To be or not to be-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
WEATHER forecast for tonight: dark. Okay, so the George Carlin quote is a no-brainer. Unless we have a full moon.
But even a full moon cannot remove darkness when storm clouds hide the sun or the moon. Otherwise, can we expect dry evenings or wet and dark nights?
I was expecting the full moon, or more sunlight. Last August, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) predicted last August that there will be more than 50-percent chance that El Niño will develop toward the end of the year 2012. The national weather station said that all the signs bear an ominous resemblance to the catastrophe that struck three years ago.
One potential recipe for meteorological disaster is when El Niño, the abnormal warming of eastern Pacific waters, interacts with the monsoon cycle, raising water vapor levels in the air and causing cyclones to behave more unpredictably.
Back in September 2009, a developing El Niño overlapped with the southwest monsoon that led to Tropical Storm "Ondoy" that wreaked havoc in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Weather misbehavior is what we are seeing so far. So far, I see no signs of El Niño. Not that I should be complaining. Rainfall patterns have become so erratic that weather predictions seem to be less science, and more guesswork. What perhaps Ilonggos would call "pinaglagpat."
Being involved with the National Greening Program here in Negros Occidental, I agreed with my DENR counterparts that it would be suicidal to plant seedlings during a drought.
Farmers would be hard-put to decide whether to plant now during what supposedly is still within the monsoon months, or heed Pagasa to avert crop losses.
Look at the different weather forecasts. Back in August, the World Meteorological Organization insisted there was only "a slight chance" that El Niño conditions might develop sometime during July to September.
But Australia's weather bureau said there were clear signs El Niño was developing in the Pacific, while its Japanese counterpart said the phenomenon was already underway.
"Slight chance" versus "clear signs" does not even come close. Many people like farmers or the fishing industry, even the students would be gambling with life. Would it be a missed opportunity not to plant, or to fish? Or would it be a crop loss in a weather lose-all game?
To rain or not to rain, that is the question. We are facing a dilemma worthy of a Hamlet who compared the pain of life, which he sees as inevitable, with the sea of troubles, the slings and arrows, the heartache, the thousand natural shocks and the fear of the uncertainty of death and of possible damnation of suicide.
Should we plant the seedlings now and risk a high mortality and a huge loss in their mortality and government investments on the plants? Will DENR blame the tree farmers for poor management of planting sites and schedules?
The truth is, we cannot really blame Pagasa for lousy weather forecasting. With climate change, worldwide we can predict the unpredictability of the weather.
Weather unpredictability is a threat to food production. As early as the 1970s, typhoons, floods, and droughts caused 82 percent of the total Philippine rice losses. Weather aberrations, climatic actuations such as El Niño, and the growing concern for their effects on agriculture have altered sowing dates, crop duration, crop yield, and the management practices adapted in rice production.
Will there be an El Niño? At this point, I wouldn't bet on my last buck on the Pagasa weather forecast. At least, what I saw during past weeks was a wet MassKara.
Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 24, 2012.