Raw fish salad causes outbreak of group B Streptococcus in Singapore

Healio 15 Nov 17;

A new report details the investigation into a large outbreak of group B Streptococcus in Singapore that was caused by a type of raw fish salad.

The 2015 outbreak sickened 238 people and was associated with consuming yusheng, a dish typically made from two freshwater fish species, Asian bighead carp and snakehead, Lee C. Ng, PhD, director of the Singapore National Environment Agency’s Environmental Health Institute, and colleagues wrote in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The discovery of group B Streptococcus (GBS) as the cause of the outbreak led Singapore to ban the use of raw freshwater fish in ready-to-eat meals and to institute stricter rules governing the sale of ready-to-eat raw saltwater fish. The ban took effect in December 2015, several months before Chinese New Year, when yusheng is customarily eaten, authorities said.

According to Ng and colleagues, GBS is found in around 30% of healthy adults. The bacterium is a common cause of neonatal sepsis, and researchers recently estimated that it may cause almost 150,000 stillbirths and infant deaths globally each year. Ng and colleagues said the incidence of invasive GBS in adults has been increasing but that foodborne transmission had not previously been reported as a cause.

During and after the outbreak, Ng and colleagues tested fish (n = 997) and samples of fish tank water (n = 102) used for holding live freshwater fish for the presence of several pathogens. They found one clade of the GBS strain ST283 that was nearly identical to clinical strains from outbreak. They traced the strain to Malaysia but said it is probably prevalent throughout the region.

According to their report, GBS ST283 was detected all along the food chain, from ports where fish are imported, to fish markets where they are sold and food stalls that might typically serve yusheng. Ng and colleagues said people who ate yusheng were more likely to acquire GBS ST283 than those who did not.

Ng and colleagues isolated other pathogens from both freshwater and saltwater fish samples during their investigation, including Aeromonas spp., Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. They said their findings “indicate the risk for contamination of raw freshwater fish and underscore the need for proper sourcing and handling of all fish for raw consumption.”

“Our study complements the epidemiologic findings for this outbreak and illustrates the need for public health authorities and industries to remain vigilant regarding emerging pathogens.” - by Gerard Gallagher

Read more!

Singapore homeowners, developers willing to pay more for green buildings: BCA survey
Ann Williams Straits Times 15 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - Local homeowners and developers are willing to pay more for green buildings in recognition of their benefits, according to a survey released by the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday (Nov 15).

More than 70 per cent of homeowners acknowledged that green buildings have a better resale value and about half of them were willing to pay 3 to 4 per cent more for a green building that is certified by the BCA Green Mark.

As for developers, 72 per cent said they would prefer to invest in or purchase a green building over a non-green one, and were willing to fork out up to 5 per cent more.

Over 90 per cent of those polled said that green buildings result in lower utility bills, reduced environmental impact and better health benefits. The survey reached 2,200 homeowners, office tenants, property agents, facility managers and developers.

The results of the survey reinforce the business case for green buildings in Singapore, said BCA.

Its CEO Hugh Lim said: "Meeting the strong demand for green buildings domestically has enabled many Singapore built environment firms to develop specialised capabilities in green building design for the tropics. The greater interest in sustainable buildings abroad has also presented new business opportunities to our firms, especially in developments which have adopted BCA's well-regarded Green Mark assessment.

The Government is providing support for these firms which are keen to internationalise as part of the construction industry transformation map.

In its latest measure, BCA will partnering the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in the US to collaborate in the area of zero energy buildings and look into areas such as passive and active building technologies and smart energy management development.

This will be the Singapore authority's second tie-up with LBNL, after the set-up in California of the BCA SkyLab, the world's first high-rise rotatable laboratory for the tropics.

BCA also said that Singapore firms are riding on the strong demand for green buildings locally and overseas to export their expertise to the region. It noted that to date, close to 300 projects in 80 cities overseas have BCA's Green Mark certification It said small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) are also expanding their services overseas, fuelled by the increasing interest and demand for green buildings.

It cited G-Energy Global Pte Ltd, an energy services company with more than 500 projects in Singapore and overseas. Some of G-Energy's iconic projects are Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore, Saigon Sports City in Vietnam and World Trade Centre 2 in Indonesia.

