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85% Of Filipinos Are Feeling The Effects Of Climate Crisis

By Countercurrents.org

19 July, 2013

The informal settlements in urban areas are the worst hit by climate crisis

Climate crisis leads majority of citizens in the Philippines to say they are concerned about global warming while a research finds 80% of rainforests in Malaysia have been degraded by logging that “contributes” to climate crisis.

A Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) report [1] by Sophie Yeo said:

The impact of climate crisis is a daily reality for 8 out of ten Filipinos, according to a recent survey of 1,800 adults across the Philippines .

In the World Bank commissioned survey, 85% of those questioned said that they were personally feeling the effects of climate change, which are particularly pronounced across South East Asia .

The Philippines are the third most vulnerable country in the world to extreme weather events, such as typhoons, floods, landslides and droughts.

Lucille Sering, the Vice Chairperson of the Climate Change Commission in the Philippines said, “In the last several years, the country has suffered extreme weather events including long dry spells, heavy rains as well as strong typhoons and floods like those caused by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. “Even some areas in Mindanao that we used to consider as ‘typhoon-free' have recently been hit by very strong typhoons, floods and landslides.”

These problems are aggravated by harmful practices that have led to the destruction of the forests, mangroves and corals, and the deterioration of the environment in general.

The effects are not limited to weather.

According to the survey, climate change was also blamed for poor health, with many blaming the changes for dry skin, malaria and respiratory diseases.

There is a considerable disconnect between the number of people who say they are feeling the effects of climate change, and those who understand the impacts it could have in the future. 14% of Filipinos said they knew “almost nothing or nothing” about the expected impacts of climate change, while 38% said they knew “only a little”.

Yet, according to a global report released last month by the World Bank, climate impacts are on course to worsen over the coming decades. In particular, it highlighted that informal settlements, accounting for 45% of the urban population, will be particularly vulnerable to floods due to a poor infrastructure. Agricultural productivity in rural areas will diminish.

Yeb Sano, the Climate Change Commissioner in the Philippines , said that this lack of knowledge comes down to the complexity of the issue.

“Some people might know climate change in terms of mitigation or emissions, some people might know it limited to its impacts and some people might know it based on science,” he told RTCC.

“The survey shows 12% will have extensive understanding – that number probably represents people who know climate change in its whole spectrum.

“Climate change is basically so complex as a challenge that it would be really understandable if the population has a very small percentage of people who comprehend the concept altogether.”

Residents of urban areas feel the effects of climate change more strongly than their rural counterparts – 90% in the former compared to 79% in the latter. Understanding of the impacts of climate change is correspondingly higher in urban areas, with 52% saying they have at least a partial but sufficient knowledge, compared to 42% in rural areas.

“Extreme events when they happen do hit urban areas even more profoundly in general than the countryside, because of other factors that aggravate the climate challenge, including poor planning, misguided develop, environmental abuse and just the sheer volume of people who reside in urban centres,” explained Sano.

Those living in rural and coastal communities face threats to their livelihoods. The increasing acidification of the ocean across the whole of South East Asia will place enormous stress on coral reefs by 2050, damaging marine fisheries and tourism. Sano says that anecdotal evidence from farmers suggests that they are confused about when to plant and harvest, due to the rains coming in late.

“Many of the country's poor derive income from agriculture, fishery and natural resources that are vulnerable to climate change,” says Motoo Konishi, the World Bank Country Director for the Philippines .

“Many of them live in danger zones such as waterways, areas that are low lying and flood prone, critical slopes as well as coastal zones, making them vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events like strong typhoons and floods,”

In spite of this, efforts to reform climate change policy are limited in their effectiveness because they are only partially aligned with development plans, according to a recent review of the climate change situation in the Philippines by the World Bank. It suggests that the national, sectoral and local development plans do not fully cohere with the National Climate Change Action Plan.

Sano says, “We have 130 plus cities here and 1,500 municipalities. A national level of government agency like the Commission cannot practically cater directly, assisting all these local government units, so we need champions and we need communities that can serve as models.

“We are making a lot of headway there and the results are very promising. It's not just on risk assessment. Now they are translating that into actions that they would include as part of their comprehensive development plan.

“It's about answering the question on what kind of development they want, what matters most to them.”

