Climate change and tourism-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Saturday, August 11, 2012
A GROUP of USLS students were in our office last Wednesday. I thought they would just ask for statistics of visitors’ arrival. Instead they asked, “How is the tourism industry affected by global warming and climate change?” The question is simply phrased but it requires a complex answer.
Global warming and climate change are both phrases used to describe the changes to the earth’s climate that are caused by human activity. The earth climate can change as a result of natural processes just like what you have seen in the movies Ice Age, The Land Before Time and Happy Feet. However, the current period of climate change is widely accepted by scientists to be a result of human actions. These include the burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of our forest.
The fingerprints left behind by climate change could be the warmer temperature of ocean surface, the melting of the glaciers in the Alps and the Andes, the thinning of the sea ice in the Arctic, and also the melting of ice sheets and glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.
The warning signs of the kinds of impact are already happening now and we expect to have more of them in the future. The spread of the anopheles mosquitoes which are carriers of malaria and dengue fever is rampant in new regions. Spring comes very early. The Europeans have observed the early arrival of swallows and the tropical countries have noticed the bleaching of coral reefs caused by excessive heat. Droughts and forest fires become regular occurrences and all the nations of the world are experiencing hurricanes and flood.
Wildlife is also affected by the subtle changes in climate. One classic example is the reduction in the polar bear population in Hudson Bay, Canada. Even here in Silay, our popular batitis shell, bagtis fish, pantat and haluan are becoming extinct because of soil erosion, use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and the sugar mills dump their dirt that pollutes the river. Only a school of janitor fish could survive in a filthy environment. The water in the river after a sugar mill is class C, not suited for swimming. Most of the USLS students have not been to a river with class C water.
“What is really causing climate change?” Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, CFCs, nitrous oxides and ozone, into the earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere acts rather like a filter, allowing energy in the form of sunlight to reach our planet and then trapping some of the energy as it is given off again by the earth as infrared radiation.
This is the greenhouse effect and is a natural process of our atmosphere. However, by burning fossil fuels for energy and transport, and various industrial processes, we have significantly increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere for more than 200 years. With more gases able to absorb and trap heat, the greenhouse effect has become stronger, and now we have this enhanced greenhouse effect. In short, we are trapped in our atmosphere and we are gradually committing suicide.
I told the Lasallians of the Gaia Theory proposed by James Lovelock. He gives the idea that living and non-living parts of the earth interact with each other to regulate the environment. There is the warming of the atmosphere. Arctic ice begins to melt. Less sunlight is absorbed by dark surface. The ground is warmed and permafrost thaws. Dead vegetation in the soil begins to decompose releasing carbon dioxide and methane, which are greenhouse gases.
All these affect tourism because tourism is always dependent on what is best from nature. The college students grinned. I hope they learned from my simplified process. I know that what I am telling them is just a drop in the bucket. To understand further the topic, one must have a background on the biosphere, hydrological cycle, nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle and the role of the ocean in regulating temperature.
Wives are good in climate change. Husbands from the office would readily know if there is a kind of warming prepared by the wife. Get ready for a cyanide leak!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 11, 2012.