Singapore homeowners, developers willing to pay more for green buildings
Business Times 15 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE homeowners and developers are willing to pay more for green buildings in recognition of their benefits, according to a survey released by the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday.

More than 70 per cent of homeowners acknowledged that green buildings have a better resale value and about half of them were willing to pay 3 to 4 per cent more for a green building that is certified by the BCA Green Mark.

As for developers, 72 per cent said they would prefer to invest in or purchase a green building over a non-green one, and were willing to fork out up to 5 per cent more.

Over 90 per cent of those polled said that green buildings result in lower utility bills, reduced environmental impact and better health benefits. The survey reached 2,200 homeowners, office tenants, property agents, facility managers and developers.

The results of the survey reinforce the business case for green buildings in Singapore, said BCA.

Read more!

New Soil seeks to break new ground in land reclamation

Firm fits the entire treatment process for marine clay within a portable machine
Marissa Lee Straits Times 15 Nov 17;

Newater has become a household name for treated dirty water but less well-known is the story of "new earth" - a name first used by former national development minister Khaw Boon Wan in a blog five years ago.

New earth is basically recycled soft clay and other common construction waste that gets dug up on construction sites. When properly treated, the clay takes on the properties of a new material that can be used for land reclamation.

Mr Khaw wrote: "In most countries, excavated material is dumped on land - this takes up precious space and is also unsightly. In Singapore, we have a better way to manage such material."

Inspired by these words, local construction firm Boldtek Holdings began a journey 21/2 years ago to produce its own brand of new earth, which it calls New Soil.

Boldtek, which was listed on the Catalist board in 2013, formed the New Soil Technologies joint venture with a building materials supplier. Boldtek owns 60 per cent of the entity. One of the features that set New Soil Technologies apart is that it has been able to fit the entire marine clay treatment process into a portable 10m-by-20m machine, making it mobile.

New Soil can lease its machines out to different work sites and help contractors save on trucking costs.

Only two general workers and one general excavator are required to operate the machine, which can produce 20 to 200 tonnes of New Soil an hour.

The treatment time can range from hours to days, depending on the raw material's water content and the strength required, said Mr Phua Lam Soon, chief executive of Boldtek and founder and managing director of New Soil Technologies.

Tests run by technical consultant Lu Jin Ping found that New Soil is as permeable as sand, which is the most widely used reclamation fill material.

The difference is that the company can afford to price New Soil at a 20 to 30 per cent discount to the price of sand, Mr Phua said.

The company began marketing New Soil to contractors and mining firms a few months back by taking the clay from excavation sites and producing treated New Soil samples that have been sent to potential customers for testing.

Mr Phua told The Straits Times last month: "It's a new product. We've done a lot of testing and, very soon, someone will accept it."

Marine clay can be found all over Singapore where MRT tunnels or basement carparks are being dug, since nowhere here is far from the sea.

Raw marine clay cannot be used as a foundation as it is sticky and almost impermeable, and so more prone to flooding.

New Soil's technique reduces the water content of clay via a chemical reaction with certain additives. The formula for the additives is a trade secret.

New Soil Technologies has invested $69,000 in developing New Soil. It has also received a $392,000 grant from the Building and Construction Authority and other government agencies.

Formerly known as Logistics Holdings, Boldtek changed its name in August as it is primarily in construction, not the logistics business.

It made a net loss of $1.3 million in the 12 months to June 30 as the industry remains stuck in contraction mode.

Read more!

Hundred-year-old tembusu tree in St George's Church to be felled over ill health

Audrey Tan Straits Times 16 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - A tembusu heritage tree which has been deemed unhealthy and a possible safety risk will be felled on Thursday afternoon (Nov 16).

The 30m-tall tree of more than a hundred years old is located within the premises of St George's Church in Minden Road. It was found by an arborist to have hollows in its trunks. Its bark was also charred in certain areas.

The church plans to use the wood from the tree to make a memorial bench.

The tree had apparently been struck by lightning several times over the years, a church representative told The Straits Times on Thursday.

Preparatory work was ongoing when The Straits Times visited the church at about 9am. There were "Tree Felling" signs warning people to keep clear, as well as diagrams showing drop zones where branches could fall. The roofs of the church nearest to the tree were also covered with tarpaulin.

The church had decided to get the tree inspected after a tembusu tree fell in the Singapore Botanic Gardens in February, killing a woman.

