COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
I’ve been listening to the issue of climate change for several years now but the topic seems to hang at the abstract level. The recent news, however, of floods and landslides happening in the different parts of the world, even in places where there used to be no floods, have somewhat made me see the reality of the changing earth condition.
But it is only this year that I personally feel the effect of climate change. It’s the heat! I first experienced it last June when it was expected to be the start of the rainy season. The days were unusually hot, hotter than the summer months earlier; hotter than in March, April, or May.
The hot earth I felt during that month was rightly so, for a few weeks ago, I read in the papers that this June of 2010 was the hottest temperature the earth has reached in so many years, surpassing the 2005 record. The planet, indeed, is warming and becoming intolerable for human habitation.
Now it’s September and I’m feeling the heat again though not of the June intensity. But September is a monsoon month with cool winds and what I’m experiencing now is not the September I used to know. Again, the heat is not the usual kind you feel while under the sun but the kind you feel while near the hot oven. This heat is simply suffocating.
Having lived in the countryside I am very sensitive to the weather and climate. The natural environment was our gauge in doing our daily activities then. The kind of air we breathed there is not the kind of air that I am breathing now here in the city. While the polluted atmosphere in the city, is warmer compared to the clean and cool atmosphere in the countryside.
Being sensitive to the weather and climate, I have observed their changing patterns in the last two decades in this side of Leyte, but did not attribute them much to the issue of climate change. Gone were the long spells of dry and wet season. Instead, there is rain in each week throughout the year; more precipitation during the cold months and less on the hot months.
I also noticed that the typhoon paths have altered and we are having lesser typhoons than in the past. The previous decade brought us stronger and more destructive typhoons compared to this last decade. But still, typhoons will always be part of our lives as we are situated at the rim of the Pacific.
The increasing heat in the atmosphere brought about by a rising earth temperature is an alarming trend. When the heat becomes intolerable, living organisms like insects, planktons, and small fish are likely to die and will affect the food chain. The resulting ecological imbalance will further lead to extreme temperatures and perilous weather conditions.
High carbon emission has been largely the cause of the earth’s rising temperature, coupled with the massive destruction of trees that could have absorbed the high carbon content in the atmosphere. The relatively high emission of carbon, however, is coming mostly from the industrialized states where there is high fossil fuel consumption.
And, as is always the case with world politics wherein the advanced industrialized states dominate in global affairs, we in the Third World simply have to suffer the consequences of their actions and decisions. The United States, in particular, is still reluctant in lowering the amount of their carbon emission as doing so would affect their industries and energy consumption.
Since we occupy a very small area of land and carry a very small voice in influencing planetary decisions, the most that we can do is to insulate ourselves from the ravages of climate change. Massive planting of trees can somehow neutralize the heat covering our territory, and help absorb the carbon in the atmosphere and help reduce the earth’s temperature. Trees would even minimize flooding and landslides in our different localities.
Sometimes in our effort to improve life and modernize, we have destroyed nature itself which is the base of our existence. We have managed to protect ourselves from the heat and the rain, from storms and occasional volcanic eruptions. But now, we have created a whole new world of natural disasters that we can barely contain. It’s back to man versus nature, again.
I’ve always loved nature as the great manifestation of God, of its beauty and wonder and great provisions for life. I only hope that God will continue to manifest as I could hardly breathe with the increasing heat, and protect me from the more disastrous effects of a worsening weather and climate.
September, 26, 2010