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Environment & Nature

Report urges intensified efforts to cut carbon emission in Southeast Asia

A new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report raised urgency for fast-tracking Southeast Asia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction, warning limited impacts of climate change arising from these discharges can reach some 11 percent of this region’s Gross Domestic Product by 2100. Launched Monday (Jan. 11) in Metro Manila, the report ‘Southeast Asia and the Economics of Global Climate Stabilization’ highlights need to mitigate GHGs as it cites the region as among areas most vulnerable to climate change due to geographic, demographic, economic, and other conditions prevailing there. The report also said Southeast Asia registered — at nearly five percent annually between 1990 and 2010 — the fastest relative growth in emission of carbon dioxide, one of the climate change-driving GHGs. “It finds that mitigation is in the region’s economic interest,” ADB Knowledge Management …

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Powerful replacement in works for climate-modeling computer

CHEYENNE, Wyoming – One of the most powerful computers in the world dedicated to climate change, weather and other earth science research will be replaced in 2017 by an even faster machine, officials announced Monday. The Yellowstone supercomputer in Wyoming currently ranks among the 60 fastest in the world. The new supercomputer, to be named Cheyenne, will be at least 2 1/2 times more powerful, the National Center for Atmospheric Research said. Capable of 5.3 quadrillion calculations, or petaflops, per second, Cheyenne will be some 100,000 times faster than a typical home computer. The speed provides unprecedented detail in climate-change predictions, including regional modeling of effects, the center said. A more powerful computer will allow researchers to see results in higher resolution, like a higher density of pixels sharpens images on a television …

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Letters as seen from outer space

It's not only the Great Wall of  China, nor the Plains of Nazca in Southern Peru, that's visible from the heavens. Other places around the planet are also visible, albeit in a different form or shape. When a NASA writer started on an attempt, a few years ago, to locate all letters from the English alphabet on Earth using only NASA satellite and astronaut photography, who knew it would lead to such a breathtaking collection of images. Read on to see all 26 letters as compiled by the MSN news team.

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PAL adopts Philippine eaglet

Philippine Airlines (PAL) is adopting a one-month-old Philippine eaglet. Known as Chick 26, the eaglet hatched on December 7, 2015 at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City. To celebrate the eaglet’s first month, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) is partnering with PAL to be Chick 26’s adopter for the next six years. PAL is donating one million Mabuhay Miles to support the foundation’s mission of spreading awareness to save the Philippine Eagle and protect its forest habitat. As adopter of Chick 26, PAL was given the naming rights for the month-old eaglet. The flag carrier will launch a name search among PAL employees. PEF curator Anna Mae Sumaya said Chick 26 is in good health, is eagerly feeding and always wants more of its ration. “We only give food quantities appropriate for the …

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Heatwaves, drought may curb global power output – study

Paris – Thousands of power plants worldwide face sharp reductions in electricity output by mid-century due to more frequent heatwaves and drought driven by global warming, according to a study published Monday. “We need to be concerned as electricity will become more expensive and less reliable in the future due to climate change,” co-author Keywan Riahi of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria told AFP. If warming continues unchecked, higher temperatures and water shortages could, by 2050, cut capacity in hydro-electric plants by nearly four percent, and in thermoelectric plants — powered by fossil fuels, nuclear power or biomass — by 12 percent. Even if the target embraced at the Paris climate summit in December is met — limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius compared to …

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Bad air plagued Beijing for nearly half of 2015 – report

Beijing – Beijingers spent nearly half of 2015 breathing air that did not meet national standards, Chinese media reported Tuesday, as the city struggles to address a smog problem that has provoked widespread public anger. The Chinese capital faced 179 polluted days last year, with 46 of them considered heavily polluted, according to the Global Times, citing figures from the city’s environmental protection bureau. Levels of PM2.5 – harmful microscopic particles that penetrate deep into the lungs — averaged 80.6 micrograms per cubic meter over the year, the newspaper said, more than eight times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended maximum annual average exposure of 10. The figures represented a 6.2 percent decrease year-on-year, but still left citizens breathing air that was 1.3 times the country’s own standard, which is not as strict …

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Indonesia punishes firms over deadly forest fires

Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesia is punishing more than 20 companies in an unprecedented move for starting deadly forest fires that killed 19 people, a government official said. Three companies have been shut down permanently after having their licenses revoked over their role in the blazes that choked vast expanses of Southeast Asia with acrid haze and cost Indonesia $16 billion. It is the first time the government has revoked company licenses over forest fires, an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. The environment ministry also froze the operations of 14 companies and said they face closure if they do not meet the government’s demands over fire prevention. Several other companies have been given a strong warning and will be put under close supervision. “We have sanctioned 23 companies in total, ranging from administrative sanctions …

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Never rains but it pours for guano-hit Rome

Rome – Weekend rain washed away the dangerous pollution that has afflicted Rome in recent weeks but left city authorities with a new headache: Roads and pavements made treacherous by bird droppings. The downpours that cleaned up the air and brought levels of fine particles back down below a World Health Organization-recommended threshold also cleansed the city’s trees of several weeks worth of guano deposited by millions of migratory starlings. The result, in combination with rotting leaves, was a slippery, slimy fungal mush that forced city authorities to close roads on the banks of the Tiber for most of Saturday while refuse workers attempted to hose the streets back into a safe state. Starlings swarming above Rome’s historic buildings are one of the iconic sights of the capital, but dealing with their excrement …

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Have you ever seen a pink hippo?

A rare pink hippo was spotted swimming with its friends at Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya recently, reported Daily Mail. The pink color is caused by leucism, a partial loss of pigmentation. Wild animals with leucism often do not survive past adulthood, because they are more visible to predators and more at risk of sunburn. But this pink one happens to be a hippo. Luckily for it, hippos are big enough to defend against their predators and can use their sweat as sun screen. A French couple Laurent and Dominque Renaud captured this one in a series of photos. Renaud said: “We knew the pink hippo was in a group of hippos in a bend of the river—people talked about it, but we were never sure whether it was real or a …

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Why the real King Kong became extinct

The largest ape to roam Earth died out 100,000 years ago because it failed to tuck into savannah grass after climate change hit its preferred diet of forest fruit, scientists suggest. Gigantopithecus -- the closest Nature ever came to producing a real King Kong -- weighed five times as much as an adult man and probably stood three metres (nine feet) tall, according to sketchy estimates. In its heyday a million years ago, it inhabited semi-tropical forests in southern China and mainland Southeast Asia. Until now, though, almost nothing was known about the giant's anatomical shape or habits. The only fossil records are four partial lower jaws, and perhaps a thousand teeth -- the first of which turned up in the 1930s in Hong Kong apothecaries where they were sold as "dragon's teeth." These meagre …

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