2009, a year of climate change awakening
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
The year 2009 finally came to an end and I would say that numerous natural events during the past year have transpired that served as a wakeup call to many of us about the impact of climate change. The year started with some areas of the Philippines, especially in the highlands of Luzon, having experienced a much lower temperature than normal. On the other hand, last summer was too warm but surprisingly some weather disturbances visited us between days during the period.
During the year, typhoons have lashed out the country, one after the other, and brought tremendous damages to lives and property, and we have witnessed probably the worst ever flooding in Metro Manila that spared no one, old and young, rich and poor, alike.
These catastrophic events, according to experts, were just a few of the many impacts of climate change and the worst has yet to come unless immediate and radical measures shall be implemented, particularly in reducing the carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
The coping mechanisms of the natural environment to absorb emissions of countries around the globe have already deteriorated.
Much of the emissions resulting from today’s lifestyles have already accumulated in the atmosphere and destroyed the ozone layer. The resulting effect of the ozone’s destruction is the changes in the climatic patterns of the different regions of the world. As such, we are experiencing and shall continue to witness extreme weather conditions the whole year round. The world’s temperature keeps increasing annually and this may result in the rapid melting of the ice in snow covered regions and will also increase the sea water level in many areas. The Philippines is one known country for its vulnerability to climate change. This is especially so that the remaining natural forests, which help mitigate the impacts of natural calamities, have already been destroyed. Moreover, the island ecosystems character of the Philippines makes our geographic feature more vulnerable to climate change that would ultimately affect the seasonal calendar pattern for agriculture and fishery production.
It is also unfortunate that most of the urban development did not anticipate the impacts of climate change, making most of major urban centers in the country even more susceptible to heavy flooding. Some developments also affected the natural landscape and even natural water channels have been altered tremendously. In some other countries, there are already frequent occurrences of snow storms and in recent years the temperature during summer in temperate countries is also increasing. In spite of the reality of the climate change phenomenon, world leaders, in the recently concluded Copenhagen Climate Change Conference of the United Nations, did not come out with a binding international treaty that would require developed and industrialized nations to reduce carbon emissions. Studies show that these countries account the largest carbon emission, like the United States of America, China and European Countries, to name a few. But it is ridiculous that the main culprits of climate change are likewise the proponents for the non-binding Copenhagen Accord with the US at the center stage. These developed nations also use up most the world’s natural resources.
While climate change is a global concern, it is necessary that local actions have to be developed and implemented. Since this is a reality that we have to contend with, it is therefore necessary that adaptive measures shall be considered from our values, technologies, lifestyles and even understanding of the complexity of the issue. One important measure that we can pursue is the strict protection of the remaining natural forest and rehabilitating the denuded forestlands. We also need to explore more renewable energy whose development does not incur environmental destruction. We need to reduce unnecessary consumption and as much as possible avoid using non-degradable materials. There are just too many things that we can do as an individual and as a community to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
This article also appeared at the Visayan Daily Star, 28 December 2009 issue, Bacolod City*
Photos in this article are courtesy of the Provincial Environment Management Office, Province of Negros Occidental*
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