Best of our wild blogs: 20 Sep 17

8 Oct: Swapaholic at Marina Barrage
Green Drinks Singapore

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A BYO campaign kids can happily get stuck on

Samantha Boh Straits Times 20 Sep 17;

Seven-year-old Emmalyn Jonatan makes it a point not to take a plastic bag when she buys a fishcake - her favourite snack during recess.

It is a habit she has picked up at her school, which gives pupils a sticker each time they avoid using disposable packaging, be it a plastic bag or straw.

"I will tell the aunty (who runs the canteen stall) that I don't want a plastic bag. I've already collected two stickers," the Primary 1 pupil at Bukit Panjang Primary School told The Straits Times excitedly.

Pupils will get a certificate of achievement once they collect 10 stickers, and stand the chance to win one of three sets of tickets to visit the S.E.A Aquarium at Sentosa.

This initiative is part of green group Zero Waste SG's new Bring Your Own Schools campaign, which was launched at the school last week, and will last a month.

So far, the initiative has been launched at one other primary school, with 11 more schools, including two secondary schools, to follow next year.

"We hope to inculcate good (bring your own) habits among the young and encourage them to reduce (the use of) plastic disposables and protect the marine environment," said Zero Waste SG's executive director, Mr Eugene Tay.

He said the programme aims to help schoolchildren find out more about plastic disposables and marine litter through assembly talks and exhibitions, and to encourage them to bring their own reusables, such as bottle, container, utensils or bag.

Mr Bucktha Seelan, Bukit Panjang Primary School's principal, said: "The kids love the stickers. Sometimes you need to incentivise as we educate, because educating kids takes a while. While a number of them are excited about the prizes, we want to spread the message beyond that."

Currently only Primary 1 and 2 pupils get to participate in the programme. Mr Seelan said he will assess the results of the programme before he considers expanding it to the other levels.

The programme is part of a wider effort to go green at the school, which already encourages its pupils to recycle newspapers, drink cans and plastic bottles. This year it also held its first flea market, where it sold old clothes contributed by its pupils and their families.

"We don't think about just educating kids, we also use kids to educate their parents," added Mr Seelan.

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NParks opens two more healing gardens

TOH EE MING Today Online 20 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE — Two new therapeutic gardens — designed to provide respite and improve the mental well-being of visitors, especially seniors — were opened yesterday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park.

With three such gardens, including the first one at HortPark, and a fourth slated to open in Choa Chu Kang Park next year, the National Parks Board (NParks) said the network of such gardens is one of the key initiatives under the Action Plan for Successful Ageing announced by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing in 2015.

The 900 sq m therapeutic garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park has different plant zones, such as a fragrance zone, colours and textures zone, and a biodiversity zone, to help slow down the progression of dementia in elderly people.

For instance, fragrant-smelling herbs, such as lemongrass, have been picked to evoke memories in the elderly; brightly coloured plants like creeping daisies to help uplift their moods; and ixora and lantana plants attract butterflies and bees.

The garden also has raised planter beds of different heights, so that wheelchair users can interact with plants and flowers at a lower height. For seniors who find it difficult to bend down, they can use the planter beds which have been raised higher to do their gardening.

NParks has also developed customised therapeutic horticulture programmes to help increase social interaction among seniors and improve their well-being, such as propagating edible plants, making scent bags, leaf collages, as well as flower and leaf pressing on cards.

Speaking at the launch of the garden at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said that he knew of many seniors who would “love to get back to the soil and grow plants, vegetables and fruit trees”.

Currently, eight in 10 households in Singapore live within a 10-minute walk from a green space, and the Government hopes to raise this to nine in 10 by 2030.

“These green spaces are wonderful areas for recreation, relaxation and enjoying the peace of mind that only verdant and green spaces can provide … The journey to create a city in a garden for Singaporeans of all ages is one that we have to take together,” said Mr Lee, who is also the Second Minister for National Development.

