The price of convenience

Scientists forecast effects of climate change and its severe impact on developing countries like PH
The shift in the climate can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change. In the Philippines, increases in temperature have been observed, as well as changes in rainfall patterns. All areas of the country get warmer as mean temperatures are expected to rise by 0.9 °C  to 1.1 °C in 2020 and by 1.8 °C  to 2.2 °C in 2050.
The shift in the climate can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change. In the Philippines, increases in temperature have been observed, as well as changes in rainfall patterns. All areas of the country get warmer as mean temperatures are expected to rise by 0.9 °C to 1.1 °C in 2020 and by 1.8 °C to 2.2 °C in 2050.Ralph Llemit/SunStar Photo

ARE we currently paying the price of convenience?

This has been what some scientists and experts have been stressing as the entire planet continues to experience an unusual pattern of weather. And the Philippines is not spared from it.

According to the United Nations (UN), the phenomenon is called climate change, which refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns.

The shift in the climate can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the most recent scientific assessments have confirmed the warming of the weather system since the mid-20th century.

Pagasa said this is due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and land use change.

Currently, warming has increasingly posed quite considerable challenges to man and the environment and will continue to be in the future. Some autonomous adaptation is taking place, but more proactive adaptation planning is needed in order to ensure sustainable development.

Due to climate concerns, the UN established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body that evaluates the risks of climate change and provides objective information to governments and various communities such as the academe, research organizations, private sector, etc.

In 2007, the IPCC made its strongest statement yet on climate change in its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), when it concluded that the warming of the weather system is unequivocal and that most of the warming during the last 50 years or so is due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities. It is also very likely that changes in the global climate system will continue.

Provincial Government of Davao de Oro

Scenarios

Research showed that there has been a 0.74 degrees Celsius (°C) increase in global mean temperature during the last 150 years compared with the 1961-1990 global average temperature. It is the steep increase in temperature since the mid-20th century that is causing worldwide concern, particularly the vulnerability of poor developing countries, like the Philippines, to the adverse impacts of even incremental changes in temperatures.

The IPCC AR4 further states that the substantial body of evidence that supports the recent global warming includes rising surface temperature, sea level rise, and decrease in snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

Experts also noted changes in extreme events globally and these include widespread changes in extreme temperatures; cold days, cold nights and frost becoming less frequent; hot days, hot nights and heat waves becoming more frequent; and observational evidence for an increase of intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic since about 1970, correlated with increases of tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs). However, there are differences in some parts of the planet.

In some Southeast Asia countries, including the Philippines, temperature increases have been observed although magnitude varies from one country to another. There have also been observed changes in rainfall patterns, characteristically defined by changes in monsoon performance.

According to a 2001 research by MJ Manton, there has been a spatial coherence in the increase of hot days, based on the trends of extreme daily events, including temperatures and rainfall, in the Asia Pacific region. Based on the trend, there has been an increase in hot days, warm nights, and heat waves, and a decrease in cold days, cold nights, and frost; although, there is no definite direction of rainfall change across the entire region.

PH not spared

Just like some parts of the world, the Philippines is at risk of suffering the dire consequences of climate change.

Pagasa reported that the country has also exhibited increasing temperatures. In the country’s weather bureau study, during the period 1951 to 2010, there had been an increase of 0.648 °C or an average of 0.0108 °C per year.

During the last 60 years, maximum and minimum temperatures are seen to have increased by 0.36 ºC and 1.0°C, respectively.

The agency added that based on the analysis of trends of tropical cyclone occurrence or passage within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), it showed that an average of 20 tropical cyclones form and/or cross the PAR per year. The trend shows a high variability over the decades but no indication of an increase in frequency. However, there is a very slight increase in the number of tropical cyclones with maximum sustained winds of greater than 150 kilometers per hour (kph) and above (typhoon category) being exhibited during the El NiÑo phenomenon.

Moreover, the analysis of tropical cyclone passage over the three main islands (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), the 30-year running means show that there has been a slight increase in the Visayas during the 1971 to 2000 period as compared with the 1951 to 1980 and 1960-1990 periods.

The trends of increases or decreases in extreme daily rainfall are not statistically significant; although, there have been changes.

In terms of the summer season, all areas of the country will get warmer as mean temperatures are expected to rise by 0.9 °C  to 1.1 °C in 2020 and by 1.8 °C  to 2.2 °C in 2050. Likewise, all seasonal mean temperatures will also have increases in these time slices, and these increases during the four seasons are quite consistent in all parts of the country. The largest temperature increase is projected during the summer (MAM) season.

Generally, there is a reduction in rainfall in most parts of the country during the summer (MAM) season. However, rainfall increase is likely during the southwest monsoon (JJA) season until the transition (SON) season in most areas of Luzon and Visayas, and also, during the northeast monsoon (DJF) season, particularly, in provinces/areas characterized as Type II climate in 2020 and 2050. There is, however, a generally decreasing trend in rainfall in Mindanao, especially by 2050. 

