Archive for the ‘Environmental Education’ Category

Education on Sabah’s wildlife at historic site

Monday, April 1st, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The ruins of the former historic Welfare Building site along Jalan Haji Saman came alive with vibrant colourful paintings depicting Sabah’s wildlife.

The columns or pillars of the building – remnants of a mysterious fire in the late 1990s – were painted with 30 different endangered wildlife whether in the forest or in the sea with the aim of promoting awareness on climate change and the need to protect Sabah’s endangered wildlife.

This is the second edition of a community art project, called the Pillars of Sabah 2.0, jointly organised by a group of young art enthusiasts in collaboration with the WWF-Malaysia and supported by the State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and City Hall.

The project also received 25 different paint colours from Nippon Paint as part of their corporate social responsibility to the cause.

The newly revamped Pillars of Sabah 2.0 was officiated in conjunction with Earth Hour 2019, Saturday.

“With this comes hope that the pillars will be a platform of education for all who come to admire the art,” said Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew when officiating the event.

By: Sherell Jeffrey.

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Construction projects to be given environmental-friendly rating from December 2020.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Construction projects worth RM100mil and above will soon be given an environmental sustainability rating to encourage companies to think of designs that do less harm to the environment.

This comes following the launch of the Sustainable Infrastructure Rating Tool (Sustainable Infrastar) by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

The CIDB has also set a target of certifying 50% of new infrastructure projects as environmentally sustainable starting December 2020.

Works Minister Baru Bian said such a move is needed due to growing environmental concerns.

Sustainable Infrastar will rate an infrastructure’s design based on six core criteria including its impact to the ecology and environment, the handling of material resources and waste, energy performance, its impact on society and culture, site land use, and will also take into a building’s pre-design and pre-construction.

Projects will be ranked on a five-star rating system with five stars being the top mark.

Five projects are currently being assessed using the new tool such as a regional sewage treatment plant at Bandar Indera Mahkota in Pahang, the power generation plant in Sandakan, Sabah, the

Kahang Dam construction in Kluang, Johor, the Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway and Section 4 of the West Coast Expressway that links Banting to Taiping.

Baru said eventually, smaller projects will be encouraged to use the tool to measure their impact on the environment. However, no timeline was set.

Separately, Baru said the government will put in measures to further boost the construction industry despite the challenging economic landscape.

Baru said he is optimistic of growth judging from the number of delegates at the 19th CIDB International Construction Week (ICW 2019) as well as ongoing work on mega projects such as the Pan-

Borneo Highway and the Central Spine Road (CSR), which is also known as the Kuala Krai-Kuala Pilah Highway.

By Jo Timbuong
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NST Leader: Get to the bottom of it now

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
(File pix) No one lifted a finger despite all the reports by residents, whose lives were being threatened by ‘environmental terrorists’ in their midst. NSTP/MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN

MANY are outraged and rightly so. The disaster caused by the dumping of toxic waste into the once-brown waters of Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, has caused almost 3,000 students and residents, along with several reporters, to be admitted to hospital, with seven in the intensive care unit of Hospital Sultan Ismail.

Fortunately, no life has been lost. It was a crisis waiting to happen as the dumping of the chemical waste, believed to have originated from tyre recycling factories, has been going on since 2012, and the river is now “dead”.

All this happened right under the nose of the enforcers, including the Department of Environment (DOE), and others that were supposed to monitor the operations of factories and shut down the illegal ones.

However, nothing was done. No one lifted a finger despite all the reports by residents, whose lives were being threatened by “environmental terrorists” in their midst.

Evidently, enforcement teams in Johor had ignored the alarm bells since 2012.

The New Straits Times yesterday reported that residents had complained numerous times about the water slowly turning from brown to black, but no action was ever taken.

It is worrying that the existence of murky and polluted rivers, many of which meander through our industrial areas, seems not to have troubled our sensibilities. Only the spectre of death worries us.

With polluted rivers becoming the norm, we are not about to call for the setting up of more task forces.

The ministries responsible should reveal plans to clean up our rivers and crack down on polluters. We expect to see a series of press conferences detailing urgent measures to clean up the mess.

