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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

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Climate change – Philstar.com

We have been hearing a lot about climate change being blamed for more killer typhoons and rising sea level. It seems, our planet Earth is becoming warmer and may eventually become too warm for humans to survive.

Much of the blame is on the use of fossil fuels, petroleum and coal, that powered the growth of the industrial economies. Global fossil fuel emissions will probably reach record highs this year and not show signs of declining.

Countries like ours are responsible for only a tiny bit of the global warming gasses spewed into the atmosphere, but suffer the consequences most.

An international conference is regularly held to talk about how to deal with global warming. The rich industrial economies have promised to help Third World countries cope with the impact of climate change. But it has been mostly talk since the first climate change agreement was signed in Paris.

The Paris agreement is supposed to be a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015 and entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016.

The agreement was supposed to limit global warming to below two degrees, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Countries must aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions to achieve a climate neutral world by 2050.

The talking continues. This time the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is ongoing in Sharm El Sheikh, a resort town in Egypt. Hopefully, something happens to help us cope.

We just had a few strong typhoons that destroyed agricultural produce, infrastructure, and killed a number of people. The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to climate change, according to a 2017 world risk report. We suspected as much out of experience.

Climate change is making typhoons wetter, windier, and more intense.  As the storms travel across warm oceans, they pull in more water vapor and heat. That means stronger wind, heavier rainfall, and more flooding when the storms hit land.

There is also evidence that climate change is causing storms to travel more slowly, meaning they can dump more water in one place. Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and Typhoon Paeng last month, for example.

The impact of climate change in the Philippines are immense, including: annual losses in GDP, changes in rainfall patterns and distribution, droughts, threats to biodiversity and food security, sea level rise, public health risks, and endangerment of vulnerable groups.

No wonder Congress passed Republic Act 9729, which created a Climate Change Commission. It now has a database known as the National Integrated Climate Change Database Information and Exchange System (NICCDIES) that tells us how badly we are affected.

In the meantime, there is this assessment report that says climate change will create new poor people between now and 2100, as if we need to have more. Poverty breeds disaster vulnerability, after all.

There will be major changes in rainfall patterns and distribution. Extreme rainfall is expected to increase with global warming by about now.

We will also have more intense periods of droughts. Global warming exacerbates the effects of El Niño, the most recent of which was experienced in the country from 2015 to 2016.

There will also be threats to natural ecosystems. There will be loss of coral. The 2016 Low Carbon Monitor Report foresees that 98 percent of coral reefs in Southeast Asia will die by 2050, practically an extinction by the end of the century if current global warming trends continue.

By 2051 to 2060, the maximum fish catch potential of Philippine seas will decrease by as much as 50 percent compared to 2001-2010 levels. Just now, it was announced we are importing 25,000 metric tons of frozen fish, including galunggong.

The Department of Agriculture estimated that 413,456 farmers have been directly affected by El Niño-associated droughts and dry spells.

Our rice yields will decline. An analysis of temperature trends and irrigated field experiments at the International Rice Research Institute shows that grain yield decreased by at least 10 percent for each 1°C increase in growing-season minimum temperature in the dry season.

A decline in mango production by four percent was reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) this year.

Climate change also causes sea level to rise. Observed sea level rise is remarkably highest at 60 centimeters in the Philippines, about three times that of the global average of 19 centimeters.

This puts at risk 60 percent of LGUs covering 64 coastal provinces, 822 coastal municipalities, 25 major coastal cities, and an estimated 13.6 million Filipinos that will need relocation.

Water scarcity is already one of our major problems arising from rapid urbanization. Climate change is pushing it to crisis level. A study by the World Resources Institute predicts that the Philippines will experience a ‘high’ degree of water shortage by the year 2040.

The country ranked 57th as the most water stressed country in 2040 out of 167 countries. The sector that will bear the brunt of water shortage by that year is agriculture, a major component of the country’s economy and which currently employs most of the country’s workforce.

Of course, Metro Manila’s 20 million plus population is very vulnerable to a water shortage. It is over 90 percent dependent on Angat Dam and previous droughts caused  the dam’s water to go near critical level.

Where do we go from here? Our DENR Secretary is a world class expert on climate change. If she is given proper political support, she should be able to do much to contain the abuses of our environment from politicians and other vested interests.

But a big problem is energy. We are now largely dependent on coal. We need a credible program that shifts our dependence from coal to renewable energy sources.

Problem is financing the transition to clean energy. The World Economic Forum observed that developing countries need assistance to fund technology transfer to enable rapid, wide-scale development and deployment of renewable energy infrastructure.

So far, it is still all talk… our poor grandchildren!

Boo Chanco’s email address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco. Follow me on twitter @boochanco.

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