Best of our wild blogs: 15 Mar 16

Rocking shore at Lazarus
wild shores of singapore

Identifying the Smaller Charadrius Plovers
Singapore Bird Group

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Measures taken to ensure Singapore can cope with higher intensity storms: MEWR

Flood-prone areas in the Republic have been reduced from 3,200 hectares in the 1970s, to 32 hectares today. However, with the unpredictable weather, PUB will continue its efforts to minimise the risk of flooding, says Dr Amy Khor.

Liyana Othman Channel NewsAsia 14 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: Since the start of 2014, measures have been taken to ensure the Republic can cope with storms of higher intensity, said Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament on Monday (Mar 14).

Dr Khor said measures were taken in January 2014 to ensure that Singapore's drainage system could cope with storms of higher intensity. In addition, there are minimum platform level requirements for all developments, particularly for critical ones like underground MRT stations. This prevents flood water from entering these facilities and disrupting essential services.

"Beyond structural enhancements, PUB has instituted measures to help the public, including essential service providers, better prepare for flash floods,” she said.

“PUB has a network of about 200 water level sensors and 170 CCTVs installed to remotely monitor drain and flood conditions. This information is freely available on PUB’s website, social media platforms and mobile apps."

The national water agency is also maintaining a drainage improvement programme, which enhances the capacities of drains and canals. Since August 2011, PUB has implemented a free SMS alert system to provide the public with early warnings of heavy rain and rising water levels in canals.

Flood-prone areas in the Republic have been reduced from 3,200 hectares in the 1970s, to 32 hectares today, she added.

However, with the unpredictable weather brought about by climate change, PUB will continue its efforts to minimise the risk of flooding, Dr Khor said.

- CNA/ek

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In pictures: Jubilee Whale Exhibit at Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dawn Karen Tan, Ngau Kai Yan, Channel NewsAsia 14 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: Remember the female sperm whale that washed ashore in late-July last year? Its skeleton is now on display at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The Jubilee Whale Exhibit - at the mammals section of the museum - was officially unveiled on Monday evening (Mar 14) by Ms Ho Ching, chief executive of Temasek Holdings.

After deciding to salvage the whale last year, the museum launched an appeal for funds to preserve its skeleton. Nicknamed "Jubi", the exhibit will help educate visitors on whale biology and the threats faced by these mammals.

The whale, which had been discovered off the coast of Jurong Island, had presented authorities with a conundrum: Allow it to sink and float away, or salvage it? The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum chose the latter.

“Surprisingly, everyone came together, doing a lot of abnormal things, and against all the odds ... we managed to get the whale to stay in Singapore waters, bring it all the way to Tuas and get it ready for processing,” said CEO of the museum Mr Peter Ng.

Nine museum staff were deployed to salvage the 10.5-metre specimen. Earning the nickname "Jubi Lee" - as she was found during Singapore's Jubilee year - the whale was to become the first sperm whale ever recorded in the coastal waters around Peninsular Malaysia.

Analysis from the DNA team discovered that Jubi had the same mitochondrial genetic signature common in sperm whales found in the North Pacific Ocean.

Examination of the carcass shed some light on Jubi's life and her final days.

With her stomach filled with indigestible squid beaks, it was found that she mainly fed on live squid, but there was also another troubling discovery - marine trash.

It was apparent that she had not eaten recently. Her body bore a terrible wound - a huge gash possibly incurred from a boat's propeller. She also suffered several broken bones in her spine. Scientists deduced the injury had left her unable to hunt. She had likely died just a few days before being discovered.

Protected by a whaling moratorium, sperm whales are now listed as vulnerable to extinction by conservation authorities.

This is not the first time the museum has had a large whale. The famous "Singapore Whale" was displayed in the old museum until 1974. After it was given away to another museum, all efforts to retrieve it had failed.

Staff at the museum saw Jubi's arrival as a gift.

Mr Ng said: “For fate or whatever reason, it has come back into our hands. It shows what crazy people can do in desperate situations. At the end of the day, we can come together to get something important done.

“Is the whale important? Oh yes, it's important, because it’s a symbol - a symbol that we are doing something right.”

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942 stray dogs, 888 stray cats and 623 wild monkeys euthanised in 2015: MND

There are an estimated 60,000 stray cats, 7,000 stray dogs and 1,900 wild monkeys in Singapore, said MND. A total of 265 dogs and 129 cats were rehomed last year.
Channel NewsAsia 14 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) euthanised almost 2,500 animals - 942 dogs, 888 cats and 623 monkeys - in 2015, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said on Monday (Mar 14). Another 265 dogs and 129 cats were rehomed.