Logging destroyed 80% of Malaysian Borneo 's rainforests

Palm plantation by destroying Malaysia 's rainforests

Another report [2] by Sophie Yeo said:

Borneo 's rainforests are under more threat than previously thought, researchers say, destroying a valuable carbon sink in the Malaysian part of the island.

A research team made up of scientists from three universities used new satellite technology to survey the rainforest. They found that 80% of the tropical landscape had been degraded by logging, largely due to timber or oil palm production.

The high quality images produced by the CLASlite satellite system, developed by Greg Asner and his team at the Carnegie Institution for Science, revealed a large network of logging roads that had been built through the rainforests in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak , which together make up 26% of the island of Borneo .

Philip Shearman, who co-authored the study, told RTCC, “We found that there are very few areas of rainforest in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak that haven't already been logged or cleared – we estimate that only about 22% of the land area of Malaysian Borneo is still covered by forests that have not been logged, and that's being conservative.

“The sheer extent of logging, that logging roads penetrate almost the entire area of remaining forests in Sabah and Sarawak may be a surprise to many – that's because most previous studies have used low resolution imagery to map forests, and you simply can't ‘see' logging unless you use high resolution imagery like we did.”

Malaysia 's forests are under threat from rapid deforestation, illegal removal of forest products and encroachment. Its deforestation rate is accelerating faster than in any other tropical country, and between 1990 and 2010, it lost 8.6%, or 1,920,000ha of its forest cover.

Logging on this scale releases vast amount of carbon into the atmosphere, both directly and indirectly. Most of the carbon in the forests is stored in the trees, while collateral damage to other trees and disturbances to the soil also release carbon into the atmosphere.

This can lead to complete clearances of certain areas, leaving it dry and susceptible to fire, which also releases a large amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The slash and burn tactics of the palm oil companies in Sumatra, Indonesia, were responsible for the fires in Indonesia which last month triggered one of the country's highest recorded pollution levels thanks to the haze of carbon dioxide it released into the air.

The roads snaking through the forest identified by the research team means that certain areas become susceptible to repeated bouts of logging over a short period of time. The cutting cycles, says Shearman, are far too short in Malaysia to allow for a full regeneration of the carbon stored in the forest, leading to a progressive loss of additional carbon.

The problems of this are not limited to the carbon emissions. Logging threatens the rich biodiversity of the area, and also the livelihood of the indigenous Penan people living in the Sarawak part of the forest.

“Most of the forests in Sarawak have already been logged, much of it five or six times. What happens is they'll do selective logging, where they go just chop down the biggest trees to start off with, and then they go back and back and back,” Sophie Grig, senior campaigner at Survival International, a charity working for the rights of indigenous people, told RTCC.

“Some of the communities have had their forests logged seven times, until there's nothing left for them. When the logging happens, it opens up the canopy, and then shrub grows as well. For the Penan, really they can't live without their forest so the impact on them is particularly devastating.”

The withdrawing of industrial logging could potentially create a big carbon sink; in theory, logged forests could regenerate in 50-100 years. “If left alone to grow back, big old trees pull carbon out of the atmosphere, so there is huge potential for Malaysian Borneo to play a major role in mitigating climate change,” says Shearman.

The report added:

Travel across the border to Brunei and the contrast is extreme, as 54% of the forests are untouched by logging.

“It really is quite a difference,” Shearman told RTCC. “Almost the entire extent of Malaysian Borneo is covered by a dense pattern of logging roads and logging skid trails, but just across the border in Brunei most of the forests remain intact.”

This may be less due a heightened interest in conservation and more because the economy in Brunei is dependent upon oil and gas. Malaysia and Indonesia , however, are reliant on palm oil; according to the Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal, their combined output contributed almost 87% of world production in 2007 and 91% in the world export market.

“Only small areas of intact forest remain in Malaysian Borneo, because so much has been heavily logged or cleared for timber or oil palm production,” says Jane Bryan, the team leader on the project. “Rainforests that previously contained lots of big old trees, which store carbon and support a diverse ecosystem, are being replaced with oil palm or timber plantations, or hollowed out by logging.”


[1] http://www.rtcc.org/85-of-filipinos-say-they-are-feeling-effects-of-climate-change/

[2] 18 July 2013 , “80% of Malaysian Borneo's rainforests destroyed by logging”, http://www.rtcc.org/80-of-malaysian-borneos-rainforests-destroyed-by-logging/





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