The high cost involved in doing so is also not an excuse for a do-nothing policy. We need to know the root causes of the things that are killing our rivers.

Our efforts in dealing with the problem have so far been a major failure. If nothing is done now, we will begin to worry about similar issues elsewhere for sure.

It is also time that those who have failed to act against the polluters are held accountable for all that is going on.

Officials cannot continue claiming ignorance, or innocence, each time something like this happens under their watch. It is unacceptable that they are not even able to detect the illegal factories, which are openly operating and polluting the environment.

Disciplinary and legal action must be taken if they are found to be negligent or corrupt.

It is also hoped this whole drama of getting to the bottom of the issue does not end in an anti-climax of the same old promises being repeated, with little action to actually solve the problem.

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Unhealthy air quality recorded in KK, Kimanis

Sunday, March 17th, 2019
Sabah’s Department of Environment (DOE) has warned the public against carrying out open burning after the air pollution index (API) in two districts here reached an unhealthy level. (NSTP/MALAI ROSMAH TUAH)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s Department of Environment (DOE) has warned the public against carrying out open burning after the air pollution index (API) in two districts here reached an unhealthy level.

As of yesterday, Kota Kinabalu and Kimanis stations have recorded API of over 100.

“This (unhealthy API) was caused by bush fires in several areas due to the current hot and dry weather,” it said in a statement today.

Among the bush fires recorded were Bukit Indah Permai covering two hectares, Bukit Sepanggar (4ha), Kampung Kauluan in Tuaran (6ha), Kota Kinabalu’s Institut Kemahiran Mara (6ha) and Taman Putera Perdana (6ha).

In Kimanis, peat fires were sighted along Jalan Bongawan-Kimanis-Papar.

The DOE added that no discounts would be given to compounds issued and advised the public to cut down on outdoor activities, stop all outdoor extracurricular activities for students as well as postpone all outdoor gatherings/sports.

Since the ban on open burning was enforced in January, the department said it had issued 42 warning letters, three order notices, nine compounds and opened three investigation papers

By Wan Faizal Ismayatim.

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Chemical waste pollution in Sg Kim Kim affects livelihood of fishermen.

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

JOHOR BARU: The chemical waste pollution in Pasir Gudang, since March 7, has not only affected the health of people around the region but has led to a decline in catch and fishermen’s sales to drop.

South Johor Fishermen’s Association chairman, Azli Mohamad Aziz said 650 members of the association from several villages claimed their sales revenue had dropped by 50% over the last 10 days since the incident..

“The pollution has affected 250 fishermen from four villages around Sungai Kim Kim, namely orang asli fisherman from Telok Kabung, Kampung Perigi Aceh, Kampung Pasir Putih and Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, to whom the river was a source of income,” he said when met at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru fishermen’s market, here Saturday (March 16).

He said about 400 fishermen around had also received the backlash of the pollution, including fishermen from Tanjung Langsat, Kong Kong, Kampung Sungai Tiram and Bakar Batu, as sales slumped because people were afraid to buy their catch.

He said that normally, the sale of fishermen at the Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru Fishermen Market was estimated at 100kg to 150kg per day with a total turnover of RM3,000 to RM4,000, but now it had dropped to 18kg to 30kg a day over the 10 days with sales between RM300 and RM600.

Over the last four days, two tonnes of fish and marine products worth RM5,000 had accumulated and had to be kept in the refrigerator in the market because of no buyers.

Regarding the pollution in Sungai Kim Kim, rich in ‘ikan kitang’, ’selangat’, ‘belanak’, ‘belukang’ and snails, Azli also said, he understood more than 40 police reports were lodged by Teluk Kabung Orang Asli fishermen since March 6, reporting that the river water had turned turbid causing fish to die and there was a stench.

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Mangrove ecosystem’s importance not understood

Thursday, February 14th, 2019
The Sungai Bukit Tambun mangrove area. Mangroves contribute to coastal protection from erosion and extreme weather changes. FILE PIC

MANGROVE forests are a unique ecosystem which are located between the land and sea.