This is out of the estimated population of 60,000 stray cats, 7,000 stray dogs and 1,900 wild monkeys in Singapore, he added in response to a question by Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng, who is the founder of the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society.

AVA has to impound strays when the public raises safety concerns, Mr Wong said. AVA will then work with animal welfare groups to rehome the animals, while those that are not rehomed - such as aggressive or sick animals - will be humanely euthanised as a "last resort".

AVA will "continue to work with animal welfare group to rehome stray animals," Mr Wong added.

- CNA/av

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Malaysia: Johor going for long-term answers to water woes

The Star 15 Mar 16;

KOTA TINGGI: Johor is confident that there will be a long-term solution to water woes that hit several of its districts with the completion of the Raw Water Project to Rapid (Pamer).

Also in the pipeline is the expediting of paperwork for the water transfer project at the Sungai Layang dam.

State secretary Datuk Ismail Karim said the Pamer project was on track and was expected to be completed by the end of May.

“This will benefit about 100,000 people in Pengerang and Bandar Penawar,” he said.

He pointed out that the RM700mil project would not only meet the demand for the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) but would benefit about 60,000 account users from the Sungai Lebam dam.

Ismail said the phase for this project also included the supplying of raw water to the Sungai Layang dam near Pasir Gudang.

“Once Pamer is fully completed, it will be able to supply more than 230 million litres of water to the PIPC area and the balance will be channelled to the Sungai Lebam dam,” he said.

“Since early this month, between 40 and 60 million litres of water have been supplied to the dam to sustain more than 60,000 accounts there,” he added.

Ismail said this after the soft launch of the raw water project operational to Sungai Lebam dam here yesterday.

He also said that the state government would expedite the paperwork for the Sungai Layang dam here following the approval of a RM100mil by the Federal Government on its water transfer project.

He also said that the amount would not be a problem for the state government as they wanted to solve the water woes quickly.

“The state government has debts with the Government – from constructing the affordable homes project – and this RM100mil will offset from the total amount,” he said.

It was recently reported that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has approved the amount that would be offset from the RM300mil which Johor owed the Government.

The Pamer project involves a 77km pipeline from Sungai Seluyut in Kota Tinggi to Pengerang for the oil and gas needs in the area.

However, as the project is not fully operational in Pengerang, the state hopes to build additional pipelines to divert the water to the Sungai Layang dam.

Second phase of project will ease water woes
AHMAD FAIRUZ OTHMAN New Straits Times 14 Mar 16;

KOTA TINGGI: The newly-launched second phase of Petronas' Raw Water Supply Project to RAPID (PAMER) which will transfer 40 to 60 million litres of raw water from Sungai Seluyut to the Sungai Lebam dam will prevent further cases of water supply rationing in the Pengerang subdistrict.

State secretary Datuk Ismail Karim said the project was vital as the water supply to Pengerang and many areas in Johor relied on the amount of rainfall, and this was badly affected in the last four years due to a drop in rainfall patterns.

"The early water supply project which will supply 40 to 60 million litres of water daily from Sungai Seluyut to Sungai Lebam dam will indirectly solve the issue of water rationing specifically for Pengerang residents. "The state government and Petronas are extremely concerned with the plight of Pengerang folk who previously endured rationing due to low rainfall.

"This was beyond our powers because the rainfall amounts have dropped drastically in the past four years (in the area).

Previously, there would be 3,000 mililitres of rainfall per year but this has been reduced to 1,600 mililitres per year," said Ismail after officially launching the operations of the early raw water supply phase under PAMER in Sungai Seluyut, here. Ismail said PAMER will alleviate the water woes that were faced by 50,000 Pengerang residents who had to ensure water rationing last year. PAMER, which is currently in its second phase of development is expected to be completed in May 31 this year.

Once completed PAMER will supply 230 million litres per day of raw water to the Pengerang Integrated Complex, which includes RAPID (Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development), and another 30 million litres per day of raw water to the Sungai Lebam dam to supplement existing water supply for public consumption in Pengerang.

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Malaysia: Forest City, the first artificial island to get duty-free status

The Star 15 Mar 16;

SINGAPORE: The Forest City, a mega development on four man-made islands in Iskandar Malaysia, has been accorded duty-free area status since March 6.

