Best of our wild blogs: 24 Jul 18

My Mom Has Returned Home
Wan's Ubin Journal

Singapore Bird Report – June 2018
Singapore Bird Group

Together, giant clams are stronger – deter predators but lower growth
Mei Lin NEO

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NTUC FairPrice scraps 10-cent BYOB rebate, launches new scheme to reduce plastic bag use

Channel NewsAsia 23 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: NTUC FairPrice on Monday (Jul 23) announced the launch of the “FairPrice Plastic Bag Management Programme”, a framework that looks to holistically reduce plastic bag use.

The programme, which was developed following a review conducted earlier this year, will replace the existing FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme on Aug 1.

First introduced in 2007, the scheme offered customers a rebate of S$0.10 for bringing their own bags to shop at FairPrice stores.

“While there has been an increase in the number of plastic bags saved since the FairPrice Green Rewards Scheme was introduced in 2007, progress has plateaued out – averaging at about 10.8 million bags saved per year in the last three years,” FairPrice said in a media release.

The new Plastic Bag Management Programme now targets to save 30 million plastic bags per year by 2030.

NTUC FairPrice CEO, Mr Seah Kian Peng said: “For more than a decade, FairPrice has championed the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) movement in Singapore where we have invested more than S$4 million - through the FairPrice Green Rewards scheme - to urge the community to use fewer plastic bags.

“We will continue to drive this national initiative and focus on a holistic and scalable framework that aims to address the wider impact of plastic bag use on the environment, while taking into consideration customer needs and habits.

"Through this renewed commitment, we look to galvanise the community, industry partners, interest groups and government agencies to create a greater collective impact in protecting our environment.”

The FairPrice Plastic Bag Management Programme will take a four-pronged approach in its efforts to reduce plastic bag usage.

Firstly, it will review internal processes and implement policies and practices to trim plastic bag packaging in operations. Enhanced environmentally-friendly bagging practices will also be introduced for cashiers.

Shoppers will be encouraged to reduce their use of plastic bags and embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle through public education programmes.

FairPrice will work with both governmental and non-governmental organisations to jointly produce and implement education programmes. Among other efforts, FairPrice will support an upcoming public education campaign by Zero Waste SG to raise awareness of BYOB.

FairPrice will also increase investment and continued support for whole-of-nation efforts to reduce plastic bag use.

FairPrice is currently working with Nanyang Polytechnic on activating students from the Nanyang Polytechnic Foundation Programme to design a reusable bag for public distribution.

Beyond this, FairPrice will also work with suppliers and manufacturers to explore better packaging design and material.


In its media release, FairPrice also said it will make donations to organisations who exemplify efforts to promote sustainable practices locally.

FairPrice has since committed S$50,000 to the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Zero Waste SG to fund their sustainability efforts.

“We are very grateful for this long-term collaboration and partnership with NTUC FairPrice towards SEC’s call for action for joint sustainable programmes," said SEC Executive Director, Ms Jen Teo.

"The BYOB programme, which started over a decade ago, has resulted in a remarkable reduction of plastic bags use.

"We shall be announcing many new joint programmes shortly and look forward to working closely with NTUC FairPrice to continue our efforts in 3P partnerships connecting businesses, communities, school and individuals to take action."

Source: CNA/zl(rw)

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Indonesia: Drought hits hundreds of Central Java villages

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 23 Jul 18;

A drought has struck hundreds of villages in Central Java, with agencies in the province sending clean water to subdistricts in Sragen, Boyolali, Klaten and Wonogiri regencies.

The Sragen Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has allocated Rp 44.5 million (US$3,000), equal to 150 water tankers, to provide water to seven high-risk drought districts, namely Tangen, Mondokan, Sumberlawang, Jenar, Miri, Sukodono and Gesi.

“Agency data shows there are 28 villages affected by this drought, which is similar to last year. We have already provided clean drinking water to three villages that are in urgent need,” BPBD Sragen head Sugeng Priyono said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Boyolali BPBD reported that 41 villages in six districts – Wonosegoro, Karanggede, Kemusu, Musuk, Juwangi and Andong – were vulnerable to drought. Several villages have already asked for clean water and the agency has responded with aid.

