"A wide range of impacts from climate change are already happening," said Chris Field of Stanford University and a co-chair of the IPCC report. "Risks are much greater with more warming than less warming."

"And it doesn't require 100 percent certainty before you have creative options for moving forwards ... there are compelling adaptation options," he told Reuters by telephone.

The report points to options such as improved planning for disasters such as hurricanes or flooding, efforts to breed drought- or flood-resistant crops, measures to save water and energy or wider use of insurance.

Field said the IPCC will have to take account of thousands of comments since the draft was leaked to a climate sceptic's website late last year.

And the findings will be under scrutiny, especially after the previous IPCC assessment in 2007 wrongly projected that Himalayan glaciers might all melt by 2035, affecting water supplies for millions of people from China to India.

This time, a sub-chapter projects Himalayan ice will range from a 2 percent gain to a 29 percent loss by 2035. "It is virtually certain that these projections are more reliable than an earlier erroneous assessment," it says.

The study is the second part of a mammoth three-part report.

The first, in September, raised the probability that human activities, rather than natural variations, are the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90 in 2007.

But many people in big emitting nations are unconvinced.

Only 40 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Chinese view climate change as a major threat, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 39 nations in 2013.

A third instalment, due in Berlin in mid-March, will show solutions to climate change such as more renewable energy.

(Editing by Sophie Hares)


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