Retiree Loy Boon Ngeow, 71, who spends more than five hours doing gardening daily at the herb and community gardens at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, said that he contributed some herbs, such as Indian borage and coleus plant, to the new therapeutic garden.

“I (love gardening) because it helps me pass the time, and you feel happy doing it,” he said.

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Malaysia: Empurau - The fish which could save our sharks

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 19 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Empurau fish is set to become the most sought-after item for those who take pride in serving lavish dishes at special occasions such as weddings and banquets.

Priced at RM2,000 per kilogramme, the freshwater fish — native to Borneo, particularly Sarawak — will be a tough contender for the old-school shark fin soup.

Currently, it is the most expensive fish in Malaysia.

Not many have the opportunity to taste empurau but for those who have an acquired taste for such a gastronomic delight, it will surely show off one’s status.

On Nov 11, skilled professional chefs from 16 hotels and restaurants will convene to create their signature dishes featuring the finest empurau fish at the Alternative To Shark Fin Soup Exhibition at Imago Mall, here.

Co-organised by the Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) and Go Seafood Sdn Bhd which owns the Royal Empurau brand, the exhibition is a move to shift the demand for shark fin to more sustainable patterns.

The event is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environmental Ministry.

Go Seafood chief executive officer Mikhail Razak Harris said the company came up with the idea to work with executive chefs from five-star hotels and restaurants to create a suitable soup which can serve as a better alternative to shark fin.

“We care about shared community values and sustainable development. We’d like to lead by example by taking an economic approach to conservation.

“We are offering the Royal Empurau brand and raising awareness of its culinary versatility in an effort to attain the overall goal of diverting demand for shark fins in a way that it is culturally appropriate and sustainable.

“We are actively engaging with people and organisations in pursuit of improving our understanding of what influences the choices that they make so we can effectively fight the demand for shark fin.

“We are coming up with something that will surprise a few people. However, we will only reveal that during the exhibition,” he said.

What makes empurau a special fish is its unique diet. The fish has a pallet for fruits and Sarawak’s ‘engkabang’ fruit or illipe nut gives it a rich taste.

Go Seafood executive director Chua Hua Beng, whose family has been farming empurau fish in Sarawak for 11 years, said farmed empurau taste better than wild ones as they are fed with illipe nuts all year long.

“In the wild, these fruits are seasonal but we collect these fruits from natives and in that way, we are helping the community. So, we go to long houses across Sarawak and ask the community to collect ‘engkabang’ fruits.

“We purchase the fruits from them to feed the empurau fish in a controlled environment,” he said, adding that the farm has been adopted by the Sarawak Agriculture Department.

According to a report, an engkabang tree bears fruit every four to five years. The Forest Research Institute of Malaysia describes the fruit as “butter from the rainforest” as it has a buttery texture when cooked in bamboo.

Chua claimed that even though the empurau can be found from Borneo up to Nepal, the ones from Sarawak are the best to be used in dishes.

He said the empurau fish population in the rivers are decreasing but the farming programme helps to repopulate by releasing them back into the wild.

Empurau, he said, should be an icon of Borneo just like the orang utan, proboscis monkey and hornbill bird among others.

“The only difference is that this (empurau) is the icon of Borneo that you can take home and eat because we farm it in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, SSPA chairman Aderick Chong said he hoped the exhibition would be successful in convincing shark fin soup lovers into shifting their consumption behaviour.

“Now that empurau is available, it will make the people think about having empurau as an alternative to the usual shark fin,” he said, adding that SSPA was continuously trying to encourage people to stop consuming shark fin soup.

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Malaysia, Johor: Flash floods forced over 400 out of their homes

Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 20 Sep 17;

JOHOR BARU: Over 400 people were forced to evacuate, when their homes were inundated in waist-deep waters in Kampung Tuah Jaya, Perling after a two-hour downpour that began about 5.30pm yesterday.

