Best of our wild blogs: 29 Feb 16

The Kopi Luwak Campaign
Life of a common palm civet in Singapore

The Jubilee Whale Charity Gala Dinner
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Green Chromide (Etroplus suratensis) @ Sengkang
Monday Morgue

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S$200 fine for homes found breeding mosquitoes from Mar 14

The fine, which is currently imposed only when the home is within a dengue cluster, will be expanded to include all places of residence.
Nadia Jansen Hassan Channel NewsAsia 28 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE: Starting Mar 14, the owners of homes found to be breeding mosquitoes will be fined S$200, regardless whether the home is within a dengue cluster.

Currently, enforcement action is taken only against homes within dengue clusters. The stepping up of enforcement efforts follows projections by the National Environment Agency (NEA) that the number of dengue cases could hit a record 30,000 this year.

This is due to factors such as warmer conditions brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon, as well as faster breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquito population.

The move was announced on Sunday (Feb 28) by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli. He was speaking at the launch of the Do the Mozzie Wipeout campaign, which took place at the Tampines West Community Club.

"Worse than dengue, there is the threat of Zika among us," said Mr Masagos. "If we can bring down the mosquito population, we will not only mitigate the problem of dengue, but we will at the same time prevent the spread of Zika."

Organised annually by the NEA, the campaign is aimed at rallying the public to take active steps to prevent mosquito breeding over a 14-day period, the equivalent of two breeding cycles.

As part of the campaign, more than 5,000 grassroots leaders and volunteers have been trained to conduct house visits, particularly in areas where there is a higher risk of dengue spreading.

These volunteers will be checking for potential breeding sites, as well as giving residents tips on dengue prevention.

NEA will be training another 5,000 volunteers to carry out such house visits.

- CNA/cy

S$200 fine for all homes found breeding mosquitoes
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 29 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE — Less than two weeks after it warned that Singapore could experience its worst dengue spell this year amid the looming threat of the Zika virus landing here, the Government is taking the fight against the mosquito-borne disease up another notch. From March 14, all homes found to be breeding mosquitoes, instead of only culprits in active dengue clusters, face a S$200 fine, announced Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Sunday (Feb 28).

Speaking at the launch of the nationwide Do the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign — brought forward from the typical launch closer to the peak dengue season between June and October — Mr Masagos noted that the majority of mosquito breeding grounds are still found in homes and urged all homeowners to “take this matter seriously”.

“I ... urge all homeowners to take this matter seriously (and) take immediate steps to remove and prevent mosquito breeding. Don’t fall on the wrong side of the law,” he said, adding that the fine quantum could be increased if the latest move has “no effect”, although the current sum was enough as a deterrent from what has been observed.

“From the current enforcement that we’ve been making in the red dengue clusters, we’ve found that for most cases, when we come again the second time, the place is very clean,” said Mr Masagos. The extension of the fine, which comes under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act, will stay in place until any review.

The fine was introduced in February 2005 and doubled to the current S$200 in April 2008.

On Feb 18, the authorities had forecast a historic high of 30,000 dengue cases this year, nearly a third higher than the previous record of 22,170 cases in 2013, citing warmer temperatures and a change in the type of dengue virus in circulation as among the factors for the expected surge.

At the same time, Mr Masagos warned that it is “not improbable” that the Zika virus, which has been linked to thousands of cases of a birth defect in Brazil where babies are born with unusually small heads, causing brain damage, could hit Singapore. The virus is also spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue fever.

As of last Friday, there have been more than 400 dengue clusters reported, with 142 of them still active — defined as those that have seen two or more cases within 14 days and are located within 150m of each other.

In total, more than 4,400 dengue cases have been reported this year, an anomalous surge for this time of the year. Last month, Mr Masagos told Parliament more than 1,000 households in dengue clusters were fined for breeding mosquitoes last year.

The latest move comes after the National Environment Agency (NEA) started the Do the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign in 2013, when Singapore had a record number of dengue cases. The authorities have also increased the number of inspections and enforcement checks, as well as introduced stiffer action on construction sites last year.

