HEADLINES

People cause the hastening of climate change, says UN scientist

Ray Chen S. Bahinting | Editor-in-Chief

UNITED NATIONS marine scientist, Dr. Hilconida Calumpong, calls upon the people and the government to heed the warnings of scientists to start acting upon climate change.

“We cannot reverse climate change; but what we can do is we should not be denying what is causing all of these,” said Calumpong, who is also Director of the Silliman University Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences.

She said the use of fossil fuels, bad farming practices and burning or incineration that emit gasses to the atmosphere are the leading causes of climate change.

“These activities [are] hastening the changes in our atmosphere and that is really what’s causing climate change,” Calumpong added.

She said the increase of heat is logarithmic, meaning from 10 to 100 to 10,000.

She added that Earth’s temperature has already increased, and if the average annual temperature reaches 2 degrees (Celsius) higher, it will become irreversible.

“It would be like in a car nga closed ang window nga nagkainit then magkainit,” Calumpong added.

Carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses, she explained, are small particles that form a very thin film around the Earth just like a glass. So when the sunrays hit the Earth, heat—a long wave radiation—bounces back from the film and all the heat goes back to the Earth.

When returned to Earth, all the heat will be absorbed by the ocean causing its temperature to increase. If the  temperature of the ocean is altered, its circulation also changes so does the wind patterns, she said.

Calumpong said the ocean drives the wind patterns that cause typhoons.

“For example, if you go 30 degrees North of the Equator, kanang hangin going north brings moisture. If it goes back from the 30 degrees, it brings all that moisture and didto na niya ibundak dapit sa Equator that is why we are called Tropical Rainforest. Mao ng 30 degrees above the equator, naa didto mga desert kay wala naman silay ulan,” she explained.

However, due to temperature change in the ocean that causes change in wind patterns, the presence of ocean-caused phenomena such as typhoons becomes unpredictable, stronger and more extreme, Calumpong added.

“We are working very hard to reduce the temperature of the Earth,” she said.

One way to reduce Earth’s rising temperature is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, said Calumpong, who was awarded by the province as Outstanding NegOrense 2017 in the Field of Science and Environment.

“We should really look for alternative sources [of energy] such as wind, solar that do not use fossil fuels.”

“A lot of governments are still not heeding the warning of the scientists that, indeed, we should really do something fast.

“People are now realizing, with the presence of more cyclones in the US and in Europe and even in the Philippines, that the pattern has changed,” Calumpong added.

“So I think we should heed the science of the environment.”

Asked whether the Earth will heal from all the destruction it faces today, Calumpong responded: “The planet lives on but whether humanity will live on with the way we are abusing the planet, I really do not know. But I hope so.”

Calumpong, an expert in marine botany who earned her Ph.D. from University of California Berkeley, is one of 25 scientists tapped by the United Nations to study the state of the world’s oceans and prepare the first World Ocean Report in 2015. The UN has adopted the Report and provides for the continuing monitoring of the oceans.

As marine biologist, Calumpong urged the people to “treat the ocean like family.”

“You protect your member of the family; you have to protect the ocean.”

Calumpong explained that the ocean is dependent on what the people do.

“If there is no people, then the ocean can have its natural evolutionary cycle. But because we are doing something to the ocean, we are actually hastening the changes.”

So the changes in the ocean that happen every 30 million years before are now happening every 30 years, Calumpong added.

“People should know that the ocean and the people are all living together in this planet.

“There is a limit as to what the ocean can give. We take for granted the air we breathe, the ocean and the water.

“But they are actually reacting to what we do.”

“The ocean gives you food, oxygen and water. But generosity of the ocean is not infinite.”

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