How is the Philippines coping with climate change? Or more importantly, is our country even trying to survive the fast changing and extreme weather conditions affecting us nowadays?
According to our Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, climate change is already happening now and there already are a number of assisted climate change adaptation programs and projects that are being implemented here.
They admit that evidences being seen these past years support the fact that global warming cannot simply be explained by the natural variation of our weather.
The most recent scientific assessments have confirmed that this warming of the climate since the mid-20th century is most likely because of human activities, and thus, is due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations from the burning of fossil fuels and land use change.
Global warming has also increasingly posed quite considerable challenges to man and the environment, and will continue to do so in the future. They say that at present, some adaptation is taking place, but we need to consider a more pro-active adaptation planning in order to ensure sustainable development.
What does it take to ensure that adaptation planning has a scientific basis? First, we need to be able to investigate the potential consequences of human induced climate change, and to do this, a plausible future climate based on reliable and accurate baseline weather must be constructed. This is what scientists call a climate change scenario. It is a projection of the response of the climate system to future emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and is simulated using climate models. Essentially, it describes possible future changes in weather variables (like temperatures, rainfall, storms, winds, etc.) based on baseline climatic conditions.
The climate change scenario projections are an important step forward in improving our understanding of our complex weather, particularly in the future. These show how our local climate could change dramatically if the global community fails to act effectively towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
More recently, scientific assessments have indicated that the Earth is now committed to continued and faster warming unless drastic global mitigation action is put in place the soonest.
Realizing this, I did some research and discovered that a London-based firm called The Eco Experts has been conducting a regular study since 1995 to find out which countries are best-equipped to cope with climate change, and they have maps which show the best and worst places to live as Earth warms up.
Climate change experts there have released maps of the world revealing how prepared different nations are to cope with the effects of global warming, and in those maps, 192 countries are ranked according to their vulnerability and readiness separately, but these scores tally up to produce an overall total indicating how a particular nation would fare.
The results reveal that Norway is the country best equipped to cope with the effects of climate change and it has topped the ranking every year since the index began in 1995.
Other Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland and Denmark – along with the United Kingdom – score well on the scale and are among the most likely to survive, while North America will also be able to cope with the effects of global warming because of high readiness scores for the USA and Canada.
While most countries across Europe will not be severely affected by climate change, Asia has a wide range of scores for different countries, owing to the vastly different climates and levels of infrastructure in various countries. Surprisingly, Australia comes out fairly well in the map, despite being a notoriously hot country, and the Philippines has also ranked fairly so far.
Those in Central America, Africa and India all appear at risk from natural disasters and are poorly equipped to cope with climate change, but areas of sub-Saharan Africa like Burundi, Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo produced some of the lowest scores, meaning these countries will be the biggest victims of weather disasters.
Various islands such as Haiti will be severely affected by climate change, perhaps due to the effects of rising sea levels. Others like Barbados, though, will apparently avoid some of the worst effects.
At the bottom of the table, Chad was deemed the country that would suffer the most from climate change because it needs more investments and innovations to improve readiness, and to take action.
The Eco Experts warned that hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, droughts and flooding are all real dangers for some of these areas, and this is compounded by a lack of national strategy in the latter places to counteract these extreme weather conditions.
Global warming is one of the greatest threats we face, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that continued emissions of greenhouse gases at their current level could cause a disastrous and irreversible impact on our planet.
The effects of climate change are very clear. 2016 has officially been named the hottest year on record with temperatures having not been this warm for 115,000 years. While in the Antarctic, this warm weather has caused a huge crack to appear in the Larsen C ice shelf. If this iceberg – a quarter of the size of Wales – breaks away, there are worries that it will cause sea levels to rise by 4 inches worldwide.
It is now more important than ever for countries worldwide to launch serious initiatives to tackle climate change in order to save Earth from catastrophic consequences. More information and education campaigns must be done at all levels in all countries to help achieve this.