An arborist from ArborCulture was hired around July, and investigations later found that the tree was unhealthy and may pose a risk of falling.

The unhealthy tembusu tree at St George’s Church on Nov 16, 2017. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
"The decision to cut down the tree was made to safeguard the safety of parishioners, and the building itself," said the church representative.

The church had been gazetted a national monument in 1978 for its historical and architectural significance. It was designed by British architect William Henry Stanbury, and built in 1910 to cater to British soldiers living in the Tanglin barracks.

As the tree is a heritage tree, the National Parks Board (NParks) was informed that it would be felled, and its arborists did their own checks. The Straits Times has reached out to NParks for comment.

There are 265 trees under NParks' heritage tree scheme, which aims to conserve Singapore's mature trees. To be considered a heritage tree, the tree must have a girth of more than 5m, and/or have botanical, social, historical, cultural and/or aesthetical value.

Read more!

Man fined for operating illegal pet shop in Jurong West flat

Channel NewAsia 15 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: A 47-year-old man was fined S$2,750 on Wednesday (Nov 15) for operating a pet shop without a license, said the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA).

Acting on a tip-off in September, AVA said it was told of birds living in poor conditions being sold illegally in a Jurong West flat.

An investigation on Tan Lai Hock's apartment revealed that he had 27 caged parrots, which had been bred and sold without a pet shop license, said AVA in the press release.

However, no compromise in animal welfare was detected.

A pet shop license is required to display any animal, including birds, for sale, said AVA. Anyone found guilty of operating an unlicensed pet shop can be fined up to S$5,000.

Pet grooming shop owner faces charges for selling, housing dogs

VALERIE KOH Today Online 15 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — A 43-year-old man was hauled to court on Wednesday (Nov 15) for running a pet shop without a licence and for housing unlicensed dogs.

Desmond Phua Ju Liang, owner of My Pet Store, faces 10 charges.

He allegedly kept eight dogs — all above three months old — at the shop, which is located along Sungei Tengah Road, when he did not have a licence to do so. These dogs included a female Labradoodle, a female and a male Dachshund, and a female and a male Maltese.

It is illegal for anyone to keep a dog above three months old without a licence.

My Pet Store brands itself as an animal grooming outfit, offering day care and pet taxi services. However, Phua sold seven dogs to various customers at the shop around the end of May this year, even though the place was not licensed as a pet shop.

He also kept 12 dogs illegally at the shop. Under the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing & Control) Rules, he is required to seek permission from the Director-General of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Services to house more than three dogs on premises that are not categorised as dog farms.

Phua returns to court on Dec 8 for a pre-trial conference. If found guilty of each of these offences, he could be fined up to S$5,000.

In a separate case on Wednesday, a 47-year-old man was fined S$2,750 for operating a pet shop without a licence. In a press statement, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore said that it had received feedback on the poor living conditions and illegal sale of birds in a Jurong West flat owned by Tan Lai Hock.

Upon checking, the authority found 27 caged parrots in Tan’s apartment.

“Although no compromise in animal welfare was detected, we found that Tan had been breeding and selling parrots without a pet shop licence,” its spokesperson said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Over RM10 million in aid approved for farmers, fishermen affected by Kedah floods

MOHAMED BASYIR New Straits Times 15 Nov 17;

KEPALA BATAS: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry has approved more than RM10 million in aid for farmers, breeders and fishermen in the state affected by the major floods of Nov 4.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Shabery Cheek said that the floods impacted almost 5,700 farmers and that the aid will compensate them for their losses.

He added that the ministry has initiated a standard operating procedure (SOP) for 'Bencana Sektor Agromakanan' which will evaluate losses incurred from natural disasters and ensure that food supplies are unaffected.

"Some 460 vegetable and fruit farmers suffered losses involving an area of 600 hectares.

"(In) the rice sector, over 10,900 hectares of rice fields were affected, involving 4,800 farmers," he told newsmen here on Wednesday.

Shabery said that the ministry has allocated RM9.7 million for paddy replantation; while for the fisheries sector, the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) has allocated RM500,000 for 110 fishermen whose houses and items used for fishing activities were destroyed.

