Climate change, and man’s abuse of nature, hits home
posted 3-Sep-2018  ·  
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It used to be that everyone, especially the older Catandunganons who remember each and every supertyphoon that left the islanders’ homes and public infrastructures in ruins, from Trix to Reming and lately, the rare Christmas howler Nina, described weather here as ideal for islanders long inured to the occasional supertyphoons.

While the rest of the country have rainy and dry weather, Catanduanes is fortunate to belong to several provinces which have Type II climate with no fixed rainy season. This meant that even if the other parts of the country endured lengthy droughts, the island relatively suffered less, such that even this paper’s Burabod writer was prompted to describe our climate as “templado.”

The past two months, however, have been far from just right.

From the 175.6 millimeters recorded in June 2018, the July rainfall has fallen by 75 percent to 42.5 mm. Records provided by PAGASA Virac officer-in-charge Juan Pantino Jr. alarmingly show that it did not rain at all at the Virac Synoptic Station since Aug. 12, broken  up only by the localized thunderstorm in the early morning of Aug. 28 which dropped only 6.8 mm of rain. