Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can we grow more food on less land? We’ll have to, a new study finds

08 DECEMBER, 2018

TODAY

WASHINGTON — If the world hopes to make meaningful progress on climate change, it won’t be enough for cars and factories to get cleaner. Our cows and wheat fields will have to become radically more efficient, too.

That’s the basic conclusion of a sweeping new study issued Wednesday (Dec 5) by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group.

The report warns that the world’s agricultural system will need drastic changes in the next few decades in order to feed billions more people without triggering a climate catastrophe.

The challenge is daunting: Agriculture already occupies roughly 40 per cent of the world’s vegetated land and is responsible for about a quarter of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.

But with the global population expected to grow from 7.2 billion people today to nearly 10 billion by 2050, and with many millions of people eating more meat as incomes rise, that environmental impact is on pace to expand dramatically.

News analysis: A ‘new Malaysia’ but same old racial, religious divide

By Faris Mokhtar in Kuala Lumpur

11 December, 2018


KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, which swept into power in May through a significant swing in the Malay vote, should be under no illusion that the Malay voters bought into its progressive ideology, analysts told TODAY.

If there were ever any doubt, the 50,000-strong turnout for last weekend's rally at the historic Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) sent a loud and clear message: Malay rights and Islam’s status as the national religion must remain enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

As it becomes increasingly clear that the groundswell of support for PH during the elections had largely stemmed from voter dissatisfaction with corruption in the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the opposition United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) are now ready to pounce and play the race and religion cards to win over the hearts and minds of the majority Malay population, the analysts said.

[Ok. So BN's corruption not an issue anymore?]

Tough to get ‘balance right’ when pricing HDB flats in central areas: Lawrence Wong

TODAY file photo

By JANICE LIM


It is difficult to get the “balance right” when it comes to pricing public housing flats, particularly for those located close to the city centre, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.



07 MARCH, 2019


SINGAPORE — It is difficult to get the “balance right” when it comes to pricing public housing flats, particularly for those located close to the city centre, as the Government has to weigh between pricing them to market value and keeping housing affordable, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Speaking during his ministry’s Budget debate on Thursday (March 7), Mr Wong was responding to a concern raised by Nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Walter Theseira about social stratification in housing estates.

Associate Professor Theseira, a labour economist with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, had pointed to the widening price disparities between Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats located close to the city centre and those that were not.

Acknowledging the challenges that the Ministry of National Development (MND) faces, Mr Wong said: “It’s difficult to get this balance right”

“If you price it to market, then only the very well-off can afford. If you want to make it affordable, the only way is through a big discount to the BTO (Build-to-Order) price.”

New CPF rules for purchase of older flats to kick in by May

TODAY file photo
By WONG PEI TING

TODAY


When National Development Minister Lawrence Wong first signalled in August last year that CPF rules will be tweaked for the purchase of older flats, analysts told TODAY the move could help reassure flat owners that their ageing properties still held value.


07 MARCH, 2019
[Note date]


SINGAPORE — Homebuyers looking to purchase older flats from May onwards will be able to benefit from new Central Provident Fund (CPF) rules, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Thursday (March 7).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Singapore's Food Security "30 by 30" plan

[Two articles on the state of SG's urban farming endeavours.

See also the 2015 post on this.]

Singapore’s ‘30 by 30’ food production target: Is it feasible?

By Paul Teng and Jose Montesclaros

 09 April, 2019



The recent announcements in Parliament to raise Singapore’s food self-production level from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent of total food needs by 2030, the “30 by 30” strategy, have raised some pertinent questions on capacity, investment and exportability.

Singapore’s huge dependency — 90 per cent — on imports for its food supply puts it at the mercy of external forces in the exporting countries, most of which are beyond the Republic’s control.

So it is laudable and indeed even overdue, that the government would want to reduce the country’s vulnerability and achieve greater stability in its supply of food as part of food security.

Climate change: Yes, your individual action does make a difference

By Steve Westlake

16 April, 2019

What can we do in the face of the climate emergency? Many say we should drive less, fly less, eat less meat. But others argue that personal actions like this are a pointless drop in the ocean when set against the huge systemic changes that are required to prevent devastating global warming.

It’s a debate that has been raging for decades. Clearly, in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, a single person’s contribution is basically irrelevant (much like a single vote in an election).

But my research, first in my masters and now as part of my PhD, has found that doing something bold like giving up flying can have a wider knock-on effect by influencing others and shifting what’s viewed as “normal”.

Friday, April 12, 2019

China’s state pension fund to run dry by 2035 due to shrinking workforce: Study


The urban worker pension fund, the backbone of the country’s state pension system,
held a reserve of 4.8 trillion yuan (US$714 billion) at the end of 2018.
It is predicted to peak at 7 trillion yuan in 2027, then drop steadily to zero by 2035.
12 April, 2019

TODAY


HONG KONG — China’s main state pension fund will run out of money by 2035 due to a decline in the available work force, according to new research.

The urban worker pension fund, the backbone of the country’s state pension system, held a reserve of 4.8 trillion yuan (S$968 billion) at the end of 2018. It is predicted to peak at 7 trillion yuan in 2027, then drop steadily to zero by 2035, a report by the World Social Security Centre at the government-supported Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has said.

And the gap between contributions and outlays could be as high as 11 trillion yuan by 2050, with each retired citizen supported by only one worker, down from the current level of two, the government think tank calculated.