Monday, January 3, 2011

The Phenomenon of Climate Change

By Dr. Romulo Bautista
Chief Consultant,
Ethical Development Strategies Philippines, Inc.

Climate change has become a global concern because of its threat to the very existence of humankind.

The threat comes from global warming caused by gas emissions that originate from the burning of fossil fuels in many highly industrialized countries, notably the so-called Group of 7 led by USA and the so-called BRIC Group (Brazil, Russia, India & China); as well as from other forms of environmental destruction (e.g. rampant deforestation) due to lack of stricter environmental standards and/or lack of firmer enforcement of stricter environmental standards in poor countries of the third world.

For instance, the lack of stricter environmental standards compounded by lack of stricter enforcement was evident in the Philippines during Typhoon Ondoy and Typhoon Pedring that caused massive damage to properties and massive loss of human lives. After those disastrous and catastrophic typhoons, climate change is now a growing national concern in the Philippines.

Phenomena of Climate Change

Climate change has two phenomena. For lack of adequate descriptions, one phenomenon might be described as “natural and constructive”, which is intrinsic in the nature of existing realities and is regulated by the laws of nature. The other phenomenon might be described as “man-caused and destructive”, which is extrinsic to the nature of realities and is regulated by ethical laws legislated by man.

The Kyoto Protocol on “Man-Made” Climate Change

In 1997, industrialized countries agreed on the Kyoto Protocol, which
includes provisions that curtail the use of energy in rich countries and demand stricter environmental standards, requiring all industrialized countries to abide by it, the moral and ethical argument being that the burden lies with them in all these years of economic industrial expansions. The industrialized countries, except for the USA, signed the said Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol, in effect, provides the international ethical standard on climate change, as it acknowledges and affirms the harmful effects of industrialization to the environment, and that no amount of economic wealth creation can ever morally justify the dangers from “destructive man-made” climate change.

The sad reality is that the “man-caused” climate change affects alike the industrialized rich countries and the poor countries in the third world, such as the Philippines. The Philippine experience from rampant disregard of stricter environmental standards that resulted into massive disasters and catastrophes upon thousands of Filipinos during Typhoon Ondoy and Typhoon Pedring, makes it imperative for government and all concerned to set up stricter environmental standard.

Impacts of “Man-made” Climate Change

The “man-caused” climate change is already transforming life on
Mother Earth. Around the world, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. If we do not act now, the “man-caused” climate change will permanently alter the lands and waters we all depend upon for survival.

Depending on where we live now on earth, the following are some of the most noted dangerous consequences of “man-caused” climate change:

• Higher temperatures
• Changing landscapes
• Wildlife at risk
• Rising seas
• Increased risk of drought, fire and floods
• Stronger storms and increased storm damages
• More heat-related illness and diseases
• Economic losses

The above consequences of “man-made” climate change are increasingly noted and experienced in Davao City and elsewhere in the Mindanao Area, but especially in the Luzon Area of the Philippines

According to the world-wide research studies of The Nature Conservancy, “there are 3 billion people who live in poverty around the world that will be hardest hit by climate change. The poor are more dependent on natural resources and have less of an ability to adapt to a changing climate. Diseases, declining crop yields and natural disasters are just a few of the impacts of climate change that could devastate the world’s most vulnerable communities. The world poorest are also the least responsible to climate change.”