Best of our wild blogs: 11 Jun 15

ICCS Youth Day Celebrations: Marine Biodiversity and Sustainability Workshop + Mangrove Cleanup @ Sungei Pandan
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Year-Round Coastal Cleanup – BASF remove 147kg of trash @ Changi Beach (28 May 2015)
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Shocked by 5kg of straws @ Tanah Merah Beach 7: World Environment Day Coastal Cleanup
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Singapore Wild Mushrooms
Bugs & Insects of Singapore

June Green Drinks: Singapore’s Food Sustainability
Green Drinks Singapore

Read more!

'Low chance of quake in Singapore'

Samantha Boh The Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Jun 15;

The chances of a serious earthquake in Singapore remain extremely low, given that its nearest fault line is 300km away in eastern Sumatra, said veteran geologist Kerry Sieh.

He said last Friday's 6.0-magnitudequake in Sabah, though rare, was the result of a shifting 10km fault line about 10km beneath the surface, south of Mount Kinabalu.

"Unlike Sumatra, Nepal, Taiwan and Japan, which straddle fast-moving tectonic plate boundaries, Sabah is not a place well known for destructive quakes," said the head of the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University. There have been three quakes of such intensity there in the last century.

Professor Sieh and his team are now poring through seismic recordings from around the world, measurements of ground deformation from orbiting satellites, and analyses of Sabah's mountainous topography to understand what happened and why. They suspect that the fault in question is part of a system of faults that runs nearly 200km across Sabah.

Prof Sieh noted that there has been no record of an earthquake in Singapore to date, although weak tremors are felt occasionally from distant quakes. While there is no such thing as absolute certainty in earthquake prediction, he stressed that unlike Sabah, there is no indication the plate Singapore is on is "mildly cracking".

His team plans to try and pin down what exactly happened in Sabah, and put appropriate safety measures in place.

Earth now in active seismic cycle: Expert
The Earth goes through cycles of these seismic activities, with periods of greater frequency and magnitude, and it is now in an active cycle, says a geologist.
Janice Lim Channel NewsAsia 10 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE: Nature's wrath struck in 2004, when a tsunami hit the coasts of several countries around the Indian Ocean. This marked the beginning of what geologists call an "active cycle", where the Earth experiences greater seismic activity.

Said Professor Kerry Sieh, director at the Earth Observatory of Singapore: "The Earth goes through cycles of seismic energy release, and less release and more release.

"We have definitely been in the active cycle in the last 11 years since 2004. All the magnitude-8.4 earthquakes and bigger, up to 9.2, they all happened in the last 11 years. Several of those have been in Asia."

The previous active cycle was in the 1950s to mid-1960s, which saw several earthquakes with a magnitude of a high 8 and above 9. But for the next 40 years, there were no records of a quake with a magnitude above 8.3, until 2004.

Since then, a string of devastating earthquakes has caused much destruction, like in Sumatra in 2005 and Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

"We don't know whether we are at the end of the cycle or not," said Professor Sieh. "My hunch is we will continue to see a larger number of large earthquakes. But that's only a hunch because we don't really have a way of telling whether we are at the end of the cycle or not."

In response to the recent Sabah quake, Professor Sieh supported the call by Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to relook safety protocols for climbers on Mount Kinabalu and also offered his team's expertise.

- CNA/hs

Read more!

Urban city leaders need to be prepared for 'transformative influences': Desmond Lee

Challenges that cities currently face, and will face in the future, can be capitalised to benefit their people, says Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee.
Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 10 Jun 15;

NEW YORK: Trends such as urbanisation and globalisation are shaping the development of urban cities, and leaders need to be flexible to capitalise on these "transformative influences" to benefit their people, said Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee on Wednesday morning (Jun 10).

"Increasingly intertwined, the confluence of these forces has had, and will continue to have, a tremendous impact on societies around the world. As city leaders, we need to be prepared for these transformative influences, and be flexible and adaptive enough to capitalise on these forces to benefit our people,” Mr Lee said at the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum in New York City.

This year's forum aims to explore innovative solutions to urban challenges. Into its sixth edition, the three-day event brings together about 70 mayors and city leaders from around the world.

By 2050, around 70 per cent of the world's population will live in cities. Cities account for 80 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), but they also produce more than half of greenhouse gases.

Deputy Secretary-General for United Nations Jan Eliasson speaking at the forum. (Photo: Ministry of National Development's Facebook page)

Deputy Secretary-General for United Nations Jan Eliasson said: "Urbanisation is one of the strongest defining forces shaping the 21st century. Urbanisation can be a transformative force for the sustainable development goals by making cities and human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable."

"City leaders who best adapt to these demographic, social, economic and cultural shifts will be the ones whose cities are more economically viable, more environmentally sustainable, more socially vibrant and alive," he added.

Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio said there have been examples of national governments looking away from problems rather than taking them on directly.

"Sometimes it's more politically convenient to ignore problems or minimise them, than to accept the challenge. But then, in that environment, mayors become even more important. We become the bright shining lights, the actual leaders willing to accept challenges, to talk about them bluntly and honestly with our people, to show people that even amidst the complexities, that there are real and tangible solutions," he said.

Mr de Blasio also spoke about his administration's plans for sustainability and equity as the city develops. For example, he said New York City has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

This is the second time the event is held outside Singapore. This year, New York City was chosen because it won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize in 2012. Organisers hope that by holding the forum in New York City, participants will have a chance to observe how policies were implemented successfully in the city.

The Singapore delegation did just that, by visiting sites on Monday, including the Brooklyn Navy Yard industrial park.

Rooftop garden at the Brooklyn Navy Yard industrial park in New York City. (Photo: Ministry of National Development's Facebook page)

There, the officials visited a rooftop vegetable farm, which supplies produce to restaurants. Executive director of Centre for Liveable Cities Khoo Teng Chye said this could be adapted in Singapore, with the advantages going beyond food production.

"It's the idea that you bring communities together," he said. "There is a lot of community bonding when you do this urban farming. It looks very simple, but actually, you're applying a lot of knowledge, a lot of technology, to try to successfully cultivate - as they say - high-yield, high-density farming."

The farm also plants microgreens, which are the shoots of salad vegetables, that can be sold to restaurants at higher prices.

- CNA/fs/ek

Read more!