Mangroves can be found in 118 countries in the world, representing one per cent of the tropical forest worldwide, and less than 0.4 per cent of the world forests. Mangrove swamps provide a very important ecosystem to both human life and the diversity of life that inhabits it.

Firstly, humans are highly dependent on the products of the mangrove forest, which are its timber resources and fishery resources. Mangroves are the breeding grounds and early growth areas of various species of ocean life living on coral reefs.

Next, mangroves contribute to coastal protection from erosion and protect the environment from extreme weather changes. Besides this, the mangrove forest is important in maintaining water quality, trapping sediments and filtering pollutants originating from activities in the surrounding areas. This is compatible with the Quranic verse which means: “He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth; according to His calculations” (Surah Al-Sajdah, 32: 5).

Unfortunately, not many are aware of the importance of the mangrove ecosystem, causing them to be neglected, thus leading to the threat of its extinction. This is evident throughout Malaysia today in which mangroves are becoming increasingly threatened by various unhealthy human activities, such as reclamation of land for aquaculture, agriculture, industry or housing, coastal resort development, ports, roads, airports and oil exploration; widespread logging; and pollution.

It was recently reported that the sole surviving mangrove forest on government land located in the middle of Pekan Baru Batu Maung and adjacent to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Park was being threatened by irresponsible dumping of construction and industrial wastes.

Such activity had harmed the river across the mangrove swamp, turning it brackish and mixed with solids, along with the waste material disposed of at the dumpsite catching fire and scorching some of the mangrove tress that surrounded the open ground.

Such an incident should not have happened. Instead, the Batu Maung mangrove should have been given better protection, and it needs urgent as well as stringent action by all parties concerned be they local, state and federal governments to ensure that the sole remaining mangrove is fully protected and conserved.

All parties should be aware that the mangrove ecosystem is a valuable asset to the country and is among the region’s most productive ecosystems in the world. Not only is it an important area of human life, but it also has benefits to the overall ecosystem and economy.

The survival of the mangrove ecosystem is also important because of its great function in helping to protect coastal areas as well as controlling erosion. As an example, the mangrove ecosystem acts as wind-breakers, protecting against strong winds at coastlines. If the mangrove ecosystems continue to be destroyed, then the affected areas will be exposed to rainstorms, floods and erosion.

Yet, many still do not realise the importance of the mangrove ecosystems. In fact, it was found that the current level of public awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems is still relatively low in comparison to other ecosystems. This has led to conservation efforts of the ecosystem to reach a critical level in Malaysia.

In preserving the mangrove swamp ecosystems, efforts to foster awareness among communities should be done proactively, so that the ecosystems are not marginalised, which can then contribute to their extinction in the future. Perceptions of some members of the community who consider mangroves as idle ecosystems need to be changed.

Such people should be given appropriate exposure in terms of accurate information and knowledge from time to time on the ecosystem which also has its own important role as supplied by other ecosystems.

This effort is crucial in order for the survival of the mangrove ecosystem to be maintained not only for the benefit of humans, but also its survival as an important habitat for plants and animals rarely found in other ecosystems.

For such an effort, all parties need to be committed to ensuring that efficient management of the mangrove ecosystem can be achieved by trying to address the weaknesses of the past management system, enhancing knowledge of the mangrove ecosystem and sharing accurate information with all levels of society.

In addition, the restoration of mangrove ecosystems needs to be the main agenda in the sustainable development of the country. The high commitment at the leadership level towards this effort is necessary to ensure proactive action is taken in order to sustain the sustainability of mangrove ecosystems.

For example, mangrove replanting efforts should be taken seriously by getting the community to be involved in the activity to understand and learn more about the existence of the ecosystem in the future. Their participation in such activities will certainly raise awareness amongst them to safeguard and preserve the mangrove ecosystems.

By Rosmidzatul Azila Mat Yamin.

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Hot weather till middle of year

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Azemi Daud

KOTA KINABALU: The hot weather in Sabah is expected to prevail until May or until the middle of this year.

Sabah Meteorological Department director Azemi Daud told the Borneo Post that the temperature will not be too extreme.

