Best of our wild blogs: 16 Jan 19

Bukit Timah: The Highest Hill in Singapore
My Nature Experiences

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December 2018 was 2nd warmest year-end on record; Met Service warns of long-term warming in Singapore

VICTOR LOH Today Online 15 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE — If December felt hotter than usual, your hunch is right.

The last month of 2018 was the second warmest December since 1929, while the past decade is the warmest on record.

"These are signs of the long-term warming trend in Singapore," the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 15).

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Food importers may be required to help tackle supply disruptions

Move among steps to beef up food security; new agency to boost safety for consumers
Tiffany Fumiko Tay Straits Times 16 Jan 19;

Importers of key food items may be required to come up with preventive strategies and other plans to mitigate the impact of supply disruptions to Singapore, which imports more than 90 per cent of its food and is vulnerable to factors affecting global supply, such as disease outbreaks and climate change.

This and other measures to beef up Singapore's food security were included in two Bills tabled in Parliament yesterday to dissolve the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and split its functions between the National Parks Board (NParks) and a new statutory board to oversee food safety and security.

The AVA will cease in April and its plant-and animal-related functions, including animal welfare, will be transferred to NParks.

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Singapore aiming to become region's urban agriculture technology hub: Koh Poh Koon

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations".
Sue-Ann Tan Straits Times 15 Jan 19;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has the "right ingredients" to make it the urban agriculture and aquaculture technology hub in the region, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said on Tuesday (Jan 15).

In a keynote speech at the Indoor Ag-Con Asia conference at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which is being held in Singapore for the fourth time, Dr Koh said Singapore is in a strong position to "catalyse technological and business innovations", as it has a climate for innovation, strong talent base and strategic location which can transform agriculture and aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Where arable land is scarce, innovating how we produce food is critical in helping us overcome our farming constraints and better contribute to our food sustainability and traceability efforts," he said.

"Investments in agri-tech can also help to reduce our reliance on food imports and allow us to enjoy seasonal produce while lowering our carbon footprint."

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Indonesia: Cable ship sinks after collision with tanker in Bintan

Fadli The Jakarta Post 14 Jan 19;

The Indonesian Navy has deployed several vessels after the Vanuatu-registered cable ship the MV Star Centurion collided with the Hong Kong-flagged tanker MT Antea on Sunday morning in Bintan waters, Riau Islands.

The Singaporean authorities previously rescued some 20 crew members from the sinking Star Centurion, which was a vessel designed for undersea pipeline work. The Antea sustained damage to its hull in the accident at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday in Tanjungberakit.

Based on images of the damage to the respective ships, it would appear the Star Centurion crashed into the side of the Antea. The Star Centurion capsized and sank within hours.

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Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished
Damian Carrington The Guardian 15 Jan 19;

“We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming.

“It was just astonishing,” Lister said. “Before, both the sticky ground plates and canopy plates would be covered with insects. You’d be there for hours picking them off the plates at night. But now the plates would come down after 12 hours in the tropical forest with a couple of lonely insects trapped or none at all.”

“It was a true collapse of the insect populations in that rainforest,” he said. “We began to realise this is terrible – a very, very disturbing result.”

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Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study

Scientists say it may still technically be possible to limit warming to 1.5C if drastic action is taken now
Damian Carrington The Guardian 15 Jan 19;

Climate change could be kept in check if a phaseout of all fossil fuel infrastructure were to begin immediately, according to research.

It shows that meeting the internationally agreed aspiration of keeping global warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is still possible. The scientists say it is therefore the choices being made by global society, not physics, which is the obstacle to meeting the goal.

The study found that if all fossil fuel infrastructure – power plants, factories, vehicles, ships and planes – from now on are replaced by zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their useful lives, there is a 64% chance of staying under 1.5C.

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