Friday, August 20, 2010

Man plays God again

If the authorities are really compentent, the problem of mosquitoes is quite simple. The increase of mosquitoes are mainly due to the number of foreign workers, increase in rubber price and the "tidak apa" (couldn't care) attitude of Government servants.
Let me point you to the source of the mosquitoes problems:-
1. Check every foreign workers' squatters, especially the illegals found in the estates and forests
2. Construction sites
3. Rubber estates
4. All outdoor government departments - and even Penang General Hospital's drains (Yes this one is real and I personally saw it with my naked eyes - go see for yourself during the dry season)
There you are, no need to play God, just do your job!
'Don't release new strain of Aedes mosquitoes'
Fri, 20 Aug 2010 06:00
By G Vinod

PETALING JAYA: A plan to release about 3,000 genetically modified Aedes mosquitoes into the environment may be just the weapon needed to curb the spread of the deadly dengue fever. The National Biosafety Board (NBB) is studying the plan in view of the alarming number of lives lost in the country to the infectious disease.

But the Third World Network (TWN), an independent non-profit international body involved in issues relating to development, has sounded a warning: don't jump the gun.

It has urged the NBB to reject the plan, saying the new non-biting male Aedes mosquitoes from the OX513A strain may cause other environmental problems.

The TWN said that a number of factors must be considered before such a move is undertaken.

The NBB is assessing a field experiment proposal from the Institute of Medical Research to release the mosquitoes in Bentong, Pahang, and Alor Gajah, Malacca, in early October.

It is hoped that the genetically-modified OX513A male mosquitoes will mate with the female strain, causing its progeny to be dead and thus eventually reduce the number of Aedes mosquitoes.

Currently, NBB is seeking public opinion over the matter in its website, and the deadline is Sept 4.

“Although the board is seeking public opinion, many other factors must be taken into account before releasing them (mosquitoes),”said TWN's senior researcher Lim Li Ching.

She said that one important factor to be considered is that the progeny of the mosquitoes will only be dead provided the environment is free of an antibiotic called tetracycline.

“However, tetracycline is fairly common as it is used for medical, veterinary, lifestock and agricultural purposes.

“If the mosquitoes breed in the presence of this antibiotic, the progeny may live and may increase the Aedes population in the environment,” said Lim.

Subsequently, the living progeny may pose additional health risks, being the by-product of a genetically modified male.

“These new Aedes mosquitoes may then cause another environmental problem as it may alter the way the disease (dengue) is transmitted,” said Lim.

New strain a concern

Lim added that even if the strategy is effective in suppressing the population of the Aedes mosquitoes in the long run, it may open the gateway to another health problem.

“In a natural ecological cycle, when one species goes down, another takes its place. There is concern that once you suppress the Aedes mosquitoes, another strain may take over their place and cause further harm to humans,” said Lim.

She also has a word of caution for the government: don't jump the gun by releasing the genetically modified insects into the environment because even the international community is wary of it.

“The international community is still debating about the safety of genetically modified food products and here we are planning to release genetically modified insects,” she said.

Lim also questioned whether Malaysia has adequate capacity to control this proposed release.

“Are we able to recall the genetically-modified mosquitoes to control the situation if anything goes wrong?” she asked.

Source here

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Environmentalists want Sabah to scrap coal plant

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
August 19, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 – A Sabah-based enviromentalist group has told the government to call off the proposed Lahad Datu coal-fired power plant after the Department of Environment (DOE) rejected the project’s detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) report.

Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) spokeman Wong Tack said that the state must take stand after DOE’s rejection of the report.

“We thank the DOE for carrying out their duty without fear or favour. Now that a federal agency has made such a decision, we hope that the state government too will take a stand.

“We should all collectively chart a new path towards clean energy that helps create jobs. Going into alternatives to coal, including renewable energy is a solution for Sabah,” he said in a press statement.

Green SURF is a coalition of five NGOs including SEPA, WWF Malaysia, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS).

The DOE recently rejected the DEIA for the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fried plant in Felda Sahabat because many important environmental parameters in the proposed project were not addressed in the report.

The Malaysian Insider had previously reported that an environmental impact assessment on the proposed power plant stated that its construction stands to raise surrounding sea temperature by four degrees Celcius as well as damaging the livelihoods of local fishermen.

According to documents made available to The Malaysian Insider, the power plant near Kampung Sinakut, Lahad Datu, will also result in the loss of a traditional seaweed farming area measuring 4km.

Wong added that DOE’s decision was important as the state government had rejected DEIA’s first proposed site in Silam.

“The decision by DOE speaks volumes as the State Government had in April 2008 rejected the DEIA for the first proposed site in Silam, also in Lahad Datu, on grounds that it would have negative environmental and health impacts.

“Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd’s proposal for a second site in Sandakan did not reach the DEIA level following strong objections from locals,” he said.

The 300MW plant worth more than RM1.3 billion was proposed to generate power supply to help spur development of the Palm Oil Industries Cluster (POIC) Lahad Datu.

The proposed power plant will have four power units, each having a net electrical output of 75MW, and will use the most widely-used method of burning coal to generate steam.

The documents made available to The Malaysian Insider also stated that the maximum total ash generation in the power plant is estimated at 49,000 tonnes per year.

The coal plant was initially proposed in Silam, near Lahad Datu, and Sandakan, but both were rejected by the state government following protests.

Lahad Datu is located within Tawau in eastern Sabah and occupies the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay. The district is also the gateway to the Danum Valley Conservation Area (160 km away), the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east (20km away), and Madai Caves in the south.
Source here

Monday, August 16, 2010

Global warming: Aussie group to work with S’wak tribal leaders

Sun, 15 Aug 2010 11:23
By FMT Staff

KUCHING: Nine tribal leaders in Sarawak have signed an agreement with an Australian based grouping to certify carbon credits under the avoided deforestation program known as REDD+.

The agreement with the Indigenous Customary Land Owners of Sarawak will see Shift2Neutral, a grouping of individuals and companies committed to a sustainable future, work directly with the tribal leaders to achieve realistic change and ensure the protection of their native flora and fauna.

The move underscores regional concern over the increasing effects of global warming and the urgent need to save the world’s third largest island from indiscriminate deforesting.

“The immediate protection of tropical rainforests is critical if we hope to turn the tide on global warming, and the added benefits of conserving these sensitive ecosystems are immeasurable," said the group said in a statement issued recently.

The spokesman said via avoided deforestation, Sarawak could “ensure the protection of the carbon that is already stored in vegetation”.

"The cutting of forests releases billions of tons of greenhouse gases (from carbon stored in trees, plants and soils) into the atmosphere.

“Roughly 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation. By comparison, the entire global transportation sector is responsible for roughly 14% of annual greenhouse gas emissions,” the group said.

Explaining further, the group noted that Shift2Neutral believed that linking people's economic self-interest and the health of ecosystems was one way to generate interest in the conservation challenges facing the world today.

“We believe the business sector could pioneer new ideas, forge new partnerships and implement new solutions that will permanently halt unsustainable deforestation and allow the global society to protect the ecosystems.

“We believe this can be achieved with benefits to the local stakeholders.

“We must recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and the local communities involved," the spokesman said adding that "the total land area involved for the first phase alone more than 100,000 hectares or endangered forest.”

Monday, August 09, 2010

X-rated egg rush in Terengganu

Monday August 9, 2010

KUALA TERENGGANU: Market traders here are openly selling endangered turtle eggs, much to the shock and dismay of the state authorities.

While the Pasar Payang central market traders are enjoying brisk sales of the Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) eggs, State Agriculture and Agro-based committee chairman Ashaari Idris intends to get to the bottom of the illegal business.

“I am really shocked that the market traders are selling eggs collected from the beaches of Terengganu. Previously, they only sold eggs from Indonesia.

“We must catch the culprits supplying them,” he said.

Under the law, only licensed collectors are allowed to harvest the eggs which must be sold to the Fisheries Department, which then sends the eggs to incubators to be hatched.

Ashaari said he would direct his officers to check whether poaching was rampant as it could have a dire effect on the turtle landings on local beaches.

He also stressed that the belief that turtle eggs could improve sexual prowess was a myth. This, however, has failed to stop couples wanting to revive their flagging sex lives from buying the eggs.

Salleh Solat, who has been trading at the market for over two decades, said he had buyers from as far as Kuala Lumpur.

He sells the Green Turtle eggs at RM30 for a packet of 10 and said he could get double or triple the price during off-season.

“There is a huge demand for these eggs as they can also be used to treat asthma and backaches,” he claimed.

He added that he previously sold eggs supplied from Sabah and Indonesia but there was now a great demand for Terengganu eggs.

This was because the locally laid eggs can be obtained for sale within a few hours of collection and therefore fresher, compared with eggs from elsewhere which took about two weeks to reach here.

Salleh said he got his supplies from two agents, but declined to name them.

The endangered Green Turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world. Females lay their eggs at night in a process that takes two hours, each time laying 110 to 115 eggs.

The leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles are already said to be close to extinction in Terengganu while the number of Hawksbill and Green Turtles has also plunged drastically.

It has been reported that a leading cause for the decline of turtle species is egg consumption.