Last month alone, more than 10 notices to attend court, as well as over 10 stop-work orders, were issued against errant contractors, the NEA said. Since last year, more than 900 notices to attend court and over 100 stop-work orders have been served.

Members of Parliament lauded the move to crack down on mosquito breeding, pointing out that fighting dengue is everyone’s responsibility.

Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) said residents could become more vigilant as a result. “It is a step in the right direction, because ... it should be part of our psyche and DNA to want to play a role in (fighting dengue),” he said.

Calling it a “necessary” step, Dr Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) said about three-fifths of mosquito breeding sites in Nee Soon South were found in homes.

“The fine will increase the motivation for everyone to check their homes, whether they’re in a cluster or not,” she said.

While a combination of both fines and outreach efforts is crucial, MPs said more can be done to counter the virus.

Mr Baey said house visits could go further by having volunteers point out potential problem areas, because some residents, especially the elderly, may overlook possible breeding spots and may not fully understand the precautions they must take.

Dr Lee said litter, when not cleaned up, can collect water and breed mosquitoes. “Even though we have cleaners, they cannot clean up every piece of litter ... I hope every Singaporean will pick up litter when they see it, for the safety of themselves and their loved ones,” she said.

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Malaysia: Sabah to declare three marine parks as shark sanctuaries

RUBEN SARIO The Star 28 Feb 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is set to declare three of its marine parks as shark sanctuaries by mid-2016 in a bid protect the endangered marine creatures, state Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.

He said the Tun Sakaran marine park in Semporna district, Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park here and the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park in Kudat would be declared shark sanctuaries.

“These marine parks cover a total area of some 2mil hectares and is home to about 80% of our shark population,” said Masidi after launching the My Fin My Life campaign to reduce shark fin consumption and promote sustainable seafood here on Sunday.

He said the move to ban shark fishing at the marine parks would hopefully increase the shark population.

Masidi said his ministry’s officers were finalising documents to be tabled during the state Cabinet meeting for the three marine parks to be gazetted as shark sanctuaries.

He said the announcement would coincide with the declaration of the Tun Mustapha marine park in the middle of the year.

He said the state had no choice but to use state laws to protect Sabah’s shark population when a request to the Federal government to amend the Fisheries Act to protect marine creature was rejected.

“We only asked for shark hunting to be banned in Sabah, not in other states,” said Masidi, adding he was not afraid of being “politically incorrect” in the name of protecting the state’s natural heritage.

Last September Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the Sabah government’s request for a ban on shark hunting and finning in the state was unnecessary.

He said sharks, unlike tuna, were accidentally caught by fishermen in Malaysian waters. This indicated that shark hunting and the finning industry did not exist in Malaysia.

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Malaysia: State govt mulls cloud seeding to combat drought in Tawau

The Star 28 Feb 16;

TAWAU: Cloud seeding will be carried out in Tawau if all other efforts cannot solve the water supply problem in the district due to drought.

State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the state government would discuss the move if the situation warrants it.

"The state government is aware of the problem of water shortage being faced by the residents of Tawau due to the el-Nino phenomenon," he said.

He said this after representing Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman to open the Umno Kalabakan Silver Jubilee celebration in the compound of the Umno Kalabakan office Sunday.

He urged the people of Tawau to be patient in facing the situation.

He said the government had deployed tanker lorries to ensure water supply was delivered to the residents in the district.

Meanwhile, Tawau MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh said the construction of a RM400mil dam in Kampung Cinta Mata, which would begin this year, was a long-term solution to the problem. - Bernama

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Indonesia: Dozens of hot spots already being detected around the country

Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post 28 Feb 16;

While a substantial part of Indonesia is still in the wet season, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has recorded that a total of 69 hot spots have been detected in numerous areas in the country on Saturday — a telltale sign of a possible haze crisis.

Of the 69 hot spots, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 14 in Riau, six in North Sumatra, three in South Aceh, 38 in East Kalimantan, one in North Kalimantan, two in Papua and four in South Sulawesi.

