DURING the MOU signing for the UN project, MDGF 1656: Strengthening the Philippines' Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change on January 25, Grace Bengwayan, BSU's Board Secretary entered the Conference Hall complaining that it's warm.

As she sat beside me, I gaily replied, "Climate Change?" instead of the usual polite chuckle, she told me, "It's becoming a cliché."

That took me to my senses, as an information officer in an institution where issues such as climate change are discussed in a highly technical manner, it is often so hard to catch up in only one sitting. Others would make lighter moments out of the topic and if someone would sneeze or have arthritis because of the cold weather, they would casually say "Climate Change!"

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Yet climate change is something very urgent that everyone should know about it and should try to contribute to its mitigation even in the smallest ways.

Its as if Mr. Oliver Abrenilla of the Food and Agriculture Organization read our minds that he called one of his presentations during the briefing, "Climate Change 101."

He presented the definition of Climate Change from different sectors.

According to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate change is "a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or change in precipitation, temperature and wind, persisting typically decades or longer."

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defined climate change as "change in the climate attributed directly or indirectly to human activities, in addition to natural climate variability observed, over a comparable time periods."

The definitions still sounded fuzzy to me and caused a little discomfort, so it was to other people that according to Mr. Abrenilla, they dismissed the existence of climate change. But evidences of climate change are the increase of global average temperature, mean sea level and the decline of snow cover by 10 percent since the late 1960s resulting to the increased frequency of extreme weather events.

How can this be? A flyer from the ENR Capacity and Operations Enhancement (ENR-Core) Programme of the DENR and UNDP distributed during the MOU signing explained how climate change and global warming are related.

"Greenhouse Gases o GHGs ay nakapalibot sa mundo na parang kumot. Pinapanatili ng mga ito ang katamtamang temperature sa mundo, kung wala ito magiging yelo ang lahat. Bahagi ng init ng araw ay bumabalik sa kalawakan o atmosphere."

"Dahil sa gawain ng tao, tumataas ang antas ng CHGs na mula sa mga produktong petrolyong langis, gaas at coal na ginagamit sa sasakyan, makinarya at kuryente. Dagdag pa dito ang labis na pagputol ng puno sa kagubatan, tambak ng basura at iba pa."

"Sa pagtaas ng konsentrasyon ng GHGs sa kalawakan, kumakapal ang kumot ng GHGs kaya't sumosobra rin ang init na nililikom nito. Ito ang pagtindi ng init ng mundo o global warming. Sa pangkalahatan, ang temperatura ay may kinalaman sa pag-init o paglamig ng ating kapaligiran, pagbago-bago ng panahon, pagbago ng lakas ng dating ng pag-ulan at pagtaas ng tubig sa karagatan. Ang mga ito ay may kinalaman sa pagbabago ng klima o climate change."

Knowing all these facts, why should we try to decrease the production of greenhouse gases by planting trees, managing our waste properly and by minimizing the use of motor vehicles?

Because if we don't, as presented by Mr. Abrenilla, there will be about 2.5% to 10% decrease in crop yield to be expected in the 2020s and 5% to 30% in the 2050s which will cause about 49 million people to go hungry in South East Asia alone.

On top of that there will be loss of lives and of coastal ecosystems due to sea level rise and flooding. There will also be the increase in the toxicity of cholera in south Asia.

The Enhanced Climate Change Adaptation Capacity of Communities in Contigous Fragile Ecosystems in the Cordilleras Project is under the MDG-F 1656: Strengthening the Philippines' Institutional Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change of the Food and Agriculture Organization being implemented by the Department of Agriculture.

The Benguet State University is a collaborating agency of the project along with the LGU Benguet, LGU Ifugao and the Ifugao State University.