"LKIM will conduct an evaluation of the damages and provide assistance and aid to the fishermen using the Fishermen's Welfare and Natural Disaster Fund,” he said, adding that 3,500 cages and ponds operated by 160 aquaculture entrepreneurs were destroyed in the deluge.

Shabery said that the Fisheries Department will also conduct an evaluation on losses incurred before the RM500,000 in aid is disbursed early next year.

“About 90 breeders who were affected by the floods will also be given aid and food supplies for livestock, costing over RM50,000,” he added.

Monsoon Season Aid helps smallholders, rubber tappers endure 3-month wet spell
New Straits Times 15 Nov 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Monsoon Season Aid has helped many smallholders and rubber tappers to pull through difficult times, the Dewan Rakyat was told on Wednesday.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur said 264,352 smallholders and rubber tappers have started to receive the much-needed relief in the form of a RM200 monthly aid which will be handed out in November, December and January.

The three-month period is related to the northeast monsoon season, known in Malay as musim tengkujuh.
The period will bring heavy rain and can lead to flash floods in many areas, severely affecting the income of rubber smallholders and tappers.

"A total of 499,802 smallholders and rubber tappers have registered for the assistance, including 235,450 applications which are still being processed.

The aid application can be made online via http://bmt.lgm.gov.my.

"The registration is carried out via online applications and through the village head or chairman of the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK)," he said in reply to Budiman Mohd Zohdi (BN-Sungai Besar), who inquired on the number of eligible smallholders and rubber tappers who are to receive the Rainy Season Assistance.

Datu Nasrun added that the government has no immediate plans to provide or introduce other forms of assistance to smallholders and rubber tappers during the monsoon season.

The Monsoon Season Aid, a first-of-its-kind measure, was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the 2017 Budget speech with a total allocation of RM261 million from the federal government.

The aid application can be made online via http://bmt.lgm.gov.my.

Rubber smallholders and tappers can also visit the nearest Malaysian Rubber Board office to obtain the forms for manual application method.


Read more!

Malaysia: ‘RM45.78 million for 97 flood mitigation projects this year’

The Borneo Post 15 Nov 17;

AN allocation of RM45.78 million, under the Cabinet Committee Rural Transformation Initiatives, has been approved for 97 flood mitigation projects in the state for this year.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said these projects will be implemented by local authorities, Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) and the Public Works Department (JKR).

“Sixty-three of these projects will be completed by the end of this year whilst the remaining 34 projects will be implemented in 2018,” he said when winding up his ministerial speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.

He pointed out that the federal government has also allocated RM47.84 million for flood mitigation and RM45.29 million for the River Management Programme.

“The allocations are for the implementation of flood mitigation projects, river bank protection, ‘Pasca Banjir’ projects and river clearing and maintenance works throughout the state.”

He said the flood mitigation project for Bintulu at Jalan Tun Razak with physical progress of 13 per cent was on schedule for completion by Dec 2018 while the flood mitigation for Sibu phase 3 at RM100 million and Kuching at RM150 million are expected to commence by early next year and the second half of 2018 respectively.

Dr Sim said the government would also continue to give priority to the Stormwater Management Master Plan study for urban centres in Sarawak with approved fund amounting to RM11 million under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

“Stormwater Management Master Plan for Sarikei and Bintangor is in progress and scheduled to be completed by February 2018,” he said, adding that studies for Sri Aman, Betong, Debak, Spaoh, Saratok, Limbang, Lawas and Serian were also being planned in the next two years.

For the coastal erosion protection and river mouth rehabilitation programme, he said the federal government had approved a total of RM84 million under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

“There are ten projects under this programme with projects at Kampung Santubong, Kampung Tanah Hitam and Kampung Siru Melayu successfully completed while the one at Kampung Serpan, Asajaya is currently under construction.

He added that the remaining six projects at SK Bedengan, Sematan, Buntal, Sebuyau, Batu 1 Kuala Baram and Oya Hilir are in various stages of design and procurement.

“In addition, RM29.96 million has been approved for river mouth dredging works to mitigate flood and facilitate river navigation. The four projects are the river mouths of Sg Sematan, Sg Buntal, Sg Bako and Sg Limbang.”

Meanwhile, Dr Sim said the state government had also approved an allocation of RM53.97 million this year for 23 local authorities to implement 562 infrastructure projects for upgrading of street lightings, traffic lights, footpaths, public toilets, libraries, jetties and recreational parks.