The village has about 160 houses that is located on low lying ground near Taman Perling and Sungai Danga. The flash flood receded about one-and-half hours later.

A Civil Defence Force spokesman said that as of 2am, 443 people from 51 families were relocated to temporary flood relief centres at the Hidayatul Muktadhin surau and Kampung Tuah Jaya balai raya.

Housewife Maizah Ahmad, 54, said the heavy downpour lasted for two hours before the water began to rise in her house.

"The heavy rain was beginning to stop, when it started to flood. I could only salvage some of the important items as the water rose quickly.

"It happened so fast. I was alone at home as my husband and my children were away at work.

"I experienced flash flood three years ago, but this time it was worse as the flood water reached my waist," said Maizah, who was staying the night at the balai raya with other residents.

Factory worker Saleha Sidek, 42, said she returned home from work at 11pm to discover her furniture and belongings scattered around the house.

"I saw some my belongings floating in the flood waters. By the time I reached home the flood was receding but all my belongings were either damaged or destroyed," said Saleha.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the heavy rain starting yesterday caused water to flow from nearby housing estates into Kampung Tuah Jaya, which is a low-lying area.

Pulai Member of Parliament service centre secretary Datuk Abd Rashid Kasman, who visited the victims, said that about 120 houses or about 80 per cent of the total homes in the village were affected by the flash flood.

Pengkalan Rinting assemblyman Cheo Yee Haw also posted a video of himself visiting and helping to scoop out water from a house that was inundated.

Meanwhile, netizens posted photos and videos of a flooded carpark at the Aeon Bukit Indah mall and at Jalan Danga Sutra, Taman Nusa Bestari at about 4.30pm yesterday.

However the flood in these two locations receded after about two hours.

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Indonesia: Floods submerge over one thousand homes in Sintang, West Kalimantan

Antara 19 Sep 17;

Sintang, W Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Floods have submerged over one thousand homes in Serawai Sub-district, Sintang District, West Kalimantan, on Tuesday.

The floodwaters reached a height of up to 1.7 meters, submerging homes and shops, Oktavianus Harsumpeda, the sub-district head of Serawai, noted here, Tuesday.

A total of 400 homes were flooded in Nanga Serawai Village, 320 houses in Batu Ketebung Village, and some 200 residences in Tanjung Raya Village.

Several elementary and high school buildings as well as shops were also affected by flooding that has halted school activities.(*)

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Indonesia: Six new sponge species and new symbiotic associations from the Indonesian coral triangle

PENSOFT PUBLISHERS EurekAlert 18 Sep 17;

Comprising more than 17,000 islands, the Indonesian archipelago is one of the world's most biodiverse places on Earth.

Sponges, aquatic organisms whose bodies consist of numerous pores to allow the ingress of water, are key components of this richness and play a fundamental role in the survival of coral reef habitats. Furthermore, they are also known for their medicinal benefits.

Unfortunately, due to the paucity of taxonomic expertise, the sponges from the Indonesian reefs are often ignored in monitoring surveys and conservation programmes, while their diversity is largely underestimated.

Researchers from the Italian Università Politecnica delle Marche and Università degli Studi di Genova, PharmaMar, Spain, and University of Sam Ratulangi, Indonesia, describe six new species in their paper in the open access journal, ZooKeys.

Inspired by their extraordinary biodiversity, the researchers teamed up with the pharmaceutical company PharmaMar to conduct several expeditions in the waters of North Sulawesi Island.

The authors reported a total of 94 demosponge species belonging to 33 families living in the North Sulawesi Island. Amongst them, there are six species new to science and two previously unknown symbiotic relationships.

Seven of the recorded species were collected for the very first time since their original description.

However, these findings are still scarce, given the abundance of the sponges in similar localities in the Indonesian archipelago.

In conclusion, the authors note that the marine diversity in Indonesia is still far from being well known.

"Thanks to this impressive diversity, these areas are important spots for diving tourism and require the urgent development of sustainable tourism practices," they say.


