What if Singapore does not have 50 to 100 years to deal with climate change?

BENJAMIN HORTON Today Online 21 Aug 19;

I watched Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 18) night. It was the single most impressive talk about the threat of sea-level rise by a political leader.

In particular, Mr Lee balanced talk of urgency with hopeful and creative ideas to inspire positive change. Mr Lee made it clear that climate change is a matter of life and death for Singapore.

Having studied the issue for 25 years, I am also very worried about sea-level rise and strongly believe that we must urgently act on it. I am the only scientist in Singapore to be part of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group that produced a report on the physical science of climate change. 

There is a phrase “if you knew what I knew”. Mr Lee noted that the UN has projected that sea levels will rise by 1m by the end of this century but that scientists’ estimates have been going up and sea levels may rise higher and faster than that.

I would say that we should be careful about underestimating the risk. Published peer reviewed studies by myself and other members of the IPCC suggest there is a one in 20 chance sea-level rise in Singapore could be in excess of 2.5m by 2100.

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150 hatchlings born last year at Singapore's only turtle hatchery: NParks

About 150 baby turtles were hatched last year at Singapore's first and only hatchery for these marine creatures, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Aug 21), nearly a year since its official launch in September 2018. Junn Loh reports.
Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 21 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: About 150 baby turtles were hatched last year at Singapore's first and only hatchery for these marine creatures, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Aug 21), nearly a year since its official launch in September 2018.

The turtle hatchery at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park was built as part of efforts to provide a safe space for incubating eggs, which faces threats caused by human traffic, light pollution and predators such as monitor lizards.

Singapore is home to two species of turtles: the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle, both of which are critically endangered.

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Singapore Mulls Bonds, Reserves for $72 Billion Climate Fight

Philip Heijmans and Yongchang Chin Bloomberg 21 Aug 19;

Singapore is weighing options including the issuance of government bonds to fund the S$100 billion ($72 billion) it could take to fight rising sea levels over the next century.

In the short-term, funding for projects such as a S$400 million upgrade to the city-state’s drainage systems to boost flood resilience will come from ministry-level expenditures, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in an interview on Wednesday. Longer term spending, he said, could require the government to tap its national reserves and issue state bonds.

“For those that have to be spent that will benefit future generations, we’re talking about borrowing so that whatever we spend for the future will also be paid for by the future generations,” Masagos told Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin. “S$100 billion is actually a lot of money even if spent over 100 years.”

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‘Calamity may come’ if Singapore doesn’t take care of its coastlines now: Masagos Zulkifli

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources also shared more on the citizens’ workgroup, saying one problem it will look at is how to increase the recyclability of items in neighbourhood blue bins.
Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 21 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Calamity could befall Singapore if it does not start dealing with the climate change threat to its coastlines today and leaves it until it is too late, warned Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Aug 21).

In an interview with CNA938, Mr Masagos reiterated the threat of rising sea levels to Singapore that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had spoken about in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.

Mr Masagos said that scientists have concluded that sea levels will rise by 1m by the end of the century, and when faced together with high tide and heavy rain, will become a “very difficult problem to overcome”.

The long-term impact will not just be on the environment, but also on Singapore’s economy and jobs, said Mr Masagos, adding that this is precisely why Singapore has to take immediate and long-term measures to ensure its coastlines are well protected.

“This problem is going to come upon us slowly over the next century, over the decades,” he said.

“If we start now, we can certainly build over time. If we start too late, then calamity may just come over us.”

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Malaysia: Minimising conflict between humans and elephants

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 22 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Elephant Sanctuary (JES) will be beneficial to both the largest land animal in South-East Asia and humans as it is designed to reduce conflicts between them.

State Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban said the 57.23ha land, located near Kampung Panti in Kota Tinggi, was expected to be completed this year.

“Elephants are migratory animals and in Johor, they have been found moving within four districts - Kota Tinggi, Kluang, Mersing and Segamat.

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Malaysia: Elephants trapped in mud pit rescued

Mohd Rafi Mamat New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

PEKAN: A herd of elephants including a young calf were rescued after getting trapped in an abandoned mud pit at the Ibam forest reserve near Runchang, here, yesterday.

Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers took about four hours to dig a path and chase the elephants to climb out of a steep mud pit which is believed to be an abandoned gold mining site.

State Perhilitan director Rozidan Md Yasin said the Orang Asli community who lived nearby had stumbled upon the animals stuck in the pit at about noon and immediately alerted the department.

He said four rangers were deployed to the scene and they sought help from a mining company operator in the vicinity to help bring the animals out.

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Malaysia: Sale of white-rumped shama bird going overboard, laws needed to protect the songbird

The Star 21 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The international trade of South-East Asia's most popular songbird, the white-rumped shama, has led to "incredible numbers" of birds seized in markets in and around Malaysia, a 2018 study revealed.

According to wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, the study found that close to 70% of 15,480 white-rumped shamas seized in South-East Asia between 2008 and 2018 were destined for international trade.

The wildlife trade routes run mainly from and through Malaysia, and to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

In 2017, the single biggest cross-border seizure involved 4,280 white-rumped shamas smuggled from Malaysia to Indonesia by boat, the study published in Oriental Bird Club found.

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Malaysia: Over 400 wild animals seized in Sibu

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

SIBU: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation seized more than 400 wild animals which included protected species during their operations last week.

Its Chief Executive Officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said a total of 366 animals from 38 species protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were rescued.

“Our team also seized four Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) and a black hornbill, which are among the total of protected species,” he said.

Other protected species included pheasants, Hill Mynas, owls, Prevost's squirrels, parrots, mousedeer, peacocks, kijang (barking deer), punai (green pigeon) and tortoise.

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Malaysia: API in Miri remains unhealthy despite water bombing

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

KUCHING: Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in southern Sarawak remains unhealthy despite a week of water bombing and firefighting operations to mitigate the ongoing haze.

Two stations at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) and SK Kuala Baram 2, recorded API 156 and 132 respectively as of 3pm today.

Although the API readings of the two stations have dropped from hazardous to unhealthy levels, the environment in Miri remains hazy and searing hot.

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Indonesia: Minister admits poor law enforcement against those who ignite forest fire

Antara 22 Aug 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto has admitted poor law enforcement against individuals applying slash and burn method caused forest and land fires. He said the government would take a different approach to stop the traditional farming practices.

"This traditional society, we have reminded them. Corporations can help them with tractors (for land clearing) hence they do not have to burn the forest," Wiranto said after a meeting on land and forest fire here on Wednesday.

According to Wiranto the sanction imposed for individuals that ignited the fires was ineffective to stop the practice.

"It is ineffective, we have to find another way to solve the problem. Because they practise this for generations. But we have to change the mindset, and we need the help of all stakeholders to change their mindset," Wiranto remarked.

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Indonesia: Greater Jakarta, Banten likely to experience intense drought

The Jakarta Post 21 Aug 19;

Residents of Greater Jakarta and Banten should prepare for drought for 20 to 60 days as there is little chance of rain until September, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned.

The agency said in a statement that most of Greater Jakarta and Banten is likely to experience an extended period of drought during the dry season.

Furthermore, the agency also forecast little chance of rain in the remainder of August and September.

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