IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Based on the survey conducted by Pow Research Center last 2015, it shows that 72% of Filipinos said that they are “very concerned” about climate change. It is undeniably a great threat to Filipinos as we have witnessed several destructive and deadly typhoons that hit our country in the last 10 years. But not only that, we have also personally experienced extreme changes in climate and we have observed a widespread changes in extreme temperatures, cold days and cold night are becoming less frequent, hot days and hot nights are becoming more frequent, and intense tropical cyclone occurs.
It is definitely alarming as climate change can severely affect the state of our coastal, water, forest resources, agriculture, people’s health and economic growth. According to PAGASA, the effect of climate change in our coastal resources is vulnerable to accelerated sea level rise, temperature increase, heavy rainfall, and storm surges brought by tropical cyclones. Low-lying islands will soon be permanently flooded and livelihoods will also be affected such as fishing and agriculture. Water resources will be at risk in regions where rainfall is projected to decrease which will cause insufficient water supply to irrigations and households. On the contrary, floods, landslides and mudslides will occur to regions where rainfall is projected to increase and will cause destruction of public infrastructures and houses. Due to extreme increase of temperature, El Nino events may produce forest fires and the condition of highly sensitive species will be at risk.
Moreover, when unpredicted weather patterns occur, the Philippines’ agriculture will suffer if production of food supply is disturbed. Thus, if agriculture is low, the growth of our economy will be hindered. All in all, when coastal, water, forest resources and agriculture will be affected by climate change, the health of the people will also be greatly affected. Increased temperature could result to illnesses and death. Poor air and water quality could spread diseases. Cases of malnutrition will also grow among children if food production is low.
ADAPTATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Now that we are already seeing and we are aware on how does climate change affect our environment and human beings; how do the Filipinos adapt to climate change?
Since climate change is inevitable, we can only prevent its further damage through implementing practices and effectively cope with the impacts of climate change. Our government and international organizations continue to set up methods to increase the public’s awareness about climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) has been actively functioning to address the problem of climate change. In fact, CCC recently held its first meeting this year last January 27th with regards to developing policies, strategies, and programs to promote resilience of Filipino people towards the impact of climate change.
Last December 2016, CCC organized a meeting on providing technical information and examples on maintenance of sustainable mangrove plantation to address climate change adaptation on coastal areas in the Philippines. Mangroves can serve as a first barrier of communities against storm surges and as a sediment trap to prevent erosion. The CCC partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)–Environment and Research Development Bureau (ERDB) and Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) to help the local government of Region 6, 7, 8 and Negros Island Region in conserving mangrove plantation.
Similar project was conducted in Calatagan, Batangas to reduce the impact of climate change in coastal areas. The Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP), with the support of National Plan of Action (NPOA), started to help barangays to protect and rehabilitate mangrove plantation. Calatagan Mangrove Development Alliance (CALMADA) also established a mangrove nursery that facilitates 10,000 mangrove seedlings and are sold at P15.00 to support mangrove rehabilitation of other barangays.
There are several ways to efficiently use our water resources such as, one, promoting to adjust the schedule of farming and enhancement of lining canals to minimize waters losses the National Irrigation Association (NIA). Two, the Department of Agriculture introduce low water use crops to solve the problem of insufficient water supply from reservoir during dry season. Three, installing drainage reuse systems to save water and make it reach areas that normal irrigation canals cannot reach. Four, improving the monitoring and forecasting systems for floods and drought can help prepare for duration of upcoming dry and wet season. Five, improving the use of water pricing policies and structures which makes the consumers pay for being supplied clean and safe water.
In mitigation of climate change in forestry, one example is the CI-Philippines Sierra Madre Project. The objective of this project is to alleviate the threat and protect the 12,500 hectares of land within Corridor. The project will restore the grassland areas in planting fast growing species and native species in order to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that will create habitats for the endangered animals. Pres. Aquino also signed the Executive Order 32 to prohibit illegal logging to preserve and protect biodiversity from destructive effects of climate change.
In agriculture, several adaptations and mitigations are continuously supported with the efforts of local communities, private sectors, government agencies and NGOs. Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) conducted a 4-month School On the Air (SOA) training program for the farmers in Agusan del Sur to educate them on how to cope with climate change. The participants received registered seeds and SOA kits while the provincial government extended their help in providing more seeds and facilities to the farmers. Another initiative was from Climate Smart-Agriculture in helping Filipino farmers in adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change. Some of the strategies are: climate resilience rice, review and adjustment of cropping calendar, using SALT (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology), rain water harvesting, mitigating methane emissions, use of biotechnology, promotion of organic agriculture, and Enhanced Farmers Field School (EFFS).
In health, one efforts of the Philippine Government and Department of Health (DOH) is the development of the 2014-2016 Climate Change Adaptation for Health (CCAH) Strategic Plan. Its goal is to protect the health of Filipinos, prioritizing those who lives in areas vulnerable to impacts of climate change. One of their objective is to improve the adaptive capacity of the health care delivery system; wherein, its strategy is to make policy instruments and interventions responsive to impacts of climate change developed and modified, and to improve the capacity of health care providers and facilities responsive to impacts of climate change.
Our government with the support of private sectors, agencies, NGOs and the local communities are definitely making progress in setting up techniques and practices for the adaptation and mitigation of impacts of climate change in our country. It is important that we strive for greater efforts in spreading knowledge about the impacts of climate change for the awareness and preparedness of Filipino people. Schools must support in providing public awareness about the impacts and effects of climate change. It would greatly help the public to understand and appreciate the concepts and the programs of government in addressing climate change. The implementation and success of every projects under the adaptation and mitigation of climate change programs depend on the support and response of the community. These programs require extensive assistance in financial, technology and labor to achieve its respective objectives; if it lack any of those, it would be a slow and ineffective progress.
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