The heat is on. Melting ice caps, rising sea levels, intense climatic conditions, disappearing plant and animal species, food shortages. Seemingly unrelated happenings, all chained to what we mostly brush off as an end of days hoopla – the global warming.
I believe that global warming is real and is not simply something concocted to scare people off and make them more environmentally responsible. I mean we actually feel the effects. Baguio, for instance, which is the Summer Capital of the Philippines due to its cool weather, is now heating up. Everywhere in the country, you hear people complaining about the heat. You can also notice the frequency of super typhoons compared to previous years (e.g. Yolanda, Pablo, etc.). Now it would be a little difficult to believe that it’s merely coincidental.
Global warming, also known as the greenhouse effect is often seen as a destructive phenomenon but when functioning normally it is actually an essential process of warming the earth. Natural gases form a blanket in the atmosphere letting in sunlight and preventing heat from escaping. Without this mechanism, earth’s inhabitants would freeze to death. But civilization has generated industrial gases thickening the greenhouse blanket resulting to a super heated earth. Not only that, these deadly gases bore holes in the ozone layer allowing ultraviolet rays and unfiltered heat to reach the earth’s surface.
Global warming is not new to us. In 1960, studies revealed how the increasing levels of CO2 would lead to greenhouse effect. By the late 1970s people became aware of the issue of global warming but not much was done about it.
We have the Agenda 21 which is a comprehensive plan of salvaging what is left of the dying earth; the key, sustainable development. But sustainable development is a difficult concept to understand since it combines two completely opposite factors – exploitation of natural resources for a higher living standard and the maintenance of such resources for the future generation.
Another effort is the Kyoto Protocol calling for industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. European countries generally contribute more than half of greenhouse gas emissions than the third world countries.
Unfortunately, these attempts to curb global warming seem not to be that effective due to poor implementation or plain apathy.
Reports of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change show that between 2002 and 2003, greenhouse gas emissions of European communities increased by 1.5%. Also, the United States which is the largest per capita emitter of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels as of 2005 is a Kyoto signatory but has not ratified it causing it to be non-binding.
Society has lost its connection to the earth. We focus on short-term economic gains at the expense of the environment. And we delude ourselves that this global warming issue would soon pass as any fad would do. But it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that there really is something wrong. The signs are everywhere.
The 2004 Hollywood movie “The Day After Tomorrow” fictionally predicted a second ice age caused by global warming which may appear as an exaggeration but is a scary possibility. Much of climate changes happening now are difficult to explain. But the certainty is that if this will continue, we will experience unimaginable consequences.
The abnormal warming of the earth creates strange weather patterns resulting to tropical storms, droughts, and heat waves. The heating melts the large continental glaciers, leading to rising sea-levels, which now causes flooding, erosion, loss of wetlands and mangroves, seawater intrusion into freshwater sources, and displacement of people.
As an archipelagic nation, the Philippines is very vulnerable to the submergence of islands which are to join the fate of Atlantis.
Now the impacts are not only environmental in nature. For instance, the decline of agricultural productivity due to changing weather patterns would lead to famine or problems on food security. The environmental effects that were mentioned also equates to damage to infrastructures and countless lives that will be lost.
According to the Climate Change Performance Index Result for 2015, the atmospheric carbon concentration is set to exceed the 400-ppm benchmark emphasizing the need for ambitious agreement at the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. The conference would be focusing on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) commitments which is seen as a solution to minimizing the effects of climate change.
The heat is on as we wait and hope for a successful negotiation in Paris and as we look forward to global solidarity in fighting climate change.