Original source:

Calcinai B, Bastari A, Bavestrello G, Bertolino M, Horcajadas SB, Pansini M, Makapedua DM, Cerrano C (2017) Demosponge diversity from North Sulawesi, with the description of six new species. ZooKeys 680: 105-150.

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Philippines: Coral reefs crisis

Editorial Business Mirror 18 Sep 17;

By next year the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) would be finished with their nationwide coral reef assessment, a joint project they call the National Coral Reef Status.

What they have gathered so far, though, does not seem promising.

Their studies seem to indicate only 20 percent of all coral reef systems in the country are alive, while 80 percent are dead coral because of illegal fishing and water pollution. According to local scientists, Tubbataha Reef remains the only largest coral reef system in the country that is alive.

A BusinessMirror story quoted equally dismal results of another study. Dr. Porfirio Alino of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute found that only 5 percent—equivalent to just around 1,000 square kilometers—of the country’s total reef area remain in good condition in the face of wanton destruction of our coral reefs by poachers.

Our coral reefs are endangered. This is old news. It’s easy to rant about how awful and terrible all this is but what are we going to do? This is the real question.

In a country that has one of the largest reef areas in the Southeast Asia region and which is supposedly the center of marine biodiversity in the world, the horrifying degradation of our coral reefs is downright unforgiveable; especially since, on paper, it seems we’ve got enough laws and regulations to protect our marine environment.

Local government units under the Local Government Code are authorized to protect the waters within their jurisdictions. We’ve got the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, as well as a National Marine Policy that complies with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Philippine Fisheries Code has established fish sanctuaries or marine-protected areas (MPAs) all over the country. We also have the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), which is responsible for the development, improvement, management and conservation of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources.

However, despite all these duly constituted government authorities, all these laws and regulations, enforcement has been found severely wanting, quite obviously. Why is that? Do we need to amend laws and introduce new ones that have more teeth? Do we lack the political will to implement these laws without interference or manipulation?

We urge Congress to provide government agencies mandated to protect our marine environment more funds so that they could do their jobs well and to strengthen laws protecting our country’s biodiversity.

We urge President Duterte to strongly take action before our life-supporting coral reefs are lost forever.

The country’s coastal and marine resources require investments of at least 1 percent of GDP to improve efforts to safeguard them and ensure their sustainable development.

Alino pointed out, for instance, that of the more than 600 MPAs that have been established in the country, only around 10 percent were actually being managed effectively. He said the capability of national government agencies to act decisively on marine problems appears to have diminished in recent years. He said there’s a need to provide more support “to enhance their capacity to provide technical assistance and improve their capability to fight crimes against our natural heritage”.

More funding would not only provide for better law enforcement and regulation but, just as important, would boost our resource managers’ capability to start rebuilding damaged coral reefs, which science says is doable.

Coral reefs are considered the “rainforests of the sea” and are integral to the livelihoods and well-being of our people. They not only provide protection from erosion and storm damage but could also generate income through ecotourism and fishing.

The government with the help of our people and the private sector could still reverse the destructive impacts of overfishing, water pollution, poaching and climate change.

Hopefully, it is not too late to prevent the extinction of our coral reefs.

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Biggest and smallest creatures at top risk of extinction: study

AFP Yahoo News 19 Sep 17;

Miami (AFP) - Animals on both the large and small side of the spectrum face the most risk of extinction -- but for very different reasons, each with vast consequences for the planet, researchers said Monday.

For big creatures -- including whale sharks, Atlantic sturgeon, Somali ostriches, Chinese giant salamanders and Komodo dragons -- people are the top threat to their survival, said the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

Large vertebrates -- or animals with a backbone -- are often fished, hunted, trapped, poached or killed as unintentional bycatch.

"Many of the larger species are being killed and consumed by humans," said lead author William Ripple, a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University.

