Best of our wild blogs: 9 May 19

June School Holiday Activities!
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

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Biggest threat to Johor River’s sustainability is lack of environmental protection: Vivian Balakrishnan

Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 8 May 19;

SINGAPORE: Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (May 8) warned that the "biggest threat" to the sustainability of the Johor River was a lack of environmental protection, as he urged Malaysia to safeguard water quality for the benefit of both sides.

"The biggest threat to Johor's own water supply is actually the lack of environmental protection," Dr Balakrishnan told Parliament. "And the seven episodes since 2017 ... are a clear and present amber warning light."

The minister was referring to the seven pollution incidents that caused PUB's Johor River Waterworks to be temporarily shut down. The most recent case was on Apr 4, when high levels of ammonia were found in the Johor River.

He noted that the PUB plant and two other water treatment plants belonging to Malaysia were "currently drawing more water from the Johor River (than it) can yield on a sustainable basis".

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Tharman calls for innovations in every sphere to reduce trade-off between growth and sustainability

Christie Chiu Straits Times 8 May 19;

SINGAPORE - While more and more young people are seized by the green movement, there is a need for countries and companies to act urgently on the grave risks to sustainability, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

The window is closing fast before there is irreversible damage in living standards for future generations and loss of animal and natural life on the planet.

In his opening address at an international sustainability symposium yesterday, Mr Tharman urged countries and companies to invest in innovations that are more energy efficient and less destructive to the environment.

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New technology being tested to improve detection of illegal shipments

Vanessa Liu Straits Times 8 May 19;

SINGAPORE - The authorities are testing new technology that can more effectively detect illegal shipments including wildlife entering Singapore, especially through the sea checkpoints.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling, speaking in Parliament on Wednesday (May 8), said that the Home Affairs Ministry and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority are testing a prototype of the Multi-Mode Passive Detective System, an automatic scanning system that uses machine-learning algorithms to detect explosives, drugs, humans and other contraband.

She was responding to questions posed by Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) about the measures being taken by the Government to deter and detect the illegal trade of pangolins in Singapore, apart from relying on tip-offs and risk assessment work.

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Several trees across Singapore fall amid widespread thunderstorm

Channel NewsAsia 8 May 19;

SINGAPORE: Several trees were uprooted amid strong winds and heavy showers in Singapore on Wednesday (May 8).

Fengshan Member of Parliament Cheryl Chan shared a photo of one of the fallen trees on her Facebook page, which was captured at Block 116 Bedok North Road.

"Due to heavy rain and strong winds this morning, trees have been reported to have fallen," said Ms Chan. "Town Council is working to clear the fallen trees. I seek residents' assistance to stay clear from those areas and please call Town Council for support in you find any in your area."

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'New economics': the way to save the planet?

Matthew Green,Reuters Yahoo News 9 May 19;

LONDON (Reuters) - The science is in: the endless pursuit of economic growth is devouring the foundations of life on Earth, and no country – rich or poor – can expect to escape dire consequences if things go on as they are. So how might the world change course?

Though still confined to the fringes, a globally dispersed but tight-knit coalition of economists, grass-roots organizers, business leaders and politicians, along with some investors, have begun to sketch out an answer.

The vision: a new relationship between the state, local communities and nature aligned behind a more holistic notion of progress than gross domestic product (GDP), the established yardstick for economies as different as those of the United States and Mozambique.

"No country on Earth is doing what is required to make sure we get toward an economic system capable of confronting the twin challenges of ecological collapse and climate change," said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, an associate fellow at London's Institute for Public Policy Research and lead author of a new report on environmental breakdown titled This Is A Crisis.

"There are, though, a number of ideas and small-scale projects being done that arguably – if scaled up – could deal with the problem," he said. One of those gaining traction was measuring progress in other terms than GDP, which, in essence, measures the market value of a country's goods and services.

More broadly, Laybourn-Langton, 30, and other champions of 'new economics' argue that it is time to acknowledge that the state must play the central role in marshalling a response to looming systemic environmental shocks.

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UN chief says 'total disaster' if warming not stopped

SETH BORENSTEIN and EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Yahoo News 9 May 19;

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations secretary-general said the world must dramatically change the way it fuels factories, vehicles and homes to limit future warming to a level scientists call nearly impossible.

That's because the alternative "would mean a catastrophic situation for the whole world," António Guterres told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

Guterres said he's about to tour Pacific islands to see how climate change is devastating them as part of his renewed push to fight it. He is summoning world leaders to the U.N. in September to tell them "they need to do much more in order for us to be able to reverse the present trends and to defeat the climate change."

That means, he said, the world has to change, not in small incremental ways but in big "transformative" ways, into a green economy with electric vehicles and "clean cities."

Guterres said he will ask leaders to stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Burning coal, oil and gas triggers warming by releasing heat-trapping gases.

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