UN, ADB: Climate change is a serious threat

Climate change is inevitable although only a few individuals take this current global matter seriously. From recent news about the average temperature that goes up higher and higher through the years to the deaths of many forms of lives around the world, still, many of the countries ignore the effects of climate change in their lives. Maybe they cannot perceive it, or it might not yet matter to them… for now.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that the global temperature will rise by an average of 1.8-4.0°C by 2100. This would be evident in terms of increasing water temperatures, sea levels, and acidity levels of oceans; change in rainfall patterns; extreme droughts; and other extreme weather events. Sudden changes might extremely affect several sectors in any aspect of humanity whether economic, social, environmental and even cultural.

According to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), since 1950, extreme weather changes have been happening due to the rapid development of the earth, specifically industrialization of each country. Thus, every country contributes to the adverse effects of climate change (IPCC, 2012).

Asian Development Bank (ADB) projection study explained that economic losses could be 60% higher than previous records, which reduced South East Asia’s total gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 11% by 2100.

According to ADB former Chief Economist Shang-Jin Wei, the economic costs of continuously producing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a serious note and the worst-case scenario is that that reducing emissions and stabilizing the climate will produce benefits and avoid losses for the region.

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Poverty is one of the many great issues that degraded millions of people and the development in the region is sometimes not sustained. Southeast Asia’s carbon emissions have risen by close to 5% annually over the last two decades, making the region a fast-growing emitter of GHG driving climate change, ADB reported.

During the COP21 conference on climate change in Paris, France, Southeast Asia and the Economics of Global Climate Stabilization was released. It mainly focused on the region’s five largest economies Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam, which account for 90% of the region’s emissions.

Emission reduction will require a lot of many actions in terms of research and policy accounted for the region’s current emission. Energy efficiency and technologies must also improve and reduce power use. Records claimed that it is the biggest source of long-term emission and without changing the energy utilization patterns especially in coals and in oils, the greenhouse gases, as per experts would likely to increase by 60% higher in 2050 compared in 2010.

“Reducing emissions is also contingent on developing and introducing low-carbon energy technologies, which would allow the GDP cost of decarbonization to peak within 20-25 years. Carbon capture and storage is a key technology to reduce emissions that the region should explore further” explained in the recent ADB report.

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Fixing issues in climate change especially carbon stabilization will rise by 60% in 2050 if the world and many countries agreed to curb carbon emission even just for a decade.

General economic losses in SEA

Based in 2015 published report, Southeast Asia (SEA) and the Economics of Global Climate Stabilization measured the potential impact of climate change on agriculture, tourism, energy demand, labor productivity, health, and ecosystems. This study explained the usual scenarios due to global GHG emission through 2050.

Adaptation is the only key to manage climate change. Although it is projected that South East Asia will become the major contributor to global warming in the future, policies that allow a high level of carbon emission subsides.

More river flooding, coastal inundation, and sea-level rise

About 70 centimeters is expected to increase in sea level and thus many countries would suffer and might cause the loss of land and even rapid salinity progress. “Many productive activities are found along the coastal zones and major floodplain areas in Southeast Asia and about 436 million people live within 100 kilometers of the region’s coasts (UNEP 2015).”

Low-lying areas like Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, and Ho Chi Minh would be greatly affected. Hundreds of hectares of agricultural land would we washed out.

Water stress

“The wars of the next century will be about water.” ~ Ismail Serageldin, former Vice President of the World Bank

The deterioration and depletion of the world’s water systems has taken place concurrent with the rise in the power of transnational corporations. The devastation of the water systems due to climate change and humans’ personal interest to disenfranchise the rights of many communities would truly affect the world’s systems.

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Different countries all over the world need to retool the regulations and policies in water systems should recognize the forces brought by climate change and the political interest of different corporations that do not promote social obligations in much of the “water commons” but only chaos.

In southeast Asia, competition for water sources happens. Also, climate change will exacerbate this. According to ADB (2009) report, about 185 million people in Southeast Asia would be stressed by water issues by 2050.

Intense cyclones and storms

Experts found out and projected that cyclones would be in greater frequency and more destructive than ever before. Level five (5) cyclones would be more common and would up by a 17% increase. “Extreme precipitation is projected to rise near the centers of tropical cyclone damage in the sea south of the PRC, east of Viet Nam, and west of the Philippines, Gulf of Thailand, and Andaman Sea,” ADB stated.

Agricultural production and productivity decline

More than 190 million people remain employed in the agriculture sector (ADB 2014 report). “Declines in rice yield potential have already been observed as a result of warming nighttime temperatures in the Philippines under otherwise controlled conditions (Peng et al. 2004).”

Heat-related mortality and diseases

Cardiovascular, respiratory and other related diseases increased mortality rate in SEA. Thermal stress and proliferation of diseases related to water and vector-borne also increase. ADB’s report in 2009 said that Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam deaths due to heat-related cardiovascular and respiratory diseases will increase by 3% and 14%, respectively, in 2050; and will rise by 10% and 25%, respectively, by the end of the 21st century.

Labor productivity losses

Human labor is at risk due to climate change. Pouring investments of multinational corporations in converting land to different man’s needs also increase the stress in labor. Kjellstrom et al. (2015) said that the Philippines will probably lose 6% of labor days due to change effects by the mid-2050s while Vietnam will lose by about 5%.

Higher source demands

Infrastructures in coastal areas will be damaged due to sea-level rise, storm surge, and extreme weather events, which would always require repair, reconstruction, and reinforcement.

Coral reef destruction and ecosystem collapse

About 40% of the world’s coral reefs are found in Asia, where SEA is regarded as the world’s most diverse reef communities that can be seen and found in the coral triangle. Seagrass beds and seagrass species are also projected to be extinct.

Coral bleaching happened already in Bali, Java, and Lombok in Indonesia, in which 90%–95% of corals within 25 meters of the surface have been bleached (Burke et al. 2002).

Loss of terrestrial forest and biodiversity

Even if long-live terrestrial forests have multiple trends cycle to survive changes in the environment due to their ability to respond in many changes, they are still vulnerable to death due to increasing temperature and usual patterns of rainfall due to toxic carbon acid rain. Trees have limited ability to adapt changes in drought, flooding, diseases, insects, and other parasites (FAO, 2010).

How about us, Filipinos? Does climate change matter to you now?

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