“The cause is the weak El Nino which is expected to continue up until the middle of this year,” he said.

Azemi also said that this will result in lower rainfall in Sabah by 20 percent to 40 percent from the monthly average.

by Jenne Lajiun

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Hot weather, less rain in Sabah

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Azemi Daud

KOTA KINABALU: The hot weather and minimal rain Sabah is experiencing now is expected to prolong for a week but the temperature remains normal, according to the Sabah Meteorological Department.

Its director, Azemi Daud, said yesterday the maximum temperature in the state currently was 33 degrees Celsius, which he pointed out was normal.

“The department will continue to monitor the temperature and issue a warning should a heat wave phenomenon occur,” he told Bernama.

Azemi said that based on the survey of international climate models, there was a 90 per cent probability of the El Nino phenomenon occurring in Sabah up to March and a 60 per cent probability of it prolonging until May.

As such, he advised the people to refrain from open burning and to save water.

The MetMalaysia website has forecast minimum temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius and maximum temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius as well as scattered rainfall in the state up to Jan 19.


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Climate change and human health

Monday, December 31st, 2018

(File pix) Constant exposure to hot weather can have a serious effect on people’s health. Pix by NSTP/ Muhd Asyraf Sawal

THE 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—the most important climate conference since the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 — ended on Dec 15 with the adoption of the Katowice Rulebook.

Though it is one further step forward, action to confront global warming is still wanting. Most countries’ current climate targets will not be enough to limit global warming to significantly under 2°C and ideally to 1.5°C.

Without further efforts, the global temperature could increase by over 3°C by 2100. The foreseeable effects of climate change would pose too great a challenge for many countries.

Late last month, international researchers under the ambit of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change sent a chilling warning to the world: climate change is affecting our health. More people than ever are vulnerable to heat exposure globally, and numbers are rising.

The report analyses 41 indicators tracking the link between climate change and health. And while the authors noted “a lot of variability year on year”, the evident trend suggests we should expect heat wave events to spike higher.

We’re starting to feel this already. This summer marked a record in many parts of the world, with much higher temperatures than most populations are used to.

The latest report estimates that 42 per cent of over-65s in Europe and 43 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean are already vulnerable to heat exposure; 38 per cent of this group are vulnerable in Africa and 34 per cent in Asia.

Dr Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet project, highlighted a recent study suggesting that 2018 heat waves across Europe were made twice as likely as a result of climate change.

“Assigning attribution for every single event is difficult, but it’s clear that these sorts of events are examples of what is likely to come if we don’t rapidly respond to climate change,” he said.

Small changes in temperature and rainfall will not only lower productivity and crop yields, it will impact health by helping to spread infectious diseases. For example, the capacity of the dengue virus to spread has increased by 7.8 per cent since the 1950s, the report found.

The seasonal capacity for the Aedes mosquito — the primary species spreading Zika, dengue and chikungunya — and its ability to spread has lengthened and strengthened, the report says.

2016 set a new record for dengue transmission, and the spread is expected to rise in step with average global temperatures.

Levels of global cholera bacteria are also worrying. From the 1980s to the 2010s, the US witnessed a 27 per cent increase in coastline areas suitable for Vibrio infections.

The report shows half of 478 global cities surveyed stated that their public health structure will be seriously compromised by climate change. The health threats are expected to overwhelm services and extreme weather events pose a direct threat to health services.

Global spending on climate adaptation for health is at 4.8 per cent — too little, the researchers say, noting that Europe and Southeast Asia are the biggest spenders.

In a 2015 assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UNFCCC, Malaysia was said to face numerous potential threats to health and development due to climate change. Among the futures foreseen by the assessment:

IF high emissions continue, mean annual temperature rises by about 4°C on average from 1990 to 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly, temperature rise is limited to about 1.1°C.

IF high emissions continue, and without large investments in adaptation, an annual average of 234,500 Malaysians are projected to be affected by flooding due to sea level rise between 2070 and 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly and there is a major scale up in protection (i.e. continued construction/raising of dikes) the annual affected population could be almost eliminated.