Read more!

Malaysia: Zero-tolerance for human and wildlife trafficking, says Malaysia Aviation Group

AZURA ABAS New Straits Times 15 Nov 17;

SEPANG: Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) today declared zero-tolerance for human and wildlife trafficking.
Malaysia Airlines Bhd's executive counsel Nik Azli Abu Zahar said for the past two years, it had taken an active stance against such trafficking activities.

"We signed the Buckingham Declaration in June this year which united the world's leading organisations and wildlife charities under a common purpose- one that has created a global movement for change against wildlife trafficking," he said.

Nik Azli said this at the launch of MAG's anti-human and anti-wildlife trafficking roadshow by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Masir Kujat at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Also present were United States Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdir and Malaysia Airports Bhd managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali.

Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest organised crime activity after trafficking of humans, drugs and counterfeiting.

It is an industry that generates more than US$20 billion (RM84.6 billion) in profits annually.

The illegal activity reduces biodiversity, destroys fragile ecosystems, threatens wildlife with extinction, fuels corruption and undermines governance.

Nik Azli said MAG developed its policy against human trafficking in August last year.

"It has since issued a circular to all its business partners to stress on the seriousness of this crime and the close cooperation needed in stemming these illegal activities.

"Training is underway to help staff identified potential human traffickers and their victims," he added.

Specific progress made on wildlife trafficking includes talks and trainings internally with more than 4,000 of its frontliners; wildlife trafficking videos on its In-Flight Entertainment Systems as well as anti-wildlife trafficking statement on all of its passenger check-in countertops to serve as a reminder and create awareness among the passengers.

Badlisham said MAHB would get everyone in the airports to look out for traffickers and their victims.
"We can get even the cleaners to be our eyes and ears on this by being more sensitive about their surroundings especially to those who act suspiciously in the airport," he added.

Earlier, Masir said the government was aware that the country's airports were being used as hubs and transit points for the trafficking in persons and wildlife animals.

"Statistics shows that the aviation industry is thriving really well in Malaysia and with it comes various opportunities for people to earn a living.

"Unfortunately, there are some irresponsible people and syndicates that take advantage of this situation," he said.

Masir said Malaysia had implemented various measures to combat the heinous crimes including through legislative instrument.

He added consistent efforts and commitments of the home ministry's Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants members in improving the number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of trafficking in persons' cases as well as improving several aspects of victim's protection.

Read more!

Plastics found in stomachs of deepest sea creatures

‘Very worrying finding’ from nearly 11km deep confirms fears that synthetic fibres have contaminated the most remote places on Earth
Matthew Taylor The Guardian 15 Nov 17;

Animals from the deepest places on Earth have been found with plastic in their stomachs, confirming fears that manmade fibres have contaminated the most remote places on the planet.

The study, led by academics at Newcastle University, found animals from trenches across the Pacific Ocean were contaminated with fibres that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes.

Dr Alan Jamieson, who led the study, said the findings were startling and proved that nowhere on the planet was free from plastics pollution.

“There is now no doubt that plastics pollution is so pervasive that nowhere – no matter how remote – is immune,” he said.

Evidence of the scale of plastic pollution has been growing in recent months. Earlier this year scientists found plastic in 83% of global tapwater samples, while other studies have found plastic in rock salt and fish.

Humans have produced an estimated 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s and scientists said it risked near permanent contamination of the planet.

Jamieson said underlined the need for swift and meaningful action.

“These observations are the deepest possible record of microplastic occurrence and ingestion, indicating it is highly likely there are no marine ecosystems left that are not impacted by anthropogenic debris.”

He said it was “a very worrying find.”

“Isolating plastic fibres from inside animals from nearly 11 kilometres deep (seven miles) just shows the extent of the problem. Also, the number of areas we found this in, and the thousands of kilometre distances involved shows it is not just an isolated case, this is global.”

The study tested samples of crustaceans found in the ultra-deep trenches that span the entire Pacific Ocean – the Mariana, Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches.

These range from seven to more than 10 kilometres deep, including the deepest point in the ocean, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

The team examined 90 individual animals and found ingestion of plastic ranged from 50% in the New Hebrides Trench to 100% at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The fragments identified include semi-synthetic cellulosic fibres, such as Rayon, Lyocell and Ramie, which are all microfibres used in products such as textiles, to plastic fibres that are likely to come from plastic bottles, fishing equipment or everyday packaging.