Although work has been carried out to contain some of the 69 hot spots, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho warned that forest and land fires “will continue as they are related to people’s habits and their way of living [through slash-and-burn practices for clearing land], poor law enforcement measures, local politics and other social issues”.

Last year, fires spread across a total of 2.61 million hectares of forest and peatland, resulting in choking haze blanketing numerous areas for about five months, including also some parts of neighboring countries. The haze left at least 21 people dead and caused respiratory problems for more than half a million people.

The fires also cost the economy Rp 221 trillion (US$16.5 billion), or around 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the BNPB. While the World Bank has estimated that Indonesia’s economy lost $16 billion due to the fires, more than double what was spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami.

Efforts to extinguish the fires cost the BNPB alone around Rp 734.5 billion.

A number of efforts to anticipate potential fires this year have been taken following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s instructions, including the formation of a special body tasked with restoring the peatland ecosystem.

Many have called on the government to step up its efforts to stop illegal logging, as well as changing the routine use of slash-and-burn, if the country is serious about ending forest and peatland fires.

“We can’t stop the [slash-and-burn] method simply by imposing a ban since the reason behind it is economic. We have to find a practical solution,” he said.

The government will continue efforts to anticipate forest fires despite predictions that this year’s dry season will not be as dry as last year, as the El Niño weather phenomenon is expected to end in April, while the onset of La Nina is thought to be able to mitigate the effects of the dry season.

“The rainy season is expected to come earlier and bring a higher intensity of rain. Such conditions will help us in dealing with forest and land fires,” Sutopo said.

The number of hot spots in Sumatra, where most of the hot spots have been reported, has fluctuated in the past couple of days.

The Pekanbaru office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) confirmed that satellites found 23 hot spots in three provinces in Sumatra, Aceh, Riau and North Sumatra, on Saturday morning, with Riau having the most hot spots with 14.

Around 13 hotspots found in Riau’s Bengkalis regency indicated forest and land fires, said BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin.

Antara news wire also reported that about 163 villages out of a total of 1,800 villages and subdistricts were vulnerable to forest fires this year.

On Friday, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 47 hot spots across Sumatra, up from 45 on Thursday afternoon, despite a downpour over the past few days.

Citing past patterns, the BNPB predicted that hot spots in Sumatra might occur mostly between June and October and in Kalimantan from July to October. As for Riau, potential fires might occur between February and April due to dry weather there.

BMKG Pekanbaru would intensify coordination with the local disaster mitigation office to anticipate any potential fires, said Sugarin.

Terra and Aqua Satellites detects 68 hotspots over Sumatra Island
Antara 28 Feb 16;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - The Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) of Pekanbaru detected 68 hotspots that dotted Sumatra Island on Sunday.

"The Terra and Aqua Satellites sensors identified 68 hotspots today, the highest number identified in this week," Head of Data and Information Center of Pekanbaru BMKG Slamet Riyadi said here on Sunday.

Two provinces which have the most hotspots were Riau with 28 and North Sumatra with 17 hotspots.

Meanwhile, Bengkulu was dotted with nine hotspots, Aceh with seven hotspots, West Sumatra with six hotspots, and Riau Island with only one of them.

The satellite imagery showed that the 28 hotspots in Riau spread in some districts namely Bengkalis (19), Pelalawan (5), Siak (3), and Indragiri Hilir (1) with a confidence level above 70 percent.

Meanwhile, Head of Pekanbarus BMKG Sugarin said the number of hotspots in Riau Province follow the trend of increasing occurrence especially in its coastal of southern region.

"The southern coast of Riau tend to have a faster arrival of the dry season compared to those of the north," Sugarin said.

Previously, local Regional Military Command (Korem) has stated 164 out of around 1,800 villages in Riau are prone to forest and land fires following the incoming dry season.

(Reporting by Muhammad Said/Uu.A059/A014)

Minister orders early containment of fires in Kalimantan, Sumatra
Haeril Halim, Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 29 Feb 16;

The Home Ministry has ordered local administrations in Kalimantan and Sumatra to launch preventive measures to contain forest fire after the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) discovered a growing number of hot spots in the two provinces.

