Peña: Good news and bad news at the start of 2018

GOOD news and bad news in the local and international environmental front greeted the start of the New Year. Hopefully, the good will outnumber the bad as days and weeks go by.

Good News: DENR said there was significant drop in air pollution levels recorded in Metro Manila during the New Year revelry as compared to the previous year. This is attributed to the implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 28 which regulates the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. During the first hour of January 1, all air-quality monitoring stations in Metro Manila registered lower levels of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 or particle less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and PM 10 or particle less than 10 micrometers in diameter, compared to last year.

Bad News: The United States and Canada are having a bitterly cold winter. In the US, more than 1,600 daily records for cold were tied or broken in the last week of December. In Canada, some places said to be colder than planet Mars. At the start of 2018, low temperatures were forecasted to linger across much of the East Coast, Midwest and South. The freezing weather is due to an unstable Polar Vortex which sent cold arctic wind to these countries. Polar vortex is a gigantic circular weather pattern around the North Pole which keeps super cold air locked up in the Arctic. Often during winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the polar vortex will become less stable and expand.

Good News: For the first time, NASA scientists have shown through direct satellite observations of the ozone hole that levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, resulting in less ozone depletion. Measurements show that the decline in chlorine, resulting from an international ban on chlorine-containing manmade chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), has resulted in about 20 percent less ozone depletion during the Antarctic winter than there was in 2005 — the first year that measurements of chlorine and ozone during the Antarctic winter were made by NASA’s Aura satellite. The study was published last January 4. It will be recalled that two years after the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in 1985, nations of the world signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which regulated ozone-depleting compounds. Later amendments to the Montreal Protocol completely phased out production of CFCs. The Philippines is a signatory to this international agreement.

Bad news: It was officially announced that last year was the second hottest year on record worldwide, behind 2016. According to a European Union climate monitoring program, global temperatures averaged 14.7 degrees Celsius (58.46°F), 1.2 degrees C (2.2°F) above pre-industrial times. The announcement comes from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), a research project by the European Union to provide past and current climate data to help inform EU climate policies. C3S reported that last year was just 0.1 degrees C cooler than 2016, and 0.5 degrees C warmer than the 1981-2010 period. Note that in spite of the warming climate, a very cold winter is being experienced by Canada and the United States.

This 2018, let’s do our share in making Planet Earth a better place to live in. More good news please!
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