Jamieson said deep-sea organisms are dependent on food “raining down from the surface which in turn brings any adverse components, such as plastic and pollutants with it.”

“The deep sea is not only the ultimate sink for any material that descends from the surface, but it is also inhabited by organisms well adapted to a low food environment and these will often eat just about anything.”

An estimated 300m tonnes of plastic now litters the oceans, with more than 5 trillion plastic pieces – weighing more than 250,000 tonnes – currently floating on the surface. Around 8m tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year.

Jamieson said: “Litter discarded into the oceans will ultimately end up washed back ashore or sinking to the deep-sea, there are no other options.

“Once these plastics reach the deep-seafloor there is simply nowhere else for them to go, therefore it is assumed they will simply accumulate in greater quantities.”

Read more!

Nasa forecast: Which cities will flood as ice melts?

Victoria Gill BBC News 16 Nov 17;

A forecasting tool reveals which cities will be affected as different portions of the ice sheet melt, say scientists.

It looks at the Earth's spin and gravitational effects to predict how water will be "redistributed" globally.

"This provides, for each city, a picture of which glaciers, ice sheets, [and] ice caps are of specific importance," say the researchers.

The tool has been developed by scientists at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

Senior scientist Dr Erik Ivins said: "As cities and countries attempt to build plans to mitigate flooding, they have to be thinking about 100 years in the future and they want to assess risk in the same way that insurance companies do."

And this new tool provided a way for them to work out which ice sheets they should be "most worried about".

It suggests that in London sea-level rise could be significantly affected by changes in the north-western part of the Greenland ice sheet.

Graphic showing the portion of the Greenland Ice Sheet that will affect sea levels near London
While for New York, the area of concern is the ice sheet's entire northern and eastern portions.

For New York, the area of concern is the ice sheet's entire northern and eastern portions
Another of the scientists, Dr Eric Larour, said three key processes influenced "the sea-level fingerprint", the pattern of sea-level change around the world.

The first is gravity.

"These [ice sheets] are huge masses that exert an attraction on the ocean," said Dr Larour.

"When the ice shrinks, that attraction diminishes- and the sea will move away from that mass."

As well as this "push-pull influence" of ice, the ground under a melting ice sheet expands vertically, having previously been compressed by the sheer weight of ice.

Wobbling planet

The last factor involves the rotation of the planet itself.

"You can think of the Earth as a spinning top," said Dr Larour.

"As it spins it wobbles and as masses on its surface change, that wobble also changes.

"That, in turn, redistributes water around the Earth."

By computing each of these factors into their calculations, the researchers were able to build their city-specific forecasting tool.

"We can compute the exact sensitivity - for a specific town - of a sea level to every ice mass in the world," Dr Larour told BBC News.

"This gives you an idea, for your own city, of which glaciers, ice sheets and ice caps are of specific importance."

Another of the team, Dr Surendra Adhikar, said: "People can be desperate to understand how these huge, complicated global processes impact on them.

"With this tool, they can see the impact on their own city."

Read more!

Europe steps in to cover US shortfall in funding climate science

Matt McGrath BBC 15 Nov 17;

French president Emmanuel Macron says that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the global climate body, the IPCC.

The scientific organisation has faced uncertainty since President Donald Trump outlined plans earlier this year to cut US funding.

The UK government also pledged to double their IPCC contribution.

Speaking at UN talks in Bonn, Mr Macron said that climate change was the most significant struggle of our times.

Today saw the start of the high level segment at this meeting of global climate negotiators known as COP23.

In his statement to negotiators, the French president outlined the need for increased commitments to cut carbon.

Mr Macron said these decisions must be based on clear scientific information.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long been seen as a key element of that system of advice to governments.

Meeting the challenge

Their assessment reports, which come out every six or seven years, are critical in informing the public and governments about the causes and impacts of climate change.

Earlier this year, President Trump proposed ending US funding for this body. Mr Macron said that Europe would now fill the gap.

"I propose that Europe replace America, and France will meet that challenge," he told delegates here in Bonn.

"I would like to see the largest number of EU countries at our side, all together we can compensate for the loss of US funding but I can guarantee from the start of 2018, the IPCC will have all the money that it needs and it will continue to support our decision-making. They will not miss a single euro."