In Sumatra, small fires were detected in 68 locations on Sunday, which, if not tackled immediately could grow bigger to become forest fires in the near future. Satellite data also showed 38 hot spots in East Kalimantan and one in North Kalimantan on the same day.

The ministry said on Sunday that local administrations in the two provinces had followed up on its instructions by launching a joint operation with local branches of the BNPB, the police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to contain the growing hot spots.

Failures to contain hot spots last year resulted in the burning of 2.61 million hectares of forest and peatlands in Sumatra and Kalimantan, causing a choking haze for about five months and leaving 21 people dead and more than a half-a-million people suffering from respiratory problems.

“Local administrations [must also] map areas prone to fires in their jurisdictions. They are cooperating with all related parties including the police, the TNI, social and health agencies and the Indonesian Red Cross [PMI],” Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo told The Jakarta Post.

A problem with the instruction is that failure to comply with it carries no punishment or sanctions for local officers, but Tjahjo said that tight monitoring would be carried out by the ministry to ensure that local leaders did their best to prevent forest fires.

“If they cannot afford preventative action [...] they should make a report to the central government,” Tjahjo added.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho confirmed on Sunday that local efforts had been made in Sumatra and Kalimantan to put out the growing small fires, and had already decreased the number of hot spots from 69 in Sumatra and 24 in East Kalimantan on Saturday.

However, the number of fires in North Kalimantan increased to four on Sunday due to intensive land clearing by local farmers.

“Kutai Kartanegara and East Kutai [regencies] started to see fires 2 weeks ago. Our satellite always detects new fires there. It means that new land clearing keeps happening,” Sutopo added.

Last year’s fire crisis cost the economy Rp 221 trillion (US$16.5 billion), or around 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP, or more than double what was spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami.

In addition, efforts to extinguish the fires cost the BNPB alone around Rp 734.5 billion. That amount does not include the hundreds of billions of rupiah spent by related ministries and government agencies on fire-containment efforts last year.

Fire-containment efforts in Kalimantan and Sumatra this year include the establishment of canal separators in a number places, Sutopo explained, adding that “any emergence of new fires will be automatically dealt with by local officers”.

Although it is difficult to imagine no fires at all in Kalimantan and Sumatra due to the huge area of peatlands and forests prone to fires there, this year’s fires are expected to be far less serious than last year’s because 2016 has seen a relatively wet dry season compared with 2015.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon is expected to end in April, then the onset of La Niña will be stronger which will make this year’s dry season relatively wet across Indonesia. This situation will assist fire containment efforts for the whole year,” Sutopo added.

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Indonesia: Jakarta Suburbs Report Heavy Flooding, Landslide

Vento Saudale Jakarta Globe 28 Feb 16;

Jakarta. While Jakarta suffered relatively minor inundations after hours of rain on Sunday (28/02) morning, its suburbs reported massive flooding and a landslide.

The overflowing Cimanceuri river in Tangerang, just west of the capital, forced hundreds of residents from 10 nearby villages to evacuate their homes as water levels reached up to 80 centimeters in height. There have been no injuries so far.

“We are trying to get the central government to dredge the river , because it is their responsibility,” said district head Ahmed s Zaki Iskandar.

Meanwhile, five housing complexes in Depok, on the southern outskirts of Jakarta, have been inundated by rainwater reaching nearly one meter in height.

Heavy rain also triggered a landslide in Bogor, where mud from a 30-meter cliffside collapsed onto a house in the village of Bubulak. No casualty was reported.

Floods inundate 10 villages in Tangerang
Antara 28 Feb 16;

Tangerang (ANTARA News) - Floods inundated thousands of houses in 10 villages in Tangerang District of Banten Province on Sunday.

Head of Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency of Tangerang Teteng Jumara said here Sunday that the high intensity rain over the last two days had caused the local Cimanceuri River to overflow its banks and and sent floods to the region.