"About 90 percent of all threatened species larger than 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) in size are being threatened by harvesting," he said.

Meanwhile, threats to the smallest animals -- those weighing less than about three ounces (77 grams) -- are also quite high, mainly due to loss of habitat.

Some of the most vulnerable little ones include the Clarke's banana frog, sapphire-bellied hummingbird, gray gecko, hog-nosed bat and the waterfall climbing cave fish, said the report.

"Small species that require freshwater habitats are especially imperiled."

Losing the largest and smallest species can affect entire ecosystems.

Unless things change, human-driven activities will eliminate big and small creatures in such a way that "fundamentally reorder(s) the structure of life on our planet," said the report.

Knowing which creatures are at risk can help focus conservation efforts, researchers said.

The study was based on an examination of more than 27,000 vertebrate animal species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

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Rhino horn smugglers shift to jewellery: report

AFP Yahoo News 18 Sep 17;

Johannesburg (AFP) - Rhino horn smugglers in South Africa are increasingly supplying the jewellery trade, marking a shift away from sales to traditional medicine makers, according to a new report published Monday.

Conservation group TRAFFIC said Chinese gangs were processing horns into beads, bracelets and bangles to supply Asia's booming luxury goods market while also helping traffickers evade detection at airports.

Julian Rademeyer, a project director at TRAFFIC, said that the market for horn from the endangered species had been transformed in recent years.

"These products are exported and sold as they are, not necessarily to be ground down" as before, he told AFP.
"The rhino market has evolved over the years. The syndicates no longer want to export whole horn."

Rhino horn is mostly keratin, the same material as human nails, and is believed to cure cancer and other conditions -- as well being marketed as an aphrodisiac in Vietnam and China.

"Prior to that, a lot of the demand was for medicinal purposes, and in Vietnam demand for whole horn as a status symbol," said Rademeyer.

The report, titled "Pendants, Power and Pathways", revealed that smugglers are disguising rhino horn products as toys, artefacts and even hidden in bags of cashew nuts to avoid security detection.

They also wrap them in aluminium foil and smear them with toothpaste and shampoo to hide the tell-tale smell of decay.

The report revealed that countries including Ethiopia and Kenya played a "pivotal role as transit countries in Africa as they have direct links to Asian countries".

South Africa's OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg was also identified as a "key hub" for shipments destined for Asian countries.

South Africa, which is home to about 80 percent of the world rhino population, has been hit hardest by poachers. More than 7,100 animals have been killed over the past decade.

Rhino horns are highly coveted in Asia, where they have fetched up to $60,000 (50,000 euros) per kilogram.

Last month, South Africa hosted its first online auction of rhino horn, following the lifting of the ban on domestic trade. The auction attracted fewer bidders than anticipated.

Activists had opposed the controversial sale, fearing it would fuel trafficking and undermine a 40-year global ban on the trade of rhino horn.

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Guess What's Showing Up In Our Shellfish? One Word: Plastics


But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she'll probably point out a bivalve's gonads or remark on its fertility.

"These are comments I make at dinner parties," she said. "I've spent too much time doing dissections. I've done too many spawnings."

And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish.

In 2016, she and her students at Vancouver Island University planted thousands of clams and oysters across coastal British Columbia and let them soak in the sand and saltwater of the Strait of Georgia. Three months later, they dissolved hundreds of them with chemicals, filtered out the biodegradable matter and looked at the remaining material under a microscope. Inside this Pacific Northwest culinary staple, they found a rainbow of little plastic particles.

"So when you eat clams and oysters, you're eating plastics as well," Dudas says.

Funded by the Canadian government and British Columbia's shellfish trade association, the project aimed to learn whether the shellfish aquaculture industry may be contaminating its own crop by using plastic infrastructure like nets, buoys and ropes. The experiment was a response to those claims by local environmental groups.

But tracking the origins of tiny plastic particles in a big ocean is new territory. So Dudas turned to Peter Ross, who has studied the effects of ocean pollution on sea life for 30 years.

