Sunday, October 09, 2011

Officials have warned Filipinos to brace against the inconvenient truth of devastating storms, flooding and drought unless policies and projects are put in place to mitigate climate change.

Undersecretary Graciano Yumul of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said that in the next 20 to 50 years, the Philippines would find "the dry seasons drier and the wet seasons wetter."

"With the climate change scenario, we will see more of this as a frequent reality," Yumul said in an interview. "What we used to consider as abnormal we should now consider as normal," he noted.

Scientists describe the phenomenon as any distinct changes in weather patterns, such as temperature, rainfall, wind and snow over a long period of time.

A major factor is global warming-the increase in the oceanic and atmospheric temperatures of the planet resulting in the melting of the ice caps and the rising of the seas.

The doomsday scenarios, depicted in Al Gore's 2006 award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," are now playing out in the Philippines.

The climatology division of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has released the results of a study in 2010 concluding that climate data from 1960 to 2003 showed significant increases in the frequency of hot days and warm nights in many areas of the country.

On the other hand, Pagasa observed that cooler days had decreased. This trend mirrors the experience of other countries in Southeast Asia, Pagasa said as it predicted more rains in the Philippines in the coming decades.

"Reduction of rainfall is seen in March, April and May in most provinces, while rainfall increases are likely in Luzon and Visayas in 2020 and 2050 during the June-July-August and September-October-November seasons," the study said.

"Greater increase in rainfall is expected in the provinces of Luzon (0.9-63 per cent) and Visayas (2-22 per cent) during the peak southwest monsoon period (June-July-August)."

The number of days where temperature will breach 35 degrees Celsius will also increase in 2020 and 2050, according to Pagasa models.


Antonio Apostol Jr., chief geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, said human activities in the regions that bore the brunt of Typhoons "Pedring" and "Quiel" that struck the country last week exacerbated the hazards and the risks.

The plains of Bulacan and Pampanga have always been prone to floods, he said.

But the proliferation of fishponds and aquaculture projects in the major waterways and in the coasts has slowed down the flow of water from the typhoons and the dams, resulting in prolonged flooding in residential and rural areas, Apostol said.

"These have a multiplier effect. So when the water was released from the dams, the natural drainage could not handle it anymore," he said.

If there were no fishponds and garbage clogging the canals and rivers of the region, "the outflow would have been quicker," Apostol said.

Floods and landslides will be more widespread until officials realize that they should adapt to the changes in weather and lessen their effects on the general population, Apostol and Yumul said.

"In other parts of the country, we are seeing the same situation. In the cities of Butuan and Cotabato, there were floods, too, because the rivers were clogged with water lilies," Apostol said.

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