This is the first artificial island granted the status in Malaysia compared with the natural islands – Labuan, Langkawi and Tioman.

It is also dubbed South-East Asia’ largest mixed-use green development. The objective of a duty-free area is to encourage trade and tourism in Malaysia.

Labuan, Langkawi and Tioman were declared duty-free islands on Sept 1, 1956, Jan 1, 1987, and, Sept 1, 2002 respectively.

The three duty-free islands have been placed under different Customs Acts but it has yet to be established which Act the Forest City would be governed.

A check on the Customs Department’s website showed that all goods at a duty-free island are duty-exempt except petroleum and petroleum-manufactured products.

However, all types of motorised transportation are dutiable at Tioman. For Langkawi, cement, marble, rubber and anchovies brought to the island from outside Malaysia will be dutied.

According to chief executive officer of Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd, Mo Bin, the first duty-free shopping mall will be ready by year-end at the Fisherman's Wharf on Island 1 of Forest City. The developer said the mall would have a wide range of leading international brands and products.

Potential buyers are talking about buying condominiums and high-rise coastal residences offered at the island. – Bernama

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Malaysia: Schools should stop outdoor activities if heatwave persists

The Star 15 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR : School heads have been told to stop outdoor activities if the weather gets too hot.

“A ministry circular empowers principals and headmasters, under such instances when the weather is too hot, to take action such as stop having classes outdoors,” said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan.

“If a school decides to close, it will need to replace the day but it does not have to do so if it has been instructed to close,” he said after opening the International Policy Dialogue on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education 2016.

On Sunday, Kamalanathan said the ministry would decide if schools should be temporarily closed due to the heatwave.

He said since it was the school holidays now, children could stay indoor and minimise outdoor activities until the schools reopened next week.

On the dialogue, he said: “When we look at the applications that come in for universities, 60% of students are applying to enter the arts stream.

“The ministry is laying down the foundation work for STEM.”

Docs: Take extra care over outdoor activities
The Star 15 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: Outdoor enthusiasts should refrain from getting exposed to excessive sunlight due to the unusually hot weather.

“Being outdoors can stimulate one’s body temperature to rise,” said Medical Practitioner Coalitions Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) vice-president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah.

There has been about a 10% increase in patients who visited Dr Raj’s clinic over illness related to heat wave such as leg eczema, heat rash and body aches.

“Initially, I suspected it was viral fever but it turned out that it was because of the hot weather,” he said.

Many of Dr Raj’s patients are children and senior citizens. He believes adults are healthier as they can protect themselves.

“Generally, adults drink more water during hot days and stay in air-conditioned rooms compared to children and senior citizens,” he said.

Family medicine registrar Dr Shaiful Ehsan said the sudden change in weather can cause dehydration due to loss of fluid in the body.

“Following this, several vital organs may not function well as a result of insufficient oxygen supply,” he added.

“Dehydration does not happen in a short time.

“It will only happen because of long hours of exposure to the sun,” he said, adding that symptoms of heat stroke are headache, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and muscle cramps.

“If you experience any of those symptoms, it is best to get some rest so that your body can cool down,” Dr Shaiful said.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Ashok Zachariah Philip recommended Malaysians to stay indoors during these days.

“If you need to go outdoors, make it quick.

“Protect your skin by wearing long sleeves or apply sunblock to your skin,” he said.

General practitioner Dr C.S. Foo said that with sudden changes in the weather, drinking sufficient water daily would help prevent one from getting dehydrated.

“Living in this tropical weather, it is best to drink about 2.5 litres of water daily.

“But, this may vary between age, gender and body weight of a person,” he said.

“There are four pillars to optimal health, namely regular exercise, balanced diet, lifestyle and supplement consumption,” said Dr Foo, adding that one’s immune system was not built overnight.

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Malaysia: Hotspots bring about haze to Sabah’s western side

The Star 15 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Five hotspots over Sabah triggered by the El-Nino phenomena have brought in haze to the west coast and interiors of the state.

However, the Air Pollutant Index (API) remained moderate in Kota Kinabalu and Keningau yesterday as firemen continued to put out bush fires in several areas across the state.

Sabah Meteorological Depart­ment acting director Lim Ze Hui said the five hotspots included three in Keningau and one each in Beaufort and Tongod near Kinabatangan.

