Uncanny Weather Occurrences & Climate Change
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
What exactly happens when fact and fiction is no longer divided by that thin line separates imagination from reality?

The sheer thought of answering that question could be quite creepy if you’d really think about it. But one does not need to look far especially if you’re in Thailand, where there seems to be this weird thing going on with their weather, which seems like a page of some prophetic book that talks about some impending apocalypse. As some provinces are facing the severest drought in decades while in Chiang Mai and other provinces situated along the Mekong river have been battling floods as the water level rises. Weird don’t you think so?

For starters there’s this flooding of downtown Chiang Mai that started with the excessive mid-August downpours which came as a shock to all of us. With water levels as high as 4.81 meters by Nawarat Bridge on which was according to many is the worst flood that Chiang Mai has seen in over 30 years. Causing an approximate number of 3,192 households submerged under water and over tens of thousands of people have reported to being affected by the flood. Paralyzing many businesses in the area which resulted in severe damage and loss in investment, thus prompting the urgent need to restructure the city flooding prevention plans.

In the meantime, the Mekong river, which received excessive water in its upstream section from heavy rain early this month, has overflowed into more than 400 villages, in Nakhon Phanom province as well as affecting the Mukdahan province, where part of the Muang Mukdahan municipality was flooded and also raising the water level in Ubon Ratchathani province, flooding about 1,000 rai of farm land and 20 houses.

While many nearby provinces are struggling with their most serious drought in four decades because of deficient rainfall, bringing about only 565 million cubic meters of water left for consumption in the reservoir of the Ubonrat dam in Khon Kaen. Experts in the area even warn that if the weather does not oblige, there will only be enough water left for two months of consumption.

You may think that this weird weather phenomenon is just something that came out of a sci-fi flick or in some dystopian story that was written Ray Bradbury. But true enough this one’s for real and just like that in those fictional stories this sort of disasters happen all because mankind didn’t realize what it means when we mess around with Mother Nature. The reason for these dramatic changes to the climate is simple: we have disrupted the natural balance of our atmosphere.

Some say that there ain't no hell like a woman's wrath, and on this one their right on the money as such catastrophes are basically brought about by climate change which is basically mother nature’s reaction to mankind’s reliance on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas for their energy needs and because of the accelerated industrial activity of humankind, the natural balance of our planet has been severely disrupted.

The burning of these fossil fuels releases the global warming gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which has greatly increased the temperature of world's natural central heating system, leading to rising global temperatures, and deadly and unpredictable changing climates.

Thus providing a higher risk of more extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods, which very much explains what’s happening in Thailand. In fact, already, the global incidence of drought and flooding has doubled over the past 30 years. Moreover, threatening natural systems, including glaciers, coral reefs, mangroves, arctic ecosystems, alpine ecosystems, boreal forests, tropical forests, prairie wetlands and native grasslands.

Apart from that these changes in the climate also brings about severe impacts on a regional level. Let’s take Europe, as an example river flooding increases over much of the continent, and in coastal areas the risk of flooding, erosion and wetland loss will increase substantially.

Another is that at all scales of climate change, developing countries will suffer the most. In fact, the greatest impacts will be on the poorer countries least able to protect themselves from rising sea levels, spread of disease and declines in agricultural production in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Just like what’s presently going on in Thailand which is not really an isolated case since such weird weather occurrences are also happening in other parts of the globe, wreaking havoc the underdeveloped economies of most third-world countries and leaving a huge number of people homeless.

But all is not loss.

There are already existing answers to the menace of global warming and climate change. It’s called renewable energy, energy efficiency and new environmentally sound technologies - already exist.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report confirms that hundreds of technologies are now available, at very low cost, to reduce climate damaging emissions, and that government policies only need to remove the barriers to these technologies.

Once put into action these solutions will usher people to the new era of energy, which will bring economic growth, new jobs, technological innovation and, most importantly environmental protection.

However, in order for these solutions to find a foothold in the market, governments and corporations need to shift away from polluting technology. And that is quite a challenge since in most industrial countries, conventional electricity is heavily subsidized, and the negative environmental impacts of its production are not reflected in the cost to end-users. But the fact still remains that there is a need for us to end our reliance on fossil fuels in order to avert such natural calamities.

While on the other hand if you’re thinking of more practical ways in combating climate change. Here are some suggestions:

Take a walk! Each gallon of gasoline used by a vehicle releases 22 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But if you really drive, consider carpooling another is that do not slack on car maintenance.

Saving electricity at home is also another good place to start, and you could do that by switching incandescent light bulbs in your home to more energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

Likewise, when purchasing new appliances, be sure to look for those with the EPA Energy Star label since these electrical devices use 20-40% less energy than standard models.

Lastly it would also help if we’d all just go about planting trees and shrubs along side of our houses which acts as a natural insulator, making it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

The time has come for us end our addiction to fossil fuels and other climate damaging technologies. Because these haywire weather disturbances is costing lives and livelihood, let us do our part and help advance the new revolution for clean energy its our only hope of averting these climate catastrophes on a larger scale.

visit - http://www.greenpeace.org.ph/


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