Travel advisories and Zika

In the past week, Singapore has seen the emergence and rise of Zika cases. The response from the region is telling… With several countries issuing travel advisories, dissuading potential travellers from visiting.

With the “ongoing transmission of Zika virus” in Singapore, travellers to the city-state should take additional measures advised by health authorities, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an update on its website on Monday (Aug 29).

For women, this includes “deferring non-essential travel if pregnant, avoiding pregnancy for two months following your return”, the website said.

Source: channelnewsasia 


Getting charcoal from mangroves – short term benefits, but long term problems?

How can communities and governments balance the need for environmental conservation and economic survival?
Can the locals afford to be forward looking and consider the long term impacts when food/ income is not guaranteed? Could anything be done differently?

Source: How is charcoal made from mangroves?

“Japanese fire up Malaysia’s mangrove coal industry

Varsha Tickoo, Reuters 4 Mar 09;


Nearly half of Perak is covered with mangrove forest called Matang, the largest in the Malaysian peninsula, spread over more than 40,000 hectares covering nearly half of the state.

The government has a replanting exercise in place but there are environmental concerns about the dwindling forest that guards wildlife, protects against climate change and events such as the tsunami, by acting like a barrier against the Indian Ocean.

“I understand these mangrove trees are very dense and make good charcoal but this would be like burning the Mona Lisa to keep you warm,” said Glen Barry, President of Ecological Internet Inc, a U.S.-based non-governmental organisation.

He said the mangrove harvest exceeded the number of mangroves regenerated, due in part to the fact that the trees take 30 years to mature.

But this may be a hard sell to the local people, who depend on the swamps to eke out a living in a state that is the second biggest on the peninsula by area but contributes less than 4 percent to the country’s economy.

“I’m not young anymore, what other job can I do?” says Mahteh Mah, a 43 year-old mother of three, wiping the sweat from her face on a dusty afternoon at the charcoal factory.”


Source: How is charcoal made from mangroves?

The battle against HIV/AIDS is nowhere near being won

What we have won: 

Annual AIDS deaths have declined from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2015. There is no AIDS cure or vaccine. antiretrovirals (ART) cocktails suppress the virus, enabling people to live long lives, though the drugs are expensive and can have side effects.
Use of antiretrovirals, for long the preserve of the rich, grew from 6.4 per cent of infected men in 2005 to 38.6 per cent ten years later, and from 3.3 per cent to 42.4 per cent for women over the same period, the study found.

Another factor that has helped cut the death rate was education and medicines to prevent infected women passing the virus onto their unborn children.

What we are still figuring out:

New infections of HIV in the world is probably the most disturbing factor that has been announced here at the conference,” he added.

The situation could be worsened by funding shortages for HIV/AIDS programmes and medicines.

“In 2015, (funding) fell below the level spent in 2014, and in many low-income countries, resources for health are scarce and expected to grow slowly, if at all,” said Wang at a press conference in Durban. “We must slow rates of new infection.”

“Global efforts have had less impact on the incidence of new infections than on HIV mortality,” concluded the report. “Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will require a dramatic change in how HIV prevention is pursued.” 

Source: channelnewsasia

Combating sea level rise using sea walls – is this the best & only option? 

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 04 November 2006.
“We’re coming up with these hard engineering solutions to fight nature. Artificial headlands, seawalls … they are Band-Aid solutions. The most cautious thing to do would be to maintain proper buffer zones.”

Why people still prefer seawalls:

Rissik is sanguine about the concentration of infrastructure around Australia’s coast. “From a pathway from the beach, a local economy grows and, once that is established, it anchors people to that area and change is very difficult.”

Rissik says: “People forget and they build there again.”

Seawalls and other hard engineering methods can be very effective in stopping natural coastal processes – erosion as well as deposit. This resulting in stable coastlines, allowing people to stay and build communities. 

However, how sustainable is this with sea levels rising yearly? There comes a tie where the safer option is to retreat further inland and to establish a buffer zone between water and settlement.

Source: Guardian