"We've long known that plastic and debris can be a problem for ocean life," says Ross, director of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Pollution Research Program.

In 2013, he began sampling the coast of British Columbia for microplastics. The researchers found up to 9,200 particles of microplastic per cubic meter of seawater — about the equivalent of emptying a salt shaker into a large moving box.

"So, large numbers," Ross says. "Rather shocking numbers."

They found plastics that were made small, like the polystyrene beads sold as bean bag filler and fake snow, and nurdles, the hard resin pellets used as a raw material for other plastic products. Microbeads, common in toothpaste and face wash, were also present.

But the majority of microplastics in Ross' samples resembled those showing up in Dudas' shellfish. They're showing up by the thousands along Puget Sound's shorelines, too. They're microfibers.

"It's overwhelmingly fibers," Ross says. "And they're being readily consumed at the bottom of the food chain, in zooplankton."

The research is adding to the evidence of a problem that touches every corner of the planet: from the depths of the ocean abyss to the surface waters of the Arctic to an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Scientists think plastic pollution in the ocean could outweigh the fish there by 2050.

Ross believes that locating the source of microfibers will help slow that trend. So lately, his science lab is looking more like a crime lab.

The detective work begins under a microscope. Researchers study a petri dish that looks like an I Spy book — a white background strewn with small colorful items. They note each particle's size, shape and color and zoom in to study its appearance: the way a fiber drapes across the dish or frays at its tip.

If particles pass the eye test, they advance to a machine called the Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy.

"This is a fancy forensic machine used at police stations," Ross says.

The machine scans individual particles with infrared light and generates a line graph on a nearby computer. Then the program cross-references that graph with a global database of other squiggly lines. One piece of fabric pulls up a list of probable matches — fibers with names like Zeftron 500 and Wonder Thread. They're types of nylon. Other fibers bring up generic and commercial names for olefin and polyester.

The data can't pinpoint a fiber's exact source, but taken in aggregate can point to larger trends about the presence of microplastic pollution in the ocean.

In many cases, the research is underlining the fact that many of the fibers ending up in the ocean are starting their journey much closer to home — probably in your home laundry machine.

Outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia found that the average synthetic jacket releases 1.7 grams of microfibers per load of laundry. Each load may generate hundreds of thousands of fibers, which can slip through filters on washing machines and wastewater treatment plants and eventually make their way into ocean waters.

"The fabrics are degrading over time and getting flushed out into the water system," says Jeff Crook, chief product officer at Mountain Equipment Co-op, one of Canada's biggest outdoor retailers. The Vancouver-based co-op paid $50,000 to support Ross' effort.

Improved filters may be one way to stop ocean-bound microfibers, Crook says, but he's looking to Ross' data for other information, like whether some types of fibers are ending up in the ocean more than others. The data could help start a conversation about creating industry-wide standards around fiber shedding, he says.

"The more information we have, the more we can go back and tinker and improve the materials," Crook says.

Others note that the world consumes hundreds of millions of tons of plastic annually — like food packaging and straws. Dudas said that, while she is finding that farmed shellfish don't contain any more plastic than nonfarmed shellfish, she has no doubt that nets and ropes from shellfish aquaculture sites also shed fibers into the ocean.

"My fear is that we have a latent reservoir of these products that could become our future supply of microplastics," Ross says. "And they'll in turn be ingested by zooplankton and move up into the food chain."

Should we be concerned that we're part of that food chain?

That research is ongoing, Dudas says, but the answer likely will depend on how much we consume. The clams and oysters in Dudas' study contained an average of eight microplastic particles each, preliminary results show.

There are some indications that those plastics can act as vectors for chemical pollutants and pathogens, and other researchers are studying whether plastics leave the human body after being eaten.

When in doubt, ask a shellfish biologist.

"I wouldn't be overly concerned about eating shellfish specifically," Dudas said. "Microplastics are everywhere."