We expect the amount of rainfall that was below normal to continue until the end of April, he said amid reports that firemen were battling at least 20 bush fires a day currently.

Lim also said they expected the haze to continue until the dry season ends, though it might see some improvements based on wind conditions.

Large tracks of secondary jungles, orchards, small oil palm and rubber plantations have been destroyed by fires while water shortages were also reported in more than a hundred villages here.

The visibility dropped to 7km for Kota Kinabalu yesterday and 6km in Keningau.

Meanwhile, State Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi urged the people to refrain from doing anything that could trigger a fire.

He said the number of fires and emergency calls relating to the El-Nino effect had increased over the past few months.

With every fire, crops and property, including national heritage such as forests and so on, would be destroyed, he said.

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Malaysia: Turtle conservation awareness bearing results

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 15 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A growing awareness of turtle conservation has seen more members of the public surrendering their endangered turtle pets anonymously.

Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research (Foster) vice-president James Leong was taken by surprise when he found four baby green turtles placed in a bucket of water that was left at the entrance to his office in Sandakan on Sunday.

“It is a good sign,” he said.

“People are giving up the endangered species and passing it to us for its survival and conservation efforts.”

He believed that the person who surrendered the turtles wanted to do it anonymously for fear of legal action by authorities.

“I believe he or she might have read about the work done by Foster on Libaran Island (off Sandakan) and came to us,” he added.

Foster operates a turtle hatchery at Libaran Island where conservation programme is being implemented by collaborating with the Sabah Wildlife Department.

The programme includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtle for international and local students.

Leong said that the baby turtles, aged about a month or two, were released back in waters off Libaran.

Green and Hawksbill turtles are both totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.

Anyone caught in possession or consuming turtle eggs could be fined RM50,000 or be imprisoned five years, or both, if convicted.

Since Foster started work on Libaran island, turtle landings on the island have seen a marked increase.

From November 2011 till December 2015, 21,672 baby turtles have been released into the ocean from Taman Hadiah; of which 14,851 are Green Turtles and 6,821 are Hawksbill Turtles.

Foster president Alexander Yee said they would continue step­­p­ing up awareness education at schools.

They would also produce a booklet on Sea Turtle Volunteer Programme on Libaran Island in the next six months.

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Indonesia: Slash-and-burn method contributes to hotspots in Riau: Official

Antara 14 Mar 16;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Several hotspots in Bengkalis District, Riau, are caused by the extreme weather during the dry season and the acts of irresponsible people who employ the slash-and-burn method for land clearing, stated a mitigation agency official.

The hotspots were detected in the sub-districts of Bantan and Bengkalis, Head of the Disaster Mitigation Agency of Bengkalis Districts Fire Brigade Division Suiswantoro stated here on Monday in response to the appearance of hotspots during this years dry season.

The hotspots were detected in the palm plantation area of Muntai Village.

"Five hectares of the palm plantation land is on fire," he pointed out.

However, Suiswantoro said he had yet to ascertain the total affected area, but most of the hotspots were found in peatlands. He further added that his men had been making efforts to extinguish the fires.

Meanwhile, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG)-Pekanbaru Station, 12 hotspots were detected in the districts of Kepulauan Meranti and Bengkalis on Monday.

"In Bengkalis, there are four hotspots, while eight others were detected in Meranti," Sugarin from the BMKG-Pekanbaru Station stated.

Nine of the 12 hotspots were believed to be forest and land fires, with confidence level of more than 70 percent, he revealed.

In response to the discovery of hotspots in certain areas of Riau, the provincial government had declared an emergency alert status on Monday, indicating the need to expedite the efforts to prevent and handle forest and land fires.

"We responded to the fact that several district governments have already declared an emergency alert status, conveying the gravity of the situation to the central government," Acting Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman affirmed.

The status, which would remain effective for three months, was aimed at expediting measures for handling and preventing forest and land fires, he said, adding that Meranti, Bengkalis, Dumai, Rokan Hilir, Siak and Pelalawan district governments had declared the emergency alert status.

Speaking to journalists here, Rachman stated that this anticipatory step was taken after consulting with BMKGs Pekanbaru station, which had forecast that the intensity of rainfall in Riau was on the lower side.

With the alert status upgraded to emergency, the relevant authorities will be able to focus their efforts to prevent and extinguish forest and land fires through the optimum use of resources, he noted.

Last year, thick haze arising from the forest and land fires affected Riau and several other provinces in Sumatra Island, crippling commercial flights and triggering acute respiratory infections among several people.

