Friday, June 28, 2013


Climate Change Adaptation And Mitigation


The World Bank report entitled, “Turn Down The Heat Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience” could be the latest call for sobriety on human excesses against our environment. The die is cast so to speak. The report, covers Southeast Asia that includes the Philippines, shows that temperature will rise to an alarming level of four (4) degrees Celsius temperature in just the next few years. 

Impact could be more catastrophic as the Region is host to thousands of islands where it could totally or partially be submerged as in the Noachian flood. It is projected, based on numerous atmospheric and oceanographic surveys that a mere two (2) degree Celsius increase will lead to 50 cms. rise in sea level by the year 2050. By chance, world population shall have ballooned to 9.3 billion from 7 billion today while Philippines population could reach 150 million from 97 million now.   

According to the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, the Philippines ranks third on Climate Change Vulnerability test. The top 10 countries are Vanuato, Tonga, the Philippines, The Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Timor Leste, Costa Rica, Cambodia and El Salvador. 

It could not be denied that destructive impact on climate change is already felt far and wide. Weather aberrations like El Niño, La Niña, hurricanes, tsunamis and forest fires are parts and parcel of our daily existence. As oceans heat up, thousands of square kilometers of coral reefs are bleached white thus reducing capacity of our sea to provide food and weaken natural defense against coastal erosion. On land, water reservoirs dry up to critical levels resulting to power outages, domestic water and irrigation problems.

The alarming food supply and health woes could trigger social and political unrest. Even as Secretary Proceso Alcala has committed to rice self-sufficiency by 2016, NFA has imported recently a total of 280,000 bags of rice from Vietnam. The onset of rainy season deemed unusual at times breeds the so called “wild diseases” affecting people like water-borne diseases, influenza, leptospirosis and dengue. 

What can be done to mitigate the impact of climate change? In other words how can we manage to become resilient?

Well, the DENR has only one answer: stop cutting trees but plant more trees. The 1 billion forest trees targeted under the National Greening program is continuing until 2016. Every Filipino citizen, young and old, rich or poor is encouraged to participate. The LGU does the coordination. 

It is very unfortunate that the Philippines loses up to 210,000 has. of forest land each year according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Majority of the trees cut is done by illegal woodcutters, encroaching on public forests. E.O. No. 123 signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III declares a moratorium on cutting and harvesting timber in the National and residual forest. It created the anti-illegal logging Task Force. But the order is good only on paper. No one has been prosecuted and placed behind bars even they violated the order. The Philippines has 8 million hectares of denuded and idle forest land. Out of it, only 4 percent of Philippines forests remained as natural habitat for many endemic species like the Philippine eagle and tamaraw. 

Some 18 years ago, the scenario of impending doom and gloom the US Geologic Services reported was taken lightly, branded as highly speculative and misleading. Today, it sounds ominous and compelling. For example the National Housing Authority is set to relocate 20,000 families in Metro Manila whose houses are in high risk areas. The total funding this year is P50 billion which would be a continuing drive in as much as makeshift housing units, clog waterways, exacerbate siltation and dumping of garbage.

For practical purposes, resiliency of people to environmental problems depends on sound eco-friendly practices. Electric cars and trikes may sound high tech but these are practical vehicles of the future. The need to re-invent our lifestyles and work places is paramount as gasoline prices soar to phenomenal heights. The reduction in the world’s carbon footprints mainly carbon dioxide and methane gas is imperative. The use of fossil fuels to generate power must be replaced with renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass. 

At farm level, farmers need to plant varieties tolerant to drought, high salinity, flood prone and problematic soils. For instance, sorghum, one of staple crops of India is adopted to grow in both semi wet and dry climates. The popular root crops like cassava, camote, yams and ube are resistant to drought and typhoons. Consumers must recognize the effort of farmers in producing these crops. Consumers must be ready to pay the price for if the farmers will not plant people will have nothing to eat. 

Shallow rooted crops like rice, corn, vegetables (leafy and fruit), soybeans, and peanuts, easily succumb to environmental stress. Recently, Isabela province suffered a P11.0 million loss to agricultural crops as a result of drought in a normally rainy season. This makes planting of permanent agricultural crops is the best option to cope with climate change. Plantation crops that are possible are coconuts, palm oil, rubber and mango which expected bearing age takes 5-6 years. Intercrops like bananas are recommended for early income. Livestock like goats or chicken could be raised for additional income. 

In my 3.3 hectares farm in Cabulihan, Pudiot, Tangalan, coconuts are now luxuriantly growing with jackfruits, bananas, and mango as secondary crops. A small water impounding project for tilapia and ducks in the 120 meter high rolling terrain is being constructed. A modest farmhouse is built for the caretakers. /MP 

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