Rereading Previous Blog Posts due to the Dry Spell [caused by Climate Change?]

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Well this was one post last 10:17 am of March 17, 2009. I just edited some of this and that…

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It was one hot summer afternoon about three years ago. We had nothing else to discuss in our cell biology class, so Prof. Doctor (Doctor na nga apelido, may doctorate pa! :D) decided that for our last class meetings (the term was ending), we would be watching the recently released documentary narrated by ex US Vice President Al Gore “An Inconvenient Truth.” Global warming and environmental protection in general was an “in” topic back then (although it was already a personal principle to take care of the environment) and there was much talk about the new film, so we were quite eager to watch it.

 

So for the following meetings, our class would only need comfortable seats, a TV and a CD/DVD player (no notebooks and stuff [Yehay!]). Moments after the CD was loaded into the player, we all noticed some political and personal undertones that discussed more about the narrator than global warming and stuff. Setting those aside, we just concentrated on the “scientific” parts of the movie, since we were watching the movie as biologists-to-be, and not some political or film critics.

 

For two meetings, we watched the documentary. There were many images that have opened my consciousness into the threat of global warming. Photographic comparisons of ice capped mountains and landscapes years ago and iceless or receding ice covers in the present. Rising sea levels that would be able to submerge coastlines of cities like New York, Shanghai, Sydney and other well known metropolises. Melting polar ice caps, which aside from raising sea levels, would disrupt oceanic currents and drastically change the cooling system of global waters. Formation of stronger storms due to increased water evaporation from warmer seas could also be prevalent. Emergence of vector-borne diseases, especially mosquito-linked diseases, in areas that were free from the disease could also happen. Unequal distribution of precipitation and rising global temperatures are not just seen in the movie but presently felt as well. These and other information were all absorbed by my young mind during those film viewing sessions.

 

Upon further readings and watching other documentaries related to climate change and global warming (and years after viewing the film), it has become clear that taking care of the environment should be given added attention or else, destructive and irreversible changes would happen.

 

Everyone is affected by climate change. In the case of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); like Kiribati, Maldives, Marshalls and Tuvalu; cultural, economical and social systems are threatened by rising sea levels. Increased coastal erosion, inundation of low-lying coastal areas, increased flooding and storm surge, wetland loss, and increase salinity of surface and groundwater would happen due that sea level rise is accelerating in the South Pacific. Eventually, names like Kiribati and other small island states would disappear if global warming will not be controlled. Vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood and existence of island communities are threatened by rising sea levels.

 

Another impact concerns the northern and southern poles. News articles, clips and documentaries from various groups like the National Geographic Society have shown how global warming is quickly melting icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic region. The formation of moulins or glacier mill; (a narrow, tubular chute, hole or crevasse through which water enters a glacier from the surface) speed up glacier melting by lubricating the surface to which the ice rests upon They can be up to 10 meters wide and are typically found at a flat area of a glacier in a region of transverse crevasses. Moulins can go all the way to the bottom of the glacier more or less than 100 meters deep (wikipedia).

 

Typhoons and hurricanes (typhoons and hurricanes? what’s the difference?) will also increase in frequency and strength due to global warming. Experiences, like changing typhoon seasons here in the Philippines and irregular El Nino/La Nina phenomenon were attributed to climate change. Last February 12-13 (2010), Tropical Depression Bising, with winds ranging from 45-60 kph, was the second tropical storm to enter Philippine Areas of Responsibility (retrieved from typhoon2000.ph). It could be noted that the months January to May were considered dry months by local folks.

 

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What’s The Difference Between A Hurricane And Typhoon?
By Steve Pool (komonews.com)

SEATTLE – Aside from the name, not much. Both are severe tropical systems that have wind speeds greater than 74 mph.They are called “hurricanes” in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean and eastern Pacific Ocean. But once your go west across the International Dateline and into the western Pacific Ocean, they’re called typhoons. And of course, the Australians, who have colorful names for just about everything, have their own term for hurricanes: “willy-willys.”Typhoons generally tend to be stronger than hurricanes, but only because there’s warmer water in the western Pacific and are better conditions for storm development. And they’ve been known to affect Seattle: Some of our strongest windstorms ever recorded were remnants of a typhoon in the western Pacific.

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Despite these and other findings and experiences felt by the public and scientific community, debate is still present as to whether global warming and climate change should be an issue of concern. One personal observation is that there are different views regarding climate change impacts. A group may claim that an event with high effects would happen while another group would say no impacts or with low effects. Woodward (2003) compares two studies which could shed light in the duality of thoughts regarding climate change. One group based conclusions on what would happen IF certain conditions would be applied, while another group focused on what WILL happen in the future, not what MIGHT happen. The latter group showed results of WHAT will happen, given current conditions, while the former based their conclusions IF conditions will be applied to current situations.

 

Another reason would be due to different assumptions about future technologies and circumstances. One group assumes a future of greater disease susceptibility, deteriorating public health services, declining economic productivity and disentangled social orders. In contrast, the other group considered a future of high disease control capability and low population susceptibility.

 

What should be done then, in facing these issues? Stricter policies? Change of attitudes and behaviors? Modifying government systems? The answer would encompass all facets concerning the human population, since these issues were aggravated by anthropogenic activities, that had disrupted normal and naturally occurring phenomena. As an overall practice, Brown (2003), suggests the application of the precautionary principle in addressing global warming, and other issues as well.

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Appropriateness of Applying the Precautionary Principle to Global Warming

The precautionary principle is an appropriate guide to policy making in global warming programs, for two reasons. First, the precautionary principle is based on the rather uncontroversial ethical norm that persons should not perform acts that could cause harm to others, even if there is some uncertainty about whether those consequences will occur (Brown, 2002). Aspects of the global warming problem that make it appropriate to apply the precautionary principle include:– The enormous adverse potential impacts on human health and the environment from global warming.

– The disproportionate effects of global warming on the poorest people of the world who have not consented to or benefited from the use of fossil fuels in the developed nations.

– The fact that much of the science of climate change problem is not in dispute even if one acknowledges uncertainty about timing or magnitude global warming impacts.

– The fact that the longer nations wait to take action, the more difficult it will be to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that do not create serious damage to human health and the environment.

 

Therefore, a very strong case can be made that ethical considerations alone compel the use of this principle in formulating global warming policy (Brown, 2002)…”

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One reason as to why people behave inappropriately when it comes to dealing with environmental resources is that we limit effects in the primary level. We do not consider secondary and tertiary effects, which in the broadest sense, are all effects affecting the human society. The misconception is that the effect would only pertain to the plant or animal related to the situation. For example, extinction of Arctic and Antarctic fauna due to global warming; it would be justified by some that such loss of biodiversity would be minimal to humans since these animals are isolated and far from human presence. In a wider scope however, such event (extinction) would cause various catastrophes, like the disruption of food chains, loss of biodiversity, and unknown impacts with unknown levels of seriousness.

 

One side of the coin would be all these uncertainties and facts concerning climate change and global warming (presented by various findings from the “intellectual” community) while the other side would be the experiences and tragedies felt by the common people. It doesn’t matter if the coin lands heads or tails. Environmental problems spare no one.


To end, rapid global warming and climate change are not just reasons for intensifying our efforts to protect our environment. We protect and nurture our environment (social and natural environments) because it is the only thing we need to do that we may live, so that we may be alive! and not just function as another locomotive being. It takes an understanding of all issues (not just enhanced global warming or climate change) involved concerning man to continue our survival in this planet. As one has said, we were all born into the world to enjoy this gift called life. But life would not be enjoyable if we would be living in a world of catastrophic storms, serious diseases and marred landscapes.

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