Thursday, October 15, 2009


Disasters such as typhoons, flash floods, landslides, etc., that are occurring with alarming frequency here in our country and abroad are suspicious signs that climate on earth has been changing. During my school days, I learned from my books in science that Scientists all over the earth prophesied a bleak future headed toward numerous baffling phenomena about the Earth warming up and cooling down. And true enough because not long ago, even the man on the street knew about the El Nino and La Nina phenomena. When the climate or weather patterns on earth is unfavorable say for instance, the amount of rainfall decreases, food production will be affected. Many people will starve. The heating up of the earth's temperature beyond the normal will melt the polar ice caps. Sea level will rise and coastal areas will be under water.

Let me start to review our basic knowledge about climate for the youth who are the heirs of this earth. Climate in a particular place doesn't change quickly. It is because it is influenced by permanent factors like altitude (or the height of a place above sea level), latitude ( or the imaginary lines that run parallel to the equator going north or south), bodies of water, wind system, and amount of rainfall or snowfall a particular area receives for a longer period of time. Climate differs from weather as the latter is that condition of the sky that changes from time to time, from day to day, influenced by cloud formation, water evaporation, location, temperature, wind speed and direction, and rainfall. Climate is the average of all weather conditions prevailing for a longer period of time.

The Philippines sits in the tropics in the Northern Hemisphere near the equator. Due to such location, the country experiences two distinct seasons- the wet season and the dry season. The Philippines has a tropical climate- not very hot, not very cool. In places where it is sunny and dry for months, the climate is dry. Areas that experience longer period of rainy days are described to have wet climate. Elementary grades pupils are very much aware of the following types of Philippine climate, to wit:(reference-Into the Future:Science and Health for Grade Six)

The first type of Philippine climate is open to southwest monsoon. It is described as dry for 6 months (from November to April) and wet for another 6 months (from May to October). The sample areas with this climate are Metro Manila, Baguio, Western Luzon, Panay, Mindoro, Negros Island and Northwest Palawan.

The second type is open to northeast and southwest monsoons, described as without dry season with maximum rainfall from November to January. Some provinces covered are Catanduanes, Daet, Sorsogon, Samar, Eastern Mindanao, Camarines Norte, Quezon, Leyte.

The third type is open to southwest monsoon but is protected in part from the northeast monsoon. Central Cebu, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Southern Quezon, Masbate, most of Eastern Negros, Palawan, and parts of Northeastern Mindanao are areas covered by this type.

The fourth experiences rainfall throughout the year and is evenly distributed. This is felt in Davao, Batanes, Northeastern Luzon, Western part of Camarines Norte, Eastern Mindoro and Marinduque.

It is clear that the Philippines experiences four types of climate depending on the amount of rainfall received by a particular area during a particular period of time during the year. However, today, the statistical data above seemed to have changed. I can say this because Western Luzon where Pangasinan, my province, is located, is experiencing wet days even as far as the month of December which is supposedly a dry month in this area. The rains and worse the typhoons are highly unpredictable nowadays. At present times we have more incoming wet All Saints' Days and Christmases in November and December, respectively. If this is not due to climate change, then what is this all about?

Scientists all over the world agree that there is tendency of climate to change. Why there is climate change is an earth issue which these people have been studying, searching for categorical answers all their lives. Scientists have already unearthed evidences since 1940 that the Northern Hemisphere has been cooling off and that the Southern Hemisphere shows signs of warming up but they simply don't understand why. They tend to differ in their views also as to whether the people's activities affect climate.

For example, burning just anything on earth that produces heavy smoke releases great amount of carbon dioxide in the air. This gas popularly known as greenhouse gas acts like glass in a greenhouse that traps heat and retains it longer causing worldwide rise of temperature. While some of these geniuses believe that strengthened greenhouse effect cause ice caps in the north and south poles to melt, others think otherwise. They say that a stronger greenhouse effect will increase moisture in the air and clouds will form. The more clouds the better because clouds will reflect incoming sunlight back to space keeping the earth's temperature in a balance. Excessive dust from farmlands are also said to increase the greenhouse effect that warms the climate, others say that excess dust will reflect sunlight and cool the earth.

To deflect whatever greenhouse gas may cause, however, specially the negative effects, our education sector is bent on making school children aware of the phenomenon of climate change and teaching them their possible contributions to save Mother Earth. Hence, many projects were launched decades ago to address the ill- effects of ecological imbalance in our climate. There were the Sagip-Pasig Movement, Clean and Green Campaign, Proper Garbage Disposal Management, Tree Planting, Adopt-a-Tree Program, and a lot more. The government has been acting on bills passed to protect the environment that have something to do with illegal logging, reforestation, pollution, and other sorts of earth-saving programs..

I, for one, suspects that the disasters that recently devastated a big portion of our country from north to south, are results of climate change and human negligence combined.Too many wind-related disasters like typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones, and storms happening the world over are probable proofs that the world's wind system has changed. Floods that cause landslides and other land falls are possible evidences also of either too much rainfall or a rise in sea water level due to melting ice caps in the high seas and oceans or the two circumstances combined. People in government, those manning the weather forecasts, and those who are identified with dam operations have much to explain why typhoons of Pepeng's nature caught them with their pants down. The damage has been done. They must refrain from this finger-pointing. But they must retrace their policies and their future actions must redeem their negligences or incapacities for the people's sake.

Whatever happened to all those high-fallotin' government programs and projects? Are they just the "ningas-kugon" types now relegated to the backseats? I saw on TV the Senate inquiry directed to the officials of the San Roque Dam here in Pangasinan over their celebrated oversight or negligence in their procedure of releasing excess rain waters that destroyed infrastructures such as concrete dikes and bridges, washed away houses, cost many lives, destroyed plantation and production, overflowed fishponds, caused landslides or landfalls. After all, the people in the neighboring towns who strongly rejected the construction of the dam were right. Why the project was mothballed for sometime due to pressures and construction pushed through after a lull, is to me very suspicious. Now everybody is pointing fingers to everybody but themselves.

We are doomed forever here in Pangasinan, one of the so-called flood plains. Lingayen, my hometown, will eternally become a downstream spillway to Lingayen Beach. Disasters in the future like this first of its kind flooding will irreversibly be blamed to climate change aggravated by heavy rainfalls, never by human errors in government and the NAPOCOR who operates the dams. And before the damage to lives and properties are justifiably rectified, if ever it happens, people will have no more use of their lands. Those who probably can afford to leave their place will relocate and be saved from their nightmares but the least among them, those without money to buy land in safer place, those who are only able to put up houses of light materials, shanties from scraps , on a land probably inherited from their parents, will wait for their own destiny- an obscure one. Life to them is a daily survival from the elements , courtesy of climate change and corruption in government.

Photo by ItzaFineDay

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