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The continuing global warming threat

Manila Standard

PAUSE, gaze and listen.

The effects of human-caused global warming are happening and being felt now, not only in the Philippines but elsewhere.

Earth’s temperature has risen by an average of 0.06° Celsius (0.11° Fahrenheit) per decade since 1850, or about 2° F in total.

Modern global warming has been the result of an increase in magnitude of the so-called greenhouse effect, a warming of Earth’s surface and lower atmosphere caused by the presence of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, and other greenhouse gases.

Climatologists and other experts say the effects are irreversible for people alive today, and will worsen as long as humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

These gases are carbon dioxide which enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels; methane, emitted during the production and transport of natural gas and oil; nitrous oxide, emitted during agricultural, land use, and industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste; and fluorinated gases, emitted through a variety of household, commercial and industrial applications.

It is reassuring the Philippines, highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, has committed to reduce emissions by 75 percent by 2030, one of the most ambitious targets in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines, which aims to accelerate its transition to a green economy, also intends to increase the share of renewable energy to 35 percent of the power generation mix by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

We are anticipative, though anxious, the country will be able to hurdle this climate change challenge which is, among others, changing water availability, making it scarcer in more regions.

Experts say global warming exacerbates water shortages in already water-stressed regions and is leading to an increased risk of agricultural droughts affecting crops, and ecological droughts increasing the vulnerability of ecosystems.

Rising sea levels, higher temperatures, and increased frequency of typhoons and extreme weather events can cause floods, landslides, and erosion that pollute water resources, damage infrastructure, destroy crops, and lead to loss of lives and livelihoods.

In 2022, the World Risk Index ranked the Philippines as the country with the highest disaster risk.

The Philippines’ rich but increasingly depleted natural resources provide critical protection against the impacts of climate change, offering shoreline protection, flood control, soil stability, and habitats for biodiversity.

Without action, the World Bank estimates annual economic harm from climate change in the Philippines could reach 13.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Using a mid-range emissions scenario, the climate projections done by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration for 2020 and 2050 indicate all areas of the Philippines will get warmer, with largest increase in temperatures in the summer months of March, April and May.

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