40-degree Celsius temperature in October? If ever you thought climate change was just a buzzword that environmentalists threw around to encourage people to become more responsible in dealing with the environment, then you better try stepping out of your door and feel the wall of humidity.
Apparently, the chilly “brrrrr” months have gone, replaced by a scorching hot season reminiscent of summer. Truth be told, climate change is expected to impact every nation in the world. However, its impact is worse than usual in other countries and unfortunately, the Philippines is one of the countries that is feeling the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change.
How has this come to be? The Earth’s climate has drastically changed throughout history. According to research conducted by NASA, in the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the sudden windup of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the start of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are credited to minute variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.
The current warming trend is of actual importance because most of it is extremely likely to be the result of human activities since the mid-20th century and advancing at a rate that is unparalleled over decades to millennia.
The most obvious effect of climate change has been the rise of the planet’s temperature. The planet’s normal surface temperature has increased by around 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a variation sparked, by and large, by amplified carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Most of the world’s warming has in fact happened in the last three decades, with five of the warmest years on record taking place since 2010.
Here in the Philippines, the country already faces an unusual number of natural disasters ranging from earthquakes, tsunamis and floods brought about by hurricanes that seemingly pay the country a visit a few times each month.
The country’s capital — Manila — the population of which, is packed like sardines in a can, making it immensely challenging to evacuate during natural disasters and even more difficult to provide assistance to and rebuild afterwards. Subpar infrastructure, the lowlights of which are useless drainage and sanitation systems, are often to blame for many of the city’s flood woes.
So, can the country stand the brute force of Mother Nature? Officials say the Philippines is already at the “forefront of adaptation” to climate change, and have earmarked part of the budget to making their agricultural sector and infrastructure tougher, and more prepared to respond to any and all natural disasters.
A prime example of this is the government’s Flood Management Master Plan for Metro Manila, which sought to manage future floods by updating and producing new pumping stations and putting in money in other infrastructure along waterways, according to information from the Asian Infrastructure investment Bank.
The Philippines have also established a Climate Change Commission, which has put into action such programs as the National Climate Change Action Plan, a long-term strategy for highlighting “food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, climate smart industries and services, sustainable energy, knowledge and capacity development.”
Would all these be enough for the country to withstand the seemingly endless parade of natural disasters? Only time will tell. But for now, you better put on sunscreen, even in October.