(Reported by Fazar Muhardi & Anggi Romadhoni/Uu.R013/INE/KR-BSR/O001)

Local governments lack funds for peatland restoration
Anton Hermansyah, 14 Mar 16;

The central government has instructed local governments to intensify their peatland restoration programs, but has not allocated funds from the state budget, leaving them seriously short of funds for the program.

The government established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) in January.

Jambi Governor Zumi Zola said on Monday his administration had used funds from the provincial budget and contributions to implement the program, but the money was not enough.

"We asked members of the House of Representative when some of them observed [conditions] in Jambi whether we could use the village funds (dana desa) to finance the program, but they have been unable to give an answer," Zumi told on Monday.

Forest fires can currently be found in Riau and Jambi provinces despite it being the rainy season.

As part of efforts to restore peatland, the local governments are rushing to construct canal dams before the dry season arrives. Canals are built to dry out peatland before planting. As dry peatland easily burns, canal blocking is used to keep the peat wet and prevent it catching fire.

"Riau constructed 4,700 canals, 4,164 of which were developed by private companies, 385 by the police and others by individuals and local governments," Riau Governor Annas Maamun said.

The central government aims to build 67,000 canal dams within two months as the rainy season will end in June or July. It will focus on 2 million hectares in four regencies: Pulang Pisau regency in Central Kalimantan, Ogan Komering Ilir in South Sumatra, Musi Banyuasin in South Sumatra and Meranti in Riau.

"The cost of restoration is not cheap. There are two estimations -- the World Bank said it would require US$500 per hectare and CIFOR said $3,000 per hectare to restore the peatland over five years, while the government estimates it will take something between that," BRG chairman Nazir Foead told

The canal dams and embung (ponds of stagnant water) need to be constructed for water stocks. When peatland is on fire, water can be obtained quickly. (bbn)

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Indonesia warns of fire risk in haze-prone regions in March-April

Reuters 14 Mar 16;

Indonesia expects dryer than normal weather in several fire and haze-prone regions in western and central Indonesia in March and April, the state weather agency (BMKG) said on Monday, referring to a recent increase in fires and hotspots.

The region suffers every dry season from so-called haze caused by smoldering fires, often set deliberately to clear land for palm oil plantations on Sumatra and Borneo islands.

Fires were particularly bad in 2015 because of a prolonged dry season caused by the El Nino weather pattern, with smoke blanketing neighboring Singapore and Malaysia for weeks and drifting as far north as the Thai capital, Bangkok.

In October, senior government officials sought to divert blame for the fires and choking smog that had cost the country an estimated $16 billion, saying BMKG failed to predict the severity of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

"Riau in March and April has the potential for low rainfall, so the potential for fires is high," BMKG climatology chief Mulyono Rahadi Prabowo told reporters, referring to the province on the central eastern coast of Sumatra. "Eastern Kalimantan (on the east of the island of Borneo) also needs to be on the alert for forest fires."

Last week, Riau's governor declared a state of emergency among efforts to prevent a recurrence of the 2015 haze.

Another official at the weather bureau said there was a 50 percent chance of a La Nina weather pattern affecting Indonesia in the fourth quarter of this year, potentially causing a wetter than usual "dry" season and heavier rainy season.

"Usually commodities that collapse during a wet dry season are sugar and tobacco," said Nurhayati, who heads the BMKG agriculture climate forecasting division. Indonesia's coffee, cocoa and palm oil crops are unlikely to be impacted severely by La Nina, she said, while a wetter dry season benefits rice production.

In 2010, Indonesia's sugar production dropped by about one-third due to La Nina, she said.

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fergus Jensen)

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Philippines: Rising sea levels threaten 13.6 M Pinoys – Gore

Helen Flores and Alexis Romero The Philippine Star 15 Mar 16;

MANILA, Philippines - At least 13.6 million Filipinos living in coastal areas may have to relocate to higher ground due to the accelerating rise in sea levels brought by climate change.

This was the warning of environmental advocate and former US vice president Al Gore during the opening of the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Pasay City yesterday.

Gore, founder of the non-profit Climate Reality Project, said sea levels are rising fast due to global warming.

“Sea level in the Philippines is projected to rise two to three times faster than the global average,” Gore said, adding this exacerbates the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters.

Scientists have blamed man-made climate change for the fast rise in sea level in the past 2,800 years.