The UK also announced that it would help the IPCC financially, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing a doubling of funding for the organisation.

Mr Macron was keen to reinforce the leadership of France and the European Union on climate change. He announced that France would close all its coal plants by 2021, putting him at odds with German chancellor Angela Merkel who struggled with this issue as she tried to form a coalition government.

On renewable energy, Mr Macron outlined plans for projects that would build inter-connections between green energy producers and consumer across the continent.

"We will encourage and actively participate in funding all the projects we need bilaterally, with Germany and France but also with Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Benelux countries and Portugal,"

"These international interconnections will be aimed at utilising renewables most efficiently across our continent, throughout the EU,"

"This will be a guarantee that we will accelerate a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions."

Earlier UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres had addressed the conference of the parties for the first time in his new role. He used the opportunity to call for greater investment in green energy - and an end to subsidies for coal, oil and gas.

Macron's stance on coal puts him at odds somewhat with the German chancellor Ms Merkel
"In 2016, an estimated $825bn were invested in fossil fuels and high emissions sector," he told the meeting.

"We must stop making bets on an unsustainable future that will place savings and societies at risk."

Other leaders and senior ministers were scheduled to address the talks on Thursday amid progress across a raft of technical issues, including the wish of poorer nations to see more action from the richer states in the years before 2020, when the Paris pact kicks in.

There was also some good news from researchers who track the commitments of countries to cut their carbon emissions.

Scientists involved with the Climate Action Tracker said that while the decision of President Trump to withdraw from Paris would impact US commitments, their analysis showed that on the ground actions in India and China were making a difference in curbing emissions.

The report shows that the projected temperature rise facing the world by 2100 had dropped to 3.4C compared to 3.6C a year ago.

"It is clear who the leaders are here," said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, part of the team the group that put the tracker together.

"In the face of US inaction, China and India are stepping up."

"However, both need to review, and strengthen, their Paris commitments. Our projections show they will meet them much earlier than 2030."

France, Europe come to aid of UN climate panel
AFP Yahoo News 16 Nov 17;

Bonn (AFP) - France's president promised funding Wednesday for the UN's IPCC climate science panel, which faces a budget shortfall as it prepares to bring out a major report next year on the planetary perils of global warming.

Europe must cover America's share of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's budget, Emmanuel Macron said at UN climate talks in Bonn, adding that France would "meet that challenge".

"I can guarantee that starting in 2018 the IPCC will not be short a single euro," he said to loud applause.

A collaboration of thousands of experts worldwide, the IPCC issues reports every few years to synthesise and update the prevailing science about global warming caused by atmosphere-fouling emissions from burning fossil fuels.

President Donald Trump, who has vowed to pull the United States out of the climate-rescue Paris Agreement, has also cut funding to the IPCC, the UNFCCC climate secretariat, the Green Climate Fund and other multinational bodies.

Washington has traditionally contributed about $2 million to the IPCC's budget, which was about $5 million last year.

Sharing a stage with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN chief Antonio Guterres, Macron described climate change as "the most significant struggle of our time".

"The point of no return has now been crossed."

- 'Long way to go' -

Envoys are gathered in Germany to negotiate a nuts-and-bolts "rule book" for executing the Paris Agreement.

The hard-fought pact commits countries to limiting average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over Industrial Revolution levels, and to 1.5 C if possible, to avert calamitous climate change-induced storms, drought and sea-level rises.

To bolster the agreement, nations submitted voluntary commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

But the 1 C mark has already been passed, and scientists say that based on current country pledges, the world is headed for a 3 C warmer future, or more.

The IPCC is due to bring out a highly anticipated report next year on the feasibility of the 1.5 C target.

Merkel agreed Wednesday that climate change was "a, if not the, central challenge of mankind."

But she conceded the move away from fossil fuel was not always "that easy".

Coal still provides about 40 percent of Germany's electricity needs, and the country is set to miss its own goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

"We have a long way to go yet," the chancellor told conference delegates, adding that job retention, affordability and economic viability were all aspects to be considered when weighing energy projects.

The issue has dogged Merkel's efforts to form a coalition government consisting of her conservative allies, the anti-coal Greens, and pro-industry Free Democrats.

Read more!