Photo credit: ITU
We often hear climate change, defined as a distortion in global or regional weather patterns, is throwing impacts that are great, including annual losses in Gross Domestic Product, and shifts in rainfall patterns and distribution in the Philippines.
Others include droughts, threats to biodiversity and food security, sea-level rise, public health risks, and endangering vulnerable groups like women and indigenous people.
This change in climate patterns has been apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Climate experts are solemn while admitting that the planet is warming up at a steady pace, the reason being the increase in human-caused greenhouse gases, which has led to health, ecological and humanitarian crises.
But the experts say the fight against climate change is a real opportunity to transition to a low-carbon society, creating jobs, innovation, and social justice locally and internationally.
We may ask: What has the Philippines done to address this weather episode, which is gobbling up a good slice of the country’s GDP, which today is $450.340 billion (nominal, 2022 est.) $1.110.
A report issued in 2019 by the Institute for Economics and Peace says the Philippines is the country most vulnerable to climate change.
Between 1958 and 2014, the Philippines experienced a 0.62°C increase in yearly average mean temperature, with the rate of change increasing over time. Climate change has resulted in an increase in the amount and intensity of rainfall, with more rainy days observed in recent decades.
According to the report, high temperatures and heavy rainfall are typical of the Philippines’ humid equatorial climate. The average annual rainfall is 2,348 mm, but this varies greatly by location, ranging from 960 mm in southeast Mindanao to over 4,050 mm in central Luzon.
The year-round average temperature in the Philippines is 24°–27°C, with the hottest month being May and the coldest month being January. Humidity levels average around 82 percent, due to warm trade winds, lush vegetation, and abundant rainfall, according to the report.
The dry season in the Philippines occurs from December to May, followed by a rainy season from June to November. A second rainy season occurs from December to February on the eastern and northern coasts. Recently, the Philippines has seen wetter conditions during the dry season.
The Philippines, composed of 7,641 islands, is one of the world’s most typhoon-prone regions, averaging 19–20 typhoons annually, with 7 to 9 making landfall.
The Philippines’ sea levels are rising faster than the global average, posing a greater risk of storm surges and threatening the permanent submergence of low-lying areas, the report says.
Typhoon season in the Philippines is July-October when 70 percent of typhoons develop. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issues typhoon warnings to the general populace.
The five-year running average indicates that more typhoons occur during El Niño events. El Niño events, which occur every 2 to 7 years on average, cause less rain and typhoon activity. La Niña events, which are less common, result in heavier rainfall and more typhoon activity.
The strongest typhoon in history was super typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda in the Philippines, which had winds of up to 314 kms per hour, killed 6,300 people, and displaced millions.
You may ask: What are the impacts of climate change in the Philippines?
Climate change events include sea-level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and heavy rainfall which experts say all pose a threat to the Philippines.
Sea levels in the Philippines are rising at roughly twice the global average rate. When particularly powerful storms, such as Typhoon Haiyan, hit land, the higher sea level contributes to storm surges of up to 15–20 feet.
Storm surges are expected to affect 14 percent of the total population and 42 percent of coastal residents. Informal settlements, which make up 45 percent of the Philippines’ urban population, are particularly at risk from flooding due to precarious infrastructure, limited access to clean water, and a lack of health insurance.
This is due to the country’s vulnerability to natural dangers like typhoons and droughts, reliance on climate-sensitive natural resources, and extensive coastline, which are home to major cities and most of the 110 million-plus population.
They add that coastal flooding also poses the greatest threat to the urban poor, many of whom live in makeshift shelters. (ai/mtvn)