Water reaching 40 until 80 cm has inundated ten villages in the region namely Gelam, Kadu Agung, Pasir Nangka, Cibadak, Jengkol, Gelam Jaya, Mekar Sari, Klebet, Pagedangan Ilir, and the Permata Housing.

The villages spread to several subdistricts such as Tigarakasa, Kresek, Rajeg, Kemiri and Kronjo.

"Residents whose houses are inundated have been evacuated to some secure locations such as religious buildings and schools," Jumara said.

Some villagers have also evacuated themselves to the houses of their relatives which are not affected by the floods.

Local authority has established emergency tents and public kitchens to help the victims and some disaster mitigation posts in Tigaraksa, Pasar Kemis, Rajeg , Kronjo and Cikupa to monitor the disaster mitigation and coordination.

Some logistics have been distributed to the victims such as rice, blankets, instant noodles, baby food, mineral water and biscuits.

(Reporting by Adityawarman/Uu.A059/A014)

Bogor's Katulampa Dam at Level Four Alert, Jakarta Braces for Floods
Jakarta Globe 28 Feb 16;

Bogor. The Greater Jakarta area faces a high risk of floods as hours of rain on Sunday (28/02) morning raised the water level at Bogor's Katulampa dam, raising the alert level to four.

Rain of medium intensity started at about 5 a.m. on Sunday in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Bekasi, as well as the West Java districts of Karawang, Subang, Purwakarta, Cianjur and Sukabumi, lasting approximately six hours. By 8.15 a.m., however, the water level of Ciliwing River at Katulampa dam had jumped from 20 centimeters to 70 centimeters.

“And by 8:39 a.m., [the water level] had reached 80 centimeters, which is a level four alert. We predict that it would increase as rain continues to fall in [the hilly resort area of] Puncak,” Katulampa monitoring chief Andi told state-run news agency Antara.

According to Bogor's Weather, Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency, the rain will continue to pour through the evening, warning Jakarta of flooding within the next 12 hours.

The Duri Kepa church in West Jakarta is already inundated by waters of up to 30 centimeters in height. Similar flooding have been reported in the Tangerang neighborhoods of Kosambi, Periuk Damai and Prima, on the western outskirts of the capital.

Meanwhile, flooding on Jalan AMD X Kreo in Ciledug, Tangerang, and Pondok Labu in South Jakarta has reached 1.5 meters.

Officials are also urging drivers to exercise caution when passing through the Kebon Jeruk toll gate in West Jakarta, due to water levels of up to 20 centimeters in height.

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Indonesia: Traditional markets to join pay-per-plastic bag program

Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post 29 Feb 16;

As modern retailers begin to implement the plastic reduction policy, traditional markets in Bali are following suit.

At Agung Peninjoan traditional market in Denpasar, vendors have stopped using plastic bags and now use paper bags instead.

One seller, Kadek Sariasih, said she was more than happy to support the plastic reduction policy by using paper bags, which are provided by the market’s operator.

“I feel happy giving paper bags to customers instead of plastic bags. I used to use plastic to pack the things in,” said 29-year-old Sariasih while putting a big load of chilis into a paper bag for a customer.

Recently, the market’s management launched a program that required sellers to change to paper bags, making it one of two traditional markets — the other being Sindu market in Sanur — to participate in the plastic diet.

Head of Agung Peninjoan market’s management, Nyoman Suwarta, said the program was aimed at educating vendors and customers about the danger of plastic for the environment.

As a start, the operator made the paper bags by themselves and distributed 300 to each vendor during the program’s launch.

But with a total of around 350 vendors, Suwarta admitted that the first lot was far from enough to replace plastic bags altogether. “The paper bags are only part of our attempt to raise awareness. We hope that vendors will make paper bags by themselves in the future,” Suwarta said.

A few modern retailers in Bali have implemented the plastic bag policy, such as Alfamart and Hardy’s, and some will start implementing it in the near future.

Denpasar Environment Agency head Anak Agung Bagus Sudharsana said the plastic bag payment program would be implemented in several phases. “Our target is for all modern retailers and traditional market in Denpasar to have implemented the plastic bag policy by June on World Environment Day,” he said.

