Nature’s enfant terrible

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By Erma M. Cuizon

Sun.Star Essay

Saturday, May 10, 2014


THE El Niño is a periodic warming in the Pacific Ocean affecting sea and land. Weather specialists say El Niño is a disturbance of the ocean atmosphere system and this normally happens in the tropical Pacific. In reaction to this condition could be the storms in La Niña.

After 2010, it's affecting the Philippines again beginning June this year. June is a rainy season but the El Niño spell would roast with wet days between. There could be quick rain or wetness but they will be erratic during the El Niño spell.

I don't understand much of weather talk like what causes the seasons to come. The coolness or heat of the water or the wind makes a difference between one season and the other.

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After looking up El Niño in the Internet, I realized that changes in nature, like in the climate, are part of the universe, as it is a huge and powerful creation whose life in total affects the next seasons. This, even while man's carelessness with nature causes the climate to derail.
I can't quite picture it, which is all about winds and water and land counter-acting in seasons or the short of it, but affecting the next rainfall or heat spell.

El Niño is here in as early as June, Pagasa warns. It could render the areas in South America, Australia and the Philippines wanting of cold water which has nutrients in them to nurture fishes, even sea birds, without which they die for lack of food.

An Australian government forecaster said, “El Niño can bake Asia, while bringing wetter-than-usual weather to parts of South America and the US, challenging farmers from Indonesia to Brazil with too little rain or too much.”

Imagine the wind blowing from east to west in the Pacific. The strength of nature shows water piling up in the western part. This while the eastern part of colder water is pushed up from below to replace the water pushed west.

The warm water makes the winds weaker, the ocean warmer as it affects the winds in turn. It was El Niño that turned down the blast of hurricanes expected in 2009.

El Niño, which stays normally for about a year, occurs in the world every two to seven years, the longest warming having been about five years. And the spell gets stronger through the years, it was only during the Ice Age that it was weaker in strength of heat.

In the heat spell, the rainy season is delayed or cut while it could rain heavily but in an unnaturally short time. The year 1998 was the warmest in this century.

In the 2010 El Niño spell, as reported by the Dept. of Agriculture, crops planted in 10,533 hectares of fields did not recover, only crops in 147,633 hectares survived. But a total of 158,166 hectares of agricultural land was affected by the last El Niño, the country losing P2.84 billion.

The 2010 dry spell affected northern Luzon and part of Central Visayas in late December. The government declared a state of calamity in the affected areas.

Among the concerns in the excessive warming is the drought and power cuts—the clean water going filthy, leading to health problems. The reduction of fish population for lack of enough nutrients in cool water means poor productivity. If there’s reduction in fish, for one, there is lack of fish to sell, there is less money to earn. The fishing industry in developing countries suffers in the killing heat and in the lack of enough nutrients in cool water.

The government has blown the whistle on El Niño's coming, with the temperature rush becoming stronger through the years. The simple citizen could help conserve water in the warming. And pray real hard. (ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 11, 2014.

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