Yolanda: Major Signal of Climate Change?

By Iluminado Varela Jr.

MANILA, Nov. 7 (PNA) — Many countries are continuously giving financial and other relief aids to typhoon Yolanda victims in Eastern Visayas.

But international scientists and world environmental watchers are more concerned with the question: “Is this cyclone another major proof of climate change the world is waiting –- and will be experiencing?”

First, what is climate change? Lester R. Brown, award-winning environmental analyst and founder of Earth Policy Institute, puts it in the simplest term: “Climate change means the world is being squeezed between expanding deserts from the interior continents and rising seas on the periphery.”

Climate change means land, food, clean water and pure air will be scarce — or gone –- in many parts of the earth.

This means poor and rich countries alike will suffer major hazards: hunger and poverty, diseases like HIV/AIDS, million of refugees and homeless, and armed conflicts for dwindling world resources.

Such calamities would take many years to come. This is not new.

What is new is the pace of climate change. Climate change is fast –- and getting faster every year.

The melting of world ice, which is consistent with the accelerating rise in world temperature that has occurred since 1980, is of great concern to low-lying regions of coastal countries like the Philippines.

Even veteran ice watchers are surprised at how quickly the disintegration is now occurring.

Early this week, the government-owned FM radio station gave a newsflash that an iceberg the size of Singapore has broken off its main body.

In Central Asia, the largest snow-covered mountain ranges is the Himalayas. Other major snow ice mass mountains include the Swiss Alps, the South American Andes, the Alaska mountain ranges, the French/Spanish Pyrenees and the Greenlands’ ice sheet.

Norwegian scientists reported that the Arctic Sea could be entirely ice-free during summer in matter of decades.

Meteorologists have noted that the world’s 16 warmest years have been recorded since 1980. “Each decade the rise in global average temperature has been greater than before. As earth’s temperature accelerates, so does weather-related events: hurricane (typhoon), floods and winter storms.”

The weather-related events include: 1) Hurricane Mitch (1998) -– most powerful storm in the Atlantic with 200 miles an hour winds; 11,000 persons dead and thousands more missing in Honduras and Nicaragua; 2) Hurricane Andrew (l992) which took down 60,000 homes and thousands of people dead with USD 30 billion damage; 3) the first such disaster came in 1983 when Hurricane Alicia struck the United States with USD 1.3 billion in insured losses.

What does the Philippine super-typhoon Yolanda offer science researchers?

One: Yolanda is the world history’s strongest typhoon or cyclone ever recorded. Is this the major effect of climate change, especially in the Asian region?

Two: The Philippines is one of the 10 countries in Asia where the sea level rise is by one meter. Recently concluded research indicates that ice melting is much higher and sooner. The other Asian countries are China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

Climate change observers believe that the Kyoto Protocol negotiated in 1997 to reduce global warming is not enough. Typhoon Yolanda could be a reason to examine again the Kyoto Protocol opposed by industrial countries, particularly the United States. (PNA)