“We’ve sent water tankers to Juwangi, Musuk and Kemusu because they were the most urgent,” said Boyolali BPBD head Bambang Sinungharjo.

Running out: A resident pumps out the remaining water from Gajah Mungkur dam to water his rice paddy in Wuryanto district in Wonogiri, Central Java, on Saturday. The dry season has brought drought to many regencies in Central Java. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi.
Running out: A resident pumps out the remaining water from Gajah Mungkur dam to water his rice paddy in Wuryanto district in Wonogiri, Central Java, on Saturday. The dry season has brought drought to many regencies in Central Java. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi. (The Jakarta Post/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The Wonogiri BPBD reported that 38 out of 294 villages in the regency were suffering from drought, with a total of 25 districts prone to drought and 12 other districts susceptible to fire.

“The BPBD is ready for the effects of the dry season. Our priorities are providing clean drinking water and irrigation water, as well as tackling house, plantation and forest fires,” said Wonogiri BPBD head Bambang Haryanto.

The dry season in Wonogiri began in April and is predicted to last until September.

Meanwhile, Wonogiri Regent Joko “Jekek” Sutopo announced that his administration received a total of Rp 12 billion in funds from the central government to permanently eradicate drought.

Last year, the regency spent Rp 2,6 billion on a water treatment plant in Paranggupito district that provides clean water to some 554 families composed of 1,300 individuals.

The province is hit by drought annually. Thousands of villages in the province suffered from a water shortage in 2017. (nor)

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Indonesia: Forestry Ministry watching activities of 300 forestry companies

Antara 23 Jul 18;

Pontianak, W. Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said the ministry is watching more closely the activities of 300 forestry and mining companies operating in Indonesia, to see who is responsible for forest and bush fires.

"The Environment and Forestry Ministry is watching the activities of around 300 forestry and mining companies including in West Kalimantan. We will immediately warn them if there is hot spot in their concession areas," Minister Siti Nurbaya said when addressing the opening of a meeting on Synergy in Prevention and Control of Forest and Bush Fires in West Kalimantan here on Monday.

The government is especially concerned with any forest fires in South Sumatra where the country will host Asian Games next month.

Almost every year in dry season forest fires have become a problem with thick smokes blanketing wide areas as far as Malaysia and Singapore.

Siti asks forestry and mining companies to be ready against forest fires during the dry season and help in putting the fires out before they grow big and become out of control.

"We have sent a letter to each of the companies . The companies are expected to answer and give information about the locations of the hot spots. We also ask the companies to take part in handling the hot spots in as far as up to 4 kilometers from their concession," the minister said.

Siti said in general control over forest fires in West Kalimantan has been better and more effective.

"It is good but the system still need improvement such as in the system of giving information about hot spots from application system to one using feedback from the local communities," she said.

She said the method of controlling forest and bush fires in West Kalimantan will be displayed at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

"The public need to know how the government and local people in West Kalimantan have coped with forest fires," she said.

She warned each of the companies as well as the people against using fires for anything including for land clearing.

There are three sanctions for non compliance including administrative, civil law and penal offense sanctions for setting fire on forest or bush lands.

Penal offense is an area of the police but the Ministry could still mete out punishment in the form of administrative sanction and civil law punishment as a deterrent in using fires to open land for farm and plantation or any other purposes, she said.

She said the Ministry is ready to help regional administrations in putting out forest and bush fires.

"If necessary we will send more helicopters . Currently there are six helicopters in West Kalimantan ready anytime to carry out water bombing operation to put out forest fires," she added.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Japan floods a warning of a changed climate

Extreme weather in Japan, which led to a flood that claimed hundreds of lives, tells us that we need to face up to climate change, says one observer.
Kumuda Simpson Channel NewsAsia 20 Jul 18;

MELBOURNE: The scenes in Japan in the wake of torrential rain that has caused landslides and widespread flooding are heartbreaking.