He said the policy was expected to reduce plastic garbage in the city by around 30 percent. Denpasar produces at least 3,200 cubic meters of garbage every day, 30 percent of which is plastic.

Bali Environment Education Center (PPLH) stated that the policy should be accompanied by other programs to make it more effective.

PPLH director Catur Yudha Haryani said the policy would be useless if the price of plastic bags was too cheap, adding it should be set at Rp 3,000 (22 US cents) per bag in traditional markets and Rp 5,000 in modern supermarket.

Plastic bag charge levied on customers too low: Bandung mayor
Antara 29 Feb 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Mayor of Bandung Ridwan Kamil believes that the price of a plastic bag at Rp200, or less than two cents, being charged to customers is too low.

"For metropolitan cities, it is too cheap," the mayor stated here, Sunday.

The price will be evaluated in June 2016, and he hopes that it would be increased to more than Rp two thousand per bag.

"It should be higher than the charge for using public toilets at Rp two thousand, I think," he noted.

As the mayor of Bandung, which is a shopping tourism destination, Kamil has expressed his support to the governments policy to charge shoppers who ask for plastic bags.

Most of the waste in the capital of West Java comprises plastic, according to a survey conducted by the citys urban planning unit.

"A study conducted by the urban planning unit revealed that floods in Bandung were caused by wastes blocking the sewage system, and 70 percent of the waste was plastic," Kamil remarked.

It is time to encourage the people to carry their own shopping bags to markets, he added.

Effective from February 21, customers in 23 cities have to pay for the plastic bags they use to take home their purchases.(*)

Ambon Legislator Laments 'Flawed' Implementation of Paid Plastic Bag Policy
Vonny Litamahuputty & Jeis Montesori Jakarta Globe 1 Mar 16;

Ambon. A legislator in Ambon, Maluku province, has criticized the central government's implementation of the new policy that requires businesses to charge for plastic shopping bags, saying that it has led to confusion and discrepancies.

Ambon is one of 20 cities nationwide to adopt the policy, initiated by the Ministry for the Environment in an effort to reduce pollution caused by plastic bags. The ministry has however provided provincial and local governments with the discretion to formulate how much customers would have to pay for plastic bags.

"Some [retailers in Ambon] charge anything between Rp 500 and Rp 5,000 [4 cents to 40 cents] per bag, with no regulations to refer to. This disadvantages customers," Ambon Legislative Council member Jusuf Latumeten said on Tuesday (01/03).

Jusuf urged the city administration to reconsider the program, saying that it is placing a heavy burden on local residents amid the poor economic conditions in the city.

City secretary A.G. Latuheru said his office would evaluate the situation and formulate the best price customers should pay for plastic shopping bags.

"We will fix every flaw so that the policy will bring good to the people instead of burdening them," he said.

Indonesia ranks second to China as the world's largest producers of plastic waste, generating an estimated 187.2 million tons per year, according to a study published in the journal Science last year.

Education crucial to success of plastic bag charge policy: Observer
Antara 3 Mar 16;

Padang (ANTARA News) - Education and public awareness campaigns are crucial for the success of the governments plastic bag charge policy aimed at reducing the volume of plastic wastes, according to an environmental expert.

If the objective of levying a charge on the use of plastic bags is intended to conserve the environment, then it should be made known to the public through education and public awareness campaigns, Fadjar Goembira of the University of Andalas stated here.

Goembira observed that some customers were still bewildered on being asked to pay for plastic bags that they will take home. They thought it was based on economic consideration, he added.

"The objective and goal of applying the plastic bag charge policy should be explained in detail," he remarked.

The government should offer a detailed explanation to the public that the policy is aimed at reducing plastic wastes that have serious impacts on the environment.

Once the people become aware of the impacts of plastic wastes on the environment, they would voluntarily bring their own shopping bags from home, he pointed out.

Goembira suggested that the government should regularly evaluate and monitor the implementation of its policy to gauge the extent of its success or failure.

