Challenges for 2014 and beyond (Second of a series)

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By Dr. Bob Ocio

Isyo ug Servicio

Saturday, January 4, 2014


E. Understanding Climate Change – “General Population 20 years behind” – Truth Out

“The flats on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, are only inches above sea level. This year, sea level rise could have taken these flats, forever, in time frames that matter. We are in the midst of an era of frightening contradictions, when it comes to public understandings of climate change. While climate changes are occurring more quickly than scientists have ever predicted, most people’s knowledge of these realities remains hazy and clouded by political overtones. Because of both the counter-intuitive nature of climate change and the massive misinformation campaigns created by the fossil fuel industry, the general population is 20 years behind most climate scientists when it comes to the straightforward fact of “believing in” climate change. This is an ominous statistic: Now that scientists are predicting that even worse impacts than previously understood will happen significantly sooner, a rapid global response will be necessary for any attempt to stave them off. We are likely closer to irreversible dangerous climate change - if it has not begun already - and to take action.”

F. “Climate change, illegal logging and mining a lethal combination”

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Climate Change and our destructive Practices and Policies means more Yolandas, Sendongs and more homeless, hungry and jobless Filipinos. It will wipe out and render all economic forecasts of a positive GDP posted for business and economic growth meaningless for the affected majority. It will wipe out savings and resources from the government.

The world’s forests have been declining at an alarming rate, especially over the past fifty years or so, due to industrial logging, conversion to plantations and agriculture.

Forest loss accounts for 12-15 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as the entire transport sector. It is now widely accepted that the battle against climate change cannot be won unless global deforestation is halted. Yet, our present forest cover left could only be less than seven percent. So where do we go from here??

Gerry O. Caine wrote in Dec. 2012, “Questions are again being asked of how environmental degradation contributed to the human and financial cost of Typhoon Bopha (or Pablo, as it was known in the Philippines).

With the toll continuing to climb well beyond 1,000 and another 841 still missing, and damages are being put in excess of US$173 million, the figures are sadly unsurprising.

Only the year before Tropical Storm Sendong brought landslides and flash floods that washed away thousands of homes and killed over 1,200 people across Northern Mindanao, causing more than P1.3 billion (US$31 million) in agriculture and property damage.

In both cases, as with the devastation of the February 2006 landslides in the Philippine province of Southern Leyte that killed 1,800 people, the finger has been pointed at illegal logging and mining operations as contributing to the disasters.

In spite of President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 23 entitled “Declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the national and residual forests and creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force” issued in 2011, land exploitation has continued. Yet, we had already Ondoy, Sendong and Yolanda.

G. Drilling in the Arctic–The key arguments put forward by Greenpeace

Greenpeace says oil exploration in the Arctic is being assisted by melting ice. The fragile arctic is under threat from both climate change and oil drilling. As climate change melts the Arctic ice, oil companies are moving in to extract more of the fossil fuels that caused the melt in the first place. However, above the Arctic Circle, freezing temperatures, a narrow drilling window and a remote location mean that an oil spill would be almost impossible to deal with. It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. Greenpeace is working to halt climate change and stop this new oil rush at the top of the world.”

Greenpeace identifies two distinct threats posed by drilling in the Arctic. One is the immediate threat of an oil spill. Greenpeace claims oil companies do not have appropriate risk mitigation against this kind of accident.

The indirect threat to the Arctic ecosystem posed by climate change and the fossil fuel industry’s contribution to carbon emissions is the underpinning motivation for Greenpeace’s actions. Diminishing Arctic sea ice poses a direct threat to the Arctic’s biodiversity and eventually to the planet, say Greenpeace.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 05, 2014.

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