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Philippines: Global warming to cause famine in RP by 2020

Source:  Copyright 2008, Manila Times
Date:  April 20, 2008
Byline:  Rhaydz B. Barcia
Original URL: Status DEAD


Scientists warned the Philippines could experience famine by 2020, as the adverse impact of global warming takes its toll on natural resources.

One of those scientists was Lourdes Tibig, climate data chief of the central office of the national weather agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa). She and others attended the roundtable discussion of scientists and community development practitioners on disaster and climate risk reduction and climate change adaptation, organized by the Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation, of the Albay provincial government.

Tibig said the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fourth assessment report showed global warming is unequivocal, causing ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise.

“We have pumped enough greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to warm the planet for many decades to come. The earth’s natural system will be affected for decades even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced now,” she said.

“There are projected increases from 1.1 degrees Celsius to 6.4 degrees Celsius during the 21st century, and for the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade is projected, meaning severe drought occurrences and frequent flooding are expected to happen in the Philippines,” Tibig told participants here.

“The impact of climate change on agriculture will be very bad,” she added.

She said the observed mean annual temperature anomalies in the Philippines increased by 0.8904 degrees Celsius from 1951 to 2006. And she added that the increase in minimum temperature is almost three times the increase in maximum temperatures. “When there is an increase of temperature, expect more typhoons, and as the years progressed, typhoons are now crossing in Northern Luzon.”

Tibig predicted that from 2050 and beyond, the agriculture sector will be vulnerable.

“If we do not act immediately, some 1.4 billion global population will adversely suffer from famine. So there is an urgent need to address the climate change phenomenon for us to adapt and mitigate the impact of it,” she said.

Director Shiela Encabo of the National Economic and Development Authority said climate change is causing more severe typhoons, like Reming that pummeled the Bicol region in 2006. That typhoon destroyed at least $90-million worth of agricultural products and infrastructure.

Scientists believe Bicol, on the southern part of Luzon, is the most vulnerable to global warming because of its location.

“There is a need for us to work together,” Encabo said. “Local initiatives across the country should be mobilized to address and adapt mitigation schemes on climate change. To date, only Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay initiated the project on climate change that are not waiting for an international assistance to go through adaptation.”

Jose Ramon “Jiff” Villarin, a Catholic priest and president of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, said climate change should be addressed globally and locally.

“There has to be a concerted [effort] and global action to mitigate and stabilize atmospheric carbon [emissions] by instituting common [action] by differentiated responsibilities. Whatever you’re doing to environment today, you’re doing it to climatic change,” he said.

Two ways of addressing climate change is through reforestation and reducing disaster risk, he said. “We need to act responsibly for sustainability [and this] means leaving something for another day for our children.”

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