Plastic bag charge too low to have any impact, sniffs mayor
Ganug Nugroho Adi and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post 8 Mar 16;

The administration of Surakarta, Central Java, has withdrawn from a national policy that requires modern retailers to charge customers for plastic bags, deeming the initiative unlikely to cut plastic bag consumption.

Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo said that the charge, at Rp 200 (15 US cents) per bag, was too low to serve as a deterrent, as is intended.

“The plastic bag policy will not change people’s habits, especially because plastic bags are sold for only Rp 200. If the price were set at Rp 20,000 per bag, people would choose to bring their own bags,” Rudy said at Surakarta city hall on Monday.

The Jakarta administration has also withdrawn from the program, and will instead enforce a 2013 bylaw on waste management, which Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja said was sufficient to reduce plastic waste.

The policy was issued by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya on National Waste Awareness Day through a circular, and stipulates that retailers must not give plastic bags to customers for free, but must charge at least Rp 200 for each bag.

An agreement between the Indonesian Retailers Association (Aprindo) and city administrations was recently signed in Makassar, South Sulawesi, also on National Waste Awareness Day.

When the initiative was launched, the Surakarta administration said it had been encouraging people to take their own non-plastic bags when shopping. If modern shops still provided paid plastic bags, Rudy said, the plastic reduction policy would be meaningless.

He went on that the administration would cooperate with the Surakarta branch of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to produce shopping bags from non-plastic and recycled materials such as recyclable paper, rattan, natural fibers and coconut leaves.

The mayor is also considering asking private companies, through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, to participate in the plan.

“We will sit down and discuss programs to produce recycled shopping bags,” Rudy said.

Separately, Surakarta Kadin chair Sri Haryanto said that businesspeople in the city would support the efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags, adding that Kadin was engaged in discussions with a number of MSMEs to produce environmentally friendly shopping bags.

“I think such programs could benefit MSMEs. We hope they will come up with creative products to increase the choices available,” Sri said.

Meanwhile, modern retailers in Surakarta are ready to comply with Rudi’s instructions.

Alfamart regional spokesperson Firly Firlandia said the company had applied the policy according to the circular issued by the environment ministry.

Responding to the mayor’s instruction to ignore the policy, however, Firly said that Alfamart would fully support the instruction, but added that the management would first wait for an official letter from the city administration regarding the matter.

“We are in support of reducing plastic waste. Doing so is in the interests of everyone. However, before implementing the [mayor’s] instruction, we first need a legal basis, for example a mayoral regulation or a circular from the city administration. We need something official,” Firly said.

Surakarta produces 260 tons of garbage every day, 20 percent of which is plastic, and only 10 percent recyclable.

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As sea levels rise, economic damage piles up even faster: study

Alister Doyle Reuters Yahoo News 29 Feb 16;

OSLO (Reuters) - As sea levels rise, threatening cities from New York to Shanghai, the economic damage will increase even faster, scientists said on Monday.

Extreme floods whipped up by storms will become ever more costly for cities as ocean levels edge up around the world's coasts in coming decades, they wrote in a study that could help guide governments budgeting to protect everything from buildings and basements to metro systems.

"The damage from sea level rise rises faster than sea level rise itself," co-author Juergen Kropp, part of a team at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters of the findings.

For the Danish capital Copenhagen, for instance, a moderate sea level rise of 11 cm (4 inches) by 2050 from 2010 levels would cause about a billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year in extra damage if no protective action is taken, the study estimated.

But the costs would quadruple to 4 billion euros if the rate of sea level rise roughly doubles to 25 cm by 2050, in line with the worst scenarios projected by a U.N. scientific panel, they wrote in the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

World sea levels are creeping higher, the U.N. panel says, partly because global warming is adding water to the oceans by melting glaciers from the Andes to the Alps and parts of vast ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.

The Potsdam scientists said that mathematical models they developed to estimate rising costs would work around the world. "You can apply it in Tokyo, New York or Mumbai," Kropp said.