Ramcez Villegas/SunStar File Photo

There are varied trends in the magnitude and direction of the rainfall changes, both in 2020 and 2050. What the projections clearly indicate is the likely increase in the performance of the southwest and the northeast monsoons in the provinces exposed to these climate controls when they prevail over the country. Moreover, the usually wet seasons become wetter with the usually dry seasons becoming drier; and these could lead to more occurrences of floods and dry spells/droughts, respectively.

Hot temperatures will continue to become more frequent in the future. The number of days with maximum temperature exceeding 35 °C (following value used by other countries in the Asia Pacific region in extreme events analysis) is increasing in 2020 and 2050.

Heavy daily rainfall will continue to become more frequent, extreme rainfall is projected to increase in Luzon and Visayas only, but the number of dry days is expected to increase in all parts of the country in 2020 and 2050. Heavy daily rainfall will continue to become more frequent, extreme rainfall is projected to increase in Luzon and Visayas only, but the number of dry days is expected to increase in all parts of the country in 2020 and 2050. 

Ramcez Villegas/SunStar File Photo

Climate change in Davao

Davao Region is also not spared from the detrimental effects of climate change.

The City Agriculturist’s Office (Cagro) of Davao reports that the changing climate has affected the production of industrial crops.

Cagro focal person on industrial crops Dario Divino said production has been unstable since the changing weather patterns as of late disrupted the usual schedule of the harvest season. Divino said the rainy weather earlier in 2022 replaced what was supposed to be the vital dry season.

Before, the dry months of March to April of the year prepare the crops for flowering before the arrival of the wet season around May to June and harvesting will come just in time for the month of August.

This phenomenon was evident when the city only harvested a low yield of 3,000 metric tons of durian for the first half of 2022, compared to the usual harvest of at least 12,000 metric tons.

On the other hand, Divino said the unusual weather patterns also affect the health of the crops as plant diseases and pests or insects thrive in prolonged dry weather.

“Ang mga insekto dali lang sila mudaghan, mag-proliferate sila sa init na klima (The insects proliferate in warm climate). (At the same time) pagtaas ang moisture unya mag-init og kalit, ang mga fungal og sakit, mukusog (the weather changes from humid to wet allow fungal and plant disease to grow),” he said.

The tourism industry in the town of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur is also significantly impacted by climate change, according to its Provincial tourism officer, Julius Paner.

PAner said that while Sta. Cruz has been preparing for the expected long dry spell, continuous rainfall has been the unexpected outcome.

Paner highlighted that the tourism industry continues to flourish in Sta. Cruz due to its fair weather, noting that “El Niño mitigation programs have been prepared in advance to prevent wildfires in the event of no rain for a month. Failure to do so would result in the closure of Mt. Apo to climbers, causing an impact on the tourism industry.”

He said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a considerable increase in tourist arrivals (11 percent) occurred in 2023, with Mt. Apo hosting 5,000 climbers, Mt. Loay hosting 3,720 climbers, Mt. Denor hosting 4,118 climbers, Bamboo Peak hosting 3,369 climbers, and Marine Waterfalls averaging 2,000 visitors.

He said that the shearline weather experienced in mid-January resulted in the displacement of 24 families residing in Barangay Astorga in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

The Department of Agriculture-Davao Region (DA-Davao) is supporting the agricultural and fisheries sectors in improving adaptation and mitigation initiatives to address challenges brought by the ongoing climate change.

DA-Davao Supervising Science Research and Specialist Simeon Fernandez explained the significant role of the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) in farmers as this enhances their productivity and provides the basic needs of people, which is food.

“Kining AMIA, or climate resilience agriculture, nagatumbok ni siya sa, una, ma-enhance ang productivity sa atoang mga mag-uuma ug mangingisda kay ang source sa atoang pagkaon kay gikan sa kaumahan ug sa kadagatan, mao gyud na ang basic nato. Dapat ma-develop ang ilahang panginabuhian kay mao na atoang source of food,” the official said.

Fernandez also said that there is a need to adjust for the weather patterns as they widely affect the production of the agricultural and fisheries sectors.

The Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) also underscored the vital role of trees in mitigating rising temperatures.

Christopher Asibal, chief of the Cenro Upland Community Project & Forest Management Section, said in a radio interview on October 17, 2023, that there exists a symbiotic relationship between trees and humans. He explained that humans rely on trees for oxygen, while trees benefit from humans by absorbing their carbon dioxide.

He noted various environmental ordinances in the city, particularly emphasizing the recent Heritage Tree Ordinance, which aims to protect trees that hold significant value for both the city and the environment. RGL

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