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Mon 31 Jan 2005

Dangerous levels of climate change as early as 2026, warns WWF

Category : envt

"31 Jan 2005 - A new study commissioned by WWF shows that dangerous levels of climate change could be reached in just over 20 years time.

The review of global climate simulations suggests that if nothing is done, the earth will have warmed by 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels (c. 1750) by some time between 2026 and 2060. In the Arctic this could lead to a loss of summer sea ice, species, and some types of tundra vegetation as well as to a fundamental change in the ways of life of Inuit and other arctic residents."

Download the WWF study - 2 degrees is too much!: Evidence and Implications of Dangerous Climate Change in the Arctic [PDF file, 5.8 MB].

Source: WWF. See also Reuters.

Posted at 5:06PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 31 Jan 2005

Costly comparisons

Category : articles

Euston Quah writes to the forum page (The Straits Times, 31 January 2005) to champion 'techniques such as cost-benefit analysis, valuation of non-market environmental goods and impact analysis as a means to place a monetary value on the environment where affected by development projects.'

Essentially he suggests quantifying environmental goods in order to attempt meaningful comparisons for decision making, i.e an index, whose unit, in this case, happens to be dollars.

I am wary since many indices, which are enticing in their usefulness in comparisions. But these often propagate ills from in-built biases. Economic valuation is particularly dangerous as the respectability of a seemingly objective method, can mask an inadequacy or an incomprehensive grasp of enviromental and societal value.

Just like IQ tests.

Furthermore, quantification of many non-economic aspects is difficult and highly subjective, assuming these are even identified in the first place.

For example, a tsunami protection system in the Indian Ocean, costing millions of dollars, is now considered extremely cheap. Priot to 26 Dec 2004, it would have been considered an unneccessary expense. Holistic ecological principles meanwhile that suggest sustainable development, are ignored and their economic value resisted or questioned.

Mr Budak argues in a similar but more detailed manner, and ends by asking:

"... should such an approach be universally prescribed for all facets of life as well? Whether to marry, to have children, to pursue a hobby, embrace a faith, honour our history and leave a legacy? Should we seek to assign a price to everything, and in doing, forget the value of it all?"

Read the original forum page letter and Mr Budak's response at The Annotated Budak [pdf].

Posted at 4:05PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 31 Jan 2005

"Sea warriors with a passion to preserve"

Category : marine

"Sea warriors with a passion to preserve." By Radha Basu, The Straits Times, 31 Jan 2005 [pdf]. They form 3 groups to protect marine life here from harm and educate public.

AT LEAST three conservation groups have sprung up in the last year bound by one abiding passion - to preserve Singapore's marine wealth for posterity. They not only work to fend off thieves, but also to spread the word via the Internet, by organising tours and by other means about the huge treasure trove of sea creatures in local waters.

The biggest battle this ragtag army of volunteers faces is ignorance. 'It's difficult to get people to appreciate the beauty and importance of something they don't even know exists,' said marine biologist Loh Tse-Lynn, 26. The Blue Water Volunteers [s]he started last year with about a dozen others now have around 200 members, who survey coral reefs and report on damage. They are helped in their quest by the two kindred groups.

One is 11-month-old Hantu Bloggers, which focuses on protecting Pulau Hantu. The other is the Labrador Park Watch initiative, which is trying to stop the theft of corals from the southern Singapore beach.

'We have caught men equipped with buckets and hammers, recklessly breaking the corals,' said teacher Mindy Neo, 26, of the latter. She leads the patrols at the nature reserve. Sometimes, an explanation is enough to stop the illegal harvesting. More often than not, they have to call in National Parks Board rangers, who also patrol the park.

Although Singapore has lost more than 60 per cent of its live coral habitat, it still has about 54 sq km of reef, about a tenth the size of the mainland. Most of the corals are in a cluster of about 20 islands around Sentosa that include Pulau Hantu, Kusu, St John's, Semakau and the Sisters islands.

But they are under threat from land reclamation and dredging activities.

The groups have a supporter in Nature Society president and Nominated Member of Parliament Geh Min, who on Jan 25, made an impassioned speech in Parliament on the need to preserve the island's coral reefs. [link]

The 8,000 species of plants and animals recorded here mean Singapore has a greater diversity of marine life than Australia's Great Barrier Reef, she said.

Volunteers are also using the Internet as a tool.

National University of Singapore researcher Jani Thuaibah from the Blue Water Volunteers (www.bluewater volunteers.org) and freelance writer Debbie Ng from the Hantu Bloggers (habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/news/pulauhantu) regularly post photographs with descriptions of their finds. 'Even though visibility is usually poor, you sometimes get to see the most beautiful things,' said Ms Thuaibah.

Ms Ng says she and fellow divers have spotted many rare creatures, such as sea-horses and sea snakes. She has taken 200 people on dive tours.

Another enthusiast is amateur photographer and civil servant Ria Tan, 44. Her snaps of clownfish (like the well-known cartoon character Nemo), shrimp anemones, sea horses, sea urchins and dozens of other creatures are found at www.wildsingapore.com.

She said: 'This is possibly the only place in the world where pristine rainforests, tropical mangroves and rich coral reefs all lie within 20 minutes of each other.'

'That,' she adds, 'is what is uniquely Singapore.'

Some of these sea warriors have been on NewsRadio 93.8FM's Living Room recently.

Listen to the interviews of Debby Ng (Pulau Hantu bloggers), Ria Tan (WildSingapore), Zeehan Jaafar (NUS/coastal studies) and Kate Thome & Airani (International Coastal Cleanup Singapore).

Posted at 3:53AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Mon 31 Jan 2005

Photo project - To Singapore With Love

Category : photos

To commemorate Singapore's 40th year of independence on 9th August 2005, Mr Kwek Leng Joo, Managing Director of City Developments Limited, has initiated a photo project to produce a memorable pictorial book entitled To Singapore with Love.

All Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, Student Pass or Work Permit holders residing in Singapore are welcome to contribute images that reflect the theme. The photo book will be distributed locally and abroad. So, be a part of this photo book which will do Singapore proud!

Theme: To Singapore with Love
Image Categories: 1. Love for Nature, 2. Love for Arts & Culture, 3. Love for the People.

See the TSWL webpage for more details.

Posted at 3:19AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news