Gore’s documentary on global warming titled “An Inconvenient Truth” helped earn him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

He made a lengthy presentation on the extreme weather events brought by climate change in different parts of the world, particularly in developing nations.

The three-day workshop was attended by at least 700 climate activists all over Asia.

Sen. Loren Legarda, the event’s keynote speaker, said she would file an energy efficiency bill in the 17th Congress, as part of the country’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

Legarda said she would monitor the enforcement of laws that promote de-carbonization, including the Clean Air Act, Renewable Energy Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We will track compliance with equally important laws that help us prepare for climate realities, including the Clean Water Act, Climate Change Act, the Environmental Awareness and Education Act, the People’s Survival Fund Law and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act,” Legarda said.

She said she would push for the progressive reduction of least-efficient coal-fired power plants and work toward banning their construction.

Despite its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, the Aquino administration has approved 21 new coal-fired plant projects in the past five years.

Gore urged sectors demanding government action on climate change to continue what he described as a “moral struggle” amid the Philippines’ continued support for coal-fired power plants.

He compared the climate movement to those who fought for the abolition of slavery, civil rights, and the right of women to vote, saying such advocacies faced stiff resistance before they succeeded.

Gore said the people should pressure their leaders to act on climate change despite efforts by skeptics to muddle the issue.

He said that while the Philippines has experienced a number of weather-related disasters in almost two decades, the country is still reluctant to use clean energy.

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February breaks global temperature records by 'shocking' amount

Damian Carrington and Michael Slezak The Guardian 14 Mar 16;

February smashed a century of global temperature records by “stunning” margin, according to data released by Nasa.

The unprecedented leap led scientists, usually wary of highlighting a single month’s temperature, to label the new record a “shocker” and warn of a “climate emergency”.

The Nasa data shows the average global surface temperature in February was 1.35C warmer than the average temperature for the month between 1951-1980, a far bigger margin than ever seen before. The previous record, set just one month earlier in January, was 1.15C above the long-term average for that month.

“Nasa dropped a bombshell of a climate report,” said Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, who analysed the data on the Weather Underground website. “February dispensed with the one-month-old record by a full 0.21C – an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by.”

“This result is a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases,” said Masters and Henson. “We are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2C warming over pre-industrial levels.”

The UN climate summit in Paris in December confirmed 2C as the danger limit for global warming which should not be passed. But it also agreed agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5C, a target now looking highly optimistic.

Climate change is usually assessed over years and decades, and 2015 shattered the record set in 2014 for the hottest year seen, in data stretching back to 1850. The UK Met Office also expects 2016 to set a new record, meaning the global temperature record will have been broken for three years in a row.

One of the world’s three key temperature records is kept by Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and its director Prof Gavin Schmidt reacted to the February Giss temperature measurements with a simple “wow”. He tweeted:

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” said Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany. He told Fairfax Media: “This is really quite stunning ... it’s completely unprecedented.”

“This is a very worrying result,” said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, noting that each of the last five months globally have been hotter than any month preceding them.

“These results suggest that we may be even closer than we realised to breaching the [2C] limit. We have used up all of our room for manoeuvre. If we delay any longer strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like global mean surface temperature is likely to exceed the level beyond which the impacts of climate change are likely to be very dangerous.”

A major El Niño event, the biggest since 1998, is boosting global temperatures, but scientists are agreed that global warming driven by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions is by far the largest factor in the astonishing run of temperature records.

Prof Adam Scaife, at the UK Met Office, said the very low levels of Arctic ice were also helping to raise temperatures: “There has been record low ice in the Arctic for two months running and that releases a lot of heat.” He said the Met Office had forecast a record-breaking 2016 in December: “It is not as if you can’t see these things coming.”

Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, UK, said: “It is a pretty big jump between January and February, although this data from Nasa is only the first set of global temperature data. We will need to see what the figures from NOAA and the Met Office say. It is in line with our expectations that due to the continuing effect of greenhouse gas emissions, combined with the effects of El Niño on top, 2016 is likely to beat 2015 as the warmest year on record.”

The record for an annual increase of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, was also demolished in 2015.

Fossil fuel-burning and the strong El Niño pushed CO2 levels up by 3.05 parts per million (ppm) to 402.6 ppm compared to 2014. “CO2 levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years,” said Pieter Tans, lead scientist at Noaa’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “It’s explosive compared to natural processes.”

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