Best of our wild blogs: 17 Nov 18

Can I sell my giant clam ‘pearls’ or shells?
Mei Lin NEO

Google searches reveal public interest in conservation is rising

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What politics and drugs have to do with the hike in rice prices

As with some crops, the weather is one of the reasons Thai jasmine rice costs more – but the situation is more complex that just that. The series For Food’s Sake looks at the issues and some solutions.
Derrick A Paulo and Gosia Klimowicz Channel NewsAsia 17 Nov 18;

THAILAND and SINGAPORE: Because of its taste and texture, it is the key ingredient in the old favourite among Singaporeans, chicken rice. Hom Mali – or fragrant Thai jasmine rice – is also preferred by local Chinese restaurants.

It is one of Thailand’s premium exports, and the World Rice Conference has named it the world’s best rice five times since 2009. But that quality, for the most important staple in Asia, has come at an increasingly higher price.

For hawker Wong Teck Tham, the cost of the rice had increased by more than 10 per cent over the past five years, to about S$100 for every 50 kilogrammes.

He was shocked, however, when it then increased to S$108 around the middle of this year. “I’ve never used rice that’s so expensive,” he said.

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China's ban on trash imports shifts waste crisis to Southeast Asia

As plastic scrap piles up, Malaysia and others fight back.
LAURA PARKER National Geographic 16 Nov 18;

When President Donald Trump signed legislation renewing the federal marine debris program, he blamed Asia for fouling the world’s oceans. He named Japan, China, and “many, many countries” for dumping plastic waste that floats over to the West Coast.

“And we’re charged with removing it, which is a very unfair situation,” he said.

What Trump didn’t acknowledge is that plastic waste polluting the seas cannot be assigned entirely to Asia alone. East and West are inextricably connected by their plastic trash, as wealthy nations sell their recycled plastic scrap to Asia for the simple fact it’s easier to ship it around the world than process it at home.

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Worries over CO2 emissions from intensifying wildfires

Navin Singh Khadka BBC World Service 15 Nov 18;

Rising numbers of extreme wildfires could result in a significant increase in CO₂ emissions, scientists warn.

That could mean attaining the Paris climate agreement's goal of keeping global temperature rise well below 2C could become harder, they say.

Present emission-cut pledges by countries are projected to increase the average global temperature rise by more than 3C by the end of the century.

That would lead to dangerous climate change impacts, experts say.

These include sea level rise, drought, wildfires, among other extreme events.

"We can't neglect the emissions from wildfires," says Ramon Vallejo, a scientist specialising on fire ecology with the University of Barcelona.

"Particularly now that we are seeing intense wildfires all around the world."

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Caribbean swamped by seaweed that smells like rotten eggs

From Belize to Barbados, tourist beaches have been swamped by huge tides of foul-smelling sargassum – and climate change could make the problem worse
Will Worley The Guardian 16 nov 18;

“It was like something out of a science fiction movie,” says Barbara Hall from the office of the beachside hotel she runs in Placencia, southern Belize.

“I woke up at 6am, looked out my window and realised we had a big problem. It was absolutely overwhelming.”

The sight that greeted her that morning was a gargantuan tide of sargassum – a type of ocean seaweed that had swept in overnight. At sea, sargassum is an essential habitat for some marine life, but when it reaches land it rots, sucking up oxygen from the water and emitting hydrogen sulphide gas, which smells like rotten eggs.

It has washed up in the Caribbean in unusually large amounts since 2011, but this year the largest volumes ever have appeared on shores from Barbados to Mexico, with piles several feet deep stretching for miles, and dozens of metres out to sea.

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