Adaptation alone will not offer sufficient protection, as sea level rise is a longterm process, with high emissions scenarios bringing increasing impacts well beyond the end of the century.

IF high emissions continue, heat-related deaths among the elderly (65+ years) are projected to increase to almost 45 deaths per 100,000 by 2080 compared to the estimated baseline of under one death per 100,000 annually between 1961 and 1990. A rapid reduction in emissions could limit heat-related deaths in the elderly to just over six deaths per 100,000 in 2080.

The WHO/UNFCCC assessment notes some opportunities for action. The country should continue refining its National Policy on Climate Change which incorporates health perspectives. Malaysia is implementing projects on health adaptation to climate change, building institutional and technical capacities to work on climate change and health, and has conducted a national assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for health.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

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Water is life, use it wisely, don’t waste it

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

MALAYSIA is a country rich in water resources. In 2016, it recorded 907 million cubic meters (m3 ) of annual rainfall. The average annual rainfall is quite high, between 2,000mm and 4,000mm a year. The abundant quantity of water resources allows us to sell water to neighbouring Singapore.

On providing water to consumers, 95 per cent of the population have access to water. The country’s water tariffs are also among the lowest in the world.

There is also no limit on the use of water. With the wealth of water resources, it seems impossible that we would face water shortages. But, unfortunately, we do.

Since the 1970s the country has faced several water crises — in 1977 and 1978 in Peninsular Malaysia’s northwest; 1982 and 1991 in Kedah and Perlis (the Pedu and Muda Dam), 1998 in Kedah, Penang and Kuala Lumpur (as an impact of the El Nino) and in 2002 drought which affected Perlis and caused a water shortage.

The water crises have led to water rationing and affected the life and wellbeing of many users. In 2014, when there was an unusually dry season, the water rationing lasted for months. In 2016, 85,000 people in Johor faced water rations due to low water levels in water treatment plants.

Malaysia also faces the problem of high non-revenue water (NRW). This is one of the main causes of water shortage. In 2016, the NRW ratio was at 35.2 per cent. Perlis recorded the highest at 60.7 per cent, while the other states that recorded more than 40 per cent were Sabah (52 per cent), Kelantan (49.4 per cent), Pahang (47.9 per cent) and Kedah (46.7 per cent).

The rates were extremely high compared to Japan (three per cent) or Singapore (five per cent). Mostly, the loss of water occur as a result of pipe leakage and water theft. Household and commercial water users can and should play an active role by reporting the problem to the authorities. Problems such pipe leakage or burst pipe could be resolved sooner if we reported the cases. But, are consumers aware of their roles? Do they make a report immediately, or are they just apathetic?

Consumers have a direct impact on water problems. For example, excessive water contributes to wastage.

Based on the Malaysia Water Industry Guide (2015), the average water consumption per person (water consumption per capita) is 211 litres per day in 2014.

Water consumption varies by state — the highest water consumption of 293 litres per capita per day is Penang and the lowest is Sabah (114 litres per capita per day). This is above the World Health Organisation recommended rate of 165 litres per capita per day.

Water consumption among Malaysians is indeed high. Why is this? Are we not aware of our abundant water resources that we do not appreciate what we have? Is the problem related to the low price of water? Yes, the price of water in Malaysia is among the lowest in the world.

Perhaps, that is why Malaysians take it for granted because they do not feel the pinch.

Our water resources are also threatened by pollution, which affect the quality and quantity of the water. If this condition is left unattended, the state of water resources cannot be maintained or sustained.

We have to protect our water resources and water-related ecosystems such as the forests, mountains, wetlands and rivers.

Water-related problems must be addressed soon, and for the long term to ensure the water’s availability and sustainability. Failing that, we would not be able to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 target, which is to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all.

Water conservation is our duty.

In Islam, water is a valuable resource and “abusing” it is against the principles of environmental conservation. The principles can be translated into the understanding that Allah created everything in this world which includes water.

Water is vital to all forms of life; the destruction of water resources would mean the destruction of other forms of life as well. To protect the life of other creatures, water must be conserved.

By Azrina Sobian.

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