Climate Change: No Longer A Future Threat
The world is warming.
That’s not such a shocker, right? Even if we don’t pay much attention to news stories about how each month of the year 2016 broke global temperature records, we would still know this as we experienced first-hand how warm the past months were.
In the Philippines, several locations recently registered alarming heat indices. Cabanatuan City recorded a heat index as high as 52.3 degrees Celsius in April, and that is found already near the upper limit of the dangerous heat index range of 41 – 54 degrees Celsius. In the same month, Cavite registered 50.2 degrees Celsius while Clark, Pampanga 51.9 degrees Celsius.
On the global scale, US agencies National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed that last year was the warmest year in record and 15 of the 16 warmest years since record-keeping started in 1880 are just in the period 2001-2015. Curious about that lone year outside the 21st century that made it to the hottest 16 list? It’s 1998. Still fairly recent.
And if we look at the first 5 months of this year, there is strong indication that 2016 will also break 2015’s record, just like what 2015 did to 2014’s record. NOAA noted that the average global land and ocean surface temperature for the first 5 months of the year (January–May 2016) resulted to the warmest such period on record. Even in today’s culture of competitiveness, this is definitely one record we don’t want broken over and again.
What does this mean for us? Climate change in the form of increasing land and sea surface temperatures will result to longer and more intense droughts, heat waves and wild fires; stronger hurricanes and typhoons; unprecedented melting of land ice and sea level rise; migration or possible extinction of animals, plants and insects that cannot adjust as swiftly as the temperature rise, among other critical effects.
Governments of the world have agreed to a 2 Celsius degree limit. Each party must contribute to the global effort of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic consequences. The sad and deeply disturbing news that came in March of this year is that we have crossed that must-not-cross line, although only briefly. On March 1, 2016, the Northern Hemisphere exceeded the limit of 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” when measuring from pre-industrial levels.
If there is one global crisis that needs to be given top priority by our world leaders today, then this must be it. It’s no longer a future threat that we need to address at the present for the sake of the next generations. It’s now a current threat we need to address to survive.
Let us demand from our local and national leaders to make a definitive stand on climate change as well as to create a solid mitigation (#ClimateAction, #SayNoToCoal, #YesToRenewableEnergy) and adaptation (economic resiliency, food security, disaster preparedness) plan for the country and different localities.