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Paris climate aim 'still achievable'

Paul Rincon BBC News 19 Sep 17;

The 2015 Paris agreement's ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C remains within reach, a study suggests.

The study is one of several to address the "carbon budget", which - among other things - determines how much CO2 the planet can emit and still reach a given limit for global warming.

It indicates the 2015 target, perceived by some as tough, could be met with very stringent emissions cuts.
It used computer models that project climate behaviour into the future.

The aim of the Paris deal was "holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5C."

But scientists admit they were taken by surprise by the ambition of the 1.5C figure.

The results of the work with computer models have been published in Nature Geoscience. This type of work necessarily contains uncertainties regarding the way the Earth's climate will respond in future and how quickly societies can move away from fossil fuel use.

But the study authors say: "Pursuing 'efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C' is not chasing a geophysical impossibility".

Co-author Michael Grubb, from University College London, said: "This paper shows that the Paris goals are within reach, but clarifies what the commitment to 'pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C' really implies."

Those commitments would require strengthening the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) - the pledges to cut emissions contained in the Paris agreement.

Previous estimates of the remaining 1.5C carbon budget, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fifth Assessment of the climate, were around four times lower.

But unlike those figures, which relied on one line of evidence, the new study uses multiple approaches to examine the same question, arriving at a rather different result.

Co-author Prof Pierre Friedlingstein, from the University of Exeter, said: "This is very good news for the achievability of the Paris targets."

Prof Myles Allen, another author, from the University of Oxford, told BBC News: "In the main body of the IPCC assessment, what it would take to meet a 1.5C goal wasn't assessed in any detail. To be honest, it wasn't thought to be the policy priority at the time.

"Perhaps it should have been, but that was the view of the academic community then. But the ambition of Paris caught a lot of people by surprise."

Analysis by David Shukman, BBC Science Editor:

The climate models are exaggerating. The predictions are too alarmist. The Tuvaluans and other islanders are safer than we thought. These are among the conclusions that some might reach from this latest work. In reality, nothing is quite that straightforward. The models are simulated approximations of possible futures. Inevitably they are going to be at least slightly adrift of reality, either in the amount of warming or its timing.

They come with caveats and margins of error. In many ways, it's remarkable that these computer constructs are even roughly on track. And models designed to come up with very broad potential outcomes for the end of the century may not be fine-tuned enough to give more detailed forecasts year-by-year.

The authors themselves are anxious that their research is not misunderstood. The need for urgent action to reduce emissions is unchanged, they say. It's just that the most ambitious of the Paris Agreement targets is not as unachievable as many once thought, that there is time to act, though the task remains a monumental one.

Myles Allen added: "For a two in three chance of keeping temperatures within 1.5C, we'd have to reduce emissions in a straight line to zero from where we are now over the next 40 years.

"It's possible, but extremely challenging. So if people are saying: can we now relax? That's not the right message to take at all."

Different take

Scientists agree urgent action will be needed to tackle the effects of rapid temperature increase over the next century.

But a study earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change suggested the allowable carbon budget had probably been overestimated.

It said the "pre-industrial baseline" used to benchmark present day warming was probably older than the IPCC had assumed.

Therefore, the degree of warming since that baseline was probably greater than had been believed.

On Twitter, one of the authors of that report, Prof Michael Mann, said the latest research in Nature Geoscience, "doesn't account for [the] pre-industrial baseline issue we examined".

He added: "There is some debate about [the] precise amount of committed warming if we cease emitting carbon immediately. We're probably very close to 1.5C."

Meanwhile, another paper in Nature Geoscience, by Gunnar Myhre, from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, in Oslo, and colleagues, suggests the greenhouse effect caused by human-induced CO2 emissions is now half-way to doubling compared with pre-industrial conditions.

Although the concentrations themselves have not yet reached the halfway mark, this is being described as an iconic watermark.

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