The exact costs of sea level rise, which could in the worst case reach about a metre by 2100, are extremely uncertain.

One study in 2014 estimated it could cost anywhere from 0.3 percent to 9 percent of world gross domestic product a year by 2100.

Jochen Hinkel of the Global Climate Forum in Berlin, the lead author of that study, said it illustrated vast risks but was based on the implausible assumption that governments would take no protective action.

Building coastal barriers would be far cheaper, Hinkel said.

"People have adapted to sea-level rise in the past and will do so in the future," he said, noting protective measures for cities such as Tokyo or Jakarta, which have been sinking relative to sea level because of local subsidence.

(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Heinrich

When sea levels rise, damage costs rise even faster
EurkAlert 28 Feb 16;

Damages from extreme events like floods are even more relevant than the mean sea level itself when it comes to the costs of climate impacts for coastal regions. However, while it is now rather well understood how sea-levels will rise in the future, only small progress has been made estimating how the implied damage for cities at the coasts will increase during the next decades. A team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now provides a method to quantify monetary losses from coastal floods under sea-level rise. For the first time, the scientists show that the damage costs consistently increase at a higher rate than the sea-level rise itself.

"When sea levels rise, damage costs rise even faster, our analyses show," explains Markus Boettle, lead author of the study published in the journal Natural Hazards and the Earth System. Rising sea levels as a major impact of climate change pose a risk for coastal regions - the mean regional sea level rise takes effect by more frequent and more intense coastal flood events. "At the same time, the severity of flood impacts is not only determined by environmental factors, but also to a significant extent by human decisions: flood defense measures can counteract the increasing flood risk," says Boettle. "Our study illustrates that the complexity of climate change, adaptation, and flood damage can be disentangled by surprisingly simple mathematical functions to provide estimates of the average annual costs of sea-level rise over a longer time period."

The scientists developed a method that translates the occurrence probability of flood events into the probability of inundation damage. Expected regional sea level rise is taken into account by separating two components, namely the increasing number of events and the increasing severity of each one. Moreover, potential flood defense measures like dikes or sea walls can be included into the calculations as they prevent or mitigate damages from storm surges.

Flood risks, damages, adaptation

Although coastal cities are different around the world and also flood-related threats have their own characteristics at different coasts, the scientists found general results. "Our equations basically work in Mumbai, New York, Hamburg - Pacific, Atlantic, or North Sea. In any location worldwide the same simple and universal expressions hold true," says co-author Jürgen Kropp, deputy chair of PIK research domain Climate Impacts & Vulnerabilities. For an exemplary implementation of their method, the scientists applied it to the city of Copenhagen in Denmark: They found that a moderate mean sea level rise of 11 centimeters until mid-century would in the same period double economic losses in this city, given no action is taken.

"A concise assessment of potential economic consequences is indispensable for appraising the efficiency of adaptation measures," explains co-author Diego Rybski. "Even when temperatures stabilize, sea levels will continue to rise and shape our coastlines for future generations. So, additional preventive measures need to be considered in addition to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, to help coastal regions especially in transition and developing countries to adapt and to limit damage costs."

A large share of the world population lives in coastal regions

Nevertheless, some constraints of the methodology remain, which was developed in the broader context of the European-funded RAMSES project. For instance, extreme events and attributed damages are not evenly distributed in time - there are years without any damage at all and others when quite unlikely floods may occur. The approach cannot forecast single events and associated damages, but estimates damage expectations over longer time-spans. Despite of the lack of knowledge regarding the timing of the extreme events, the statistical spreading of damage over years has been quantified by the researchers.

"A large share of the world population lives in coastal regions," says Jürgen Kropp, director of the RAMSES project. "In the light of limited funds for adaptation it is an asset to provide comparable cost assessments. While mitigation remains of vital importance to keep climate impacts on a still manageable scale, an adaptation perspective can help to limit damage costs in the right places."


Article: Boettle, M., Rybski, D., Kropp, J.P. (2016): Quantifying the effect of sea level rise and flood defence - a point process perspective on coastal flood damage. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

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