The rains have been described as unprecedented, and the death toll climbed as emergency workers and volunteers search for those who are still missing.

While some people have been able to return to their homes, many of the people who were ordered to evacuate remain displaced. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has committed millions of dollars to aid recovery.

Japan has experienced more than its fair share of disasters, including the devastating tsunami in 2011 that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Scenes this week of flooded landscapes with the roofs of houses just visible above the water are eerily reminiscent of the horrific aftermath of the 2011 tsunami.

However, the recent rain and flooding have different lessons for us. Extreme weather events such as this are very likely to become increasingly common as a result of climate change and the continued warming of the planet.


Heatwaves, bush fires, intense typhoons and cyclones, sea-level rise, flooding, and drought will all increase in both intensity and frequency unless we keep global warming below 1.5 to two degrees Celsius.

Even if we keep global warming below two degrees Celsius we are still likely to face a significantly less stable or predictable climate than the one most of us grew up with.

In response to extreme heat and precipitation events across Asia, Europe, America, and the Middle East during June and July, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change stated that:

Episodes of extreme heat and precipitation are increasing as a result of climate change. Although it is not possible to attribute the individual extreme events of June and July to climate change, they are compatible with the general long-term trend due to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.

In the same week as the disaster in Japan, record hot temperatures were registered across California, with Disneyland soaring to 45 degrees Celsius on Jul 12.

In Australia, the state of New South Wales continued to be affected by one of the worst droughts in recent history. In Muscat, Oman, in June, the temperature didn’t drop below 42 degrees for more than 24 hours.

Reports of record-breaking extremes and violent “once in a hundred year” storms are becoming commonplace.

READ: Days of cool weather do not negate climate change’s destructive impact, a commentary

In media coverage of all these events, climate change is only occasionally mentioned, and often just in passing.

There is a reluctance to talk about climate change in the wake of tragedy, particularly when linking a specific weather event to climate change is complex. Establishing a direct causal link involves complex scientific modelling and analysis of data, with results that are often nuanced rather than clear-cut.

The conclusion is often that while floods and droughts have always occurred, climate change is making their occurrence more frequent. Yet the argument over whether or not this particular drought or that particular storm was directly and indisputably caused by the warming planet is counterproductive.

Instead, it is imperative that we shift the conversation away from a debate about climate change that all too often becomes politicised either though omission or oversimplification.

We must focus on what these events can teach us about the kinds of climate-related risks we face in the near future, and how unprepared we are for them.

The tragedy in Japan should serve as a particularly alarming indicator of the kinds of challenges even the most disaster-prepared country faces. Japan has a highly developed disaster early-warning system, one that was utilised before the worst of the flooding and landslides caused so much devastation.

Early analysis suggests that a combination of urban development and land use in floodprone areas; human complacency in the face of evacuation orders, or an inability to evacuate safely; the sudden onset of torrential rains; and Japan’s unique geography interacted in such a way that the human toll has been unacceptably high.


The Centre for Climate and Security recently released a report titled A Responsibility to Prepare. It argues that we face a future of unprecedented risks as a result of climate change.

Yet we also possess a unique capacity to predict some of these risks and prepare to deal with them. This will involve more than just early-warning systems or financial aid to rebuild after disasters.

It will involve paying attention to the unanticipated consequences of climate change and the human and institutional factors that make resilience or adaptability possible. As researcher Joshua Busby has argued:

The disruption to the Earth’s climate will ultimately command more attention and resources and have a greater influence on the global economy and international relations than other forces visible in the world today.

Our first responsibility should be mitigation. The Paris Agreement must be upheld and strengthened. Failure to radically cut global carbon emissions will mean disasters such as the one unfolding in Japan will become the new normal.

Our second responsibility is to learn from the past and present, and be prepared for a future in which extreme weather events will challenge even the wealthiest, most developed states, and will be devastating for the poorest and least developed.

The global climate is changing, and the planet has already warmed. To continue to ignore or downplay this should no longer be acceptable.

Dr Kumuda Simpson is a lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne. This article first appeared on Lowy Institute's The Interpreter.

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