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Vulnerable to Climate Change – Philippines

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots  Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change, Guardian, John Vidal, 23 June 17

an emotional powerful speech on climate change

……Manila, Philippines

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the city of Tacloban in November 2013, Yeb Sano was the Philippines’ climate commissioner. He was distraught when I met him. He believed that his brother who lived there had been killed along with many thousands of others.

One hour later Sano broke down as he addressed the world’s diplomats. It was the third super typhoon to hit the Philippines in three years, and five of the 10 strongest typhoons had come in the previous eight years. “Climate change is real and now,” he told them in tears.

The Philippines is regularly ranked in lists of the top few countries most affected by climate change. “We are already experiencing climate change impacts, including sea-level rise, hotter temperatures, extreme weather events and changes in precipitation,” says Sano, who has now left government to direct Greenpeace SE Asia.

“These in turn, result in human rights impacts, such as loss of homes and livelihoods, water contamination, food scarcity, displacement of whole communities, disease outbreaks, and even the loss of life.”

Scientists widely agree that the country, along with nearby Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, is a hotspot. Analysis of 70 years’ of government data, published in the International Journal of Climatology last year, shows a small decrease in the number of smaller typhoons that hit the Philippines each year, but more intense ones. It is not conclusive evidence, but previous studies have suggested the increase may be due to rising sea-surface temperatures since the 1970s.

There is no doubt temperatures are rising on land. In Manila and the surrounding metropolitan area, which has a population of more than 12m, the tropical storms are more intense, the floods are more frequent, the nights are hotter and there are fewer cool days, says the state meteorological office, Pagasa.

“There has been a significant increase [in the last 30 years] in the number of hot days and warm nights and a decreasing trend in the number of cold days and cold nights,” Alicia Ilaga, head of climate change in the government’s agriculture department, told me in 2015. “Both maximum and minimum temperatures are getting warmer. Extreme rainfall events are becoming more frequent. In most parts … the intensity of rainfall is increasing.”

It’s not just Manila feeling the heat. In its latest 2014 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it expects life in major Asian and African coastal cities like Manila, Guangzhou, Lagos, Ho Chi Minh City, Kolkata and Shanghai to worsen as temperatures rise.

“Urban climate change–related risks are increasing (including rising sea levels and storm surges, heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, drought, increased aridity, water scarcity, and air pollution) with widespread negative impacts on people (and their health, livelihoods, and assets) and on local and national economies and ecosystems,” it says. “These risks are amplified for those who live in informal settlements and in hazardous areas and either lack essential infrastructure and services or where there is inadequate provision for adaptation.”

Food supplies are also threatened. I visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) outside Manila. This research centre, funded by the world’s richest nations to develop better strains of the crop that feeds nearly half the world, has seen temperatures soar.

A few years ago, IRRI’s deputy director general, Bruce Tolentino, called climate change the greatest global challenge in 50 years. “The challenge now is to rapidly adapt farming to climate change with modern varieties and feed a fast-growing global population, half of which depends on rice as a staple food. One billion people go hungry every day. In the 1990s, rice yields were growing 2% a year; now they are just 1%. Temperatures here have risen 2–4C. Climate change will reduce productivity. Rainfall is unpredictable and rice is grown in areas like deltas that are prone to sea level rises. We have to gear up for more challenging agro-ecological conditions, we need to be able to use swampy areas and develop varieties that can be grown in salty or flooded areas.”

RRI has been working to develop rice varieties that can withstand extreme climatic conditions such as droughts, floods, heat and cold, and soil problems such as high salt and iron content. New drought-tolerant varieties that can produce up to 1.2 metric tons more per hectare [0.54 tons per acre] than varieties that perform poorly under drought conditions have been introduced to India, Nepal and elsewhere.

“Every city and every sector of society in the region is at risk,” says Sano. “The IPCC tells us it will probably get 4C warmer. That means everything will be compromised, from food and energy to settlements. We are not ready. The challenge is too huge. We are very vulnerable.”…..

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/23/from-heatwaves-to-hurricanes-floods-to-famine-seven-climate-change-hotspots?CMP=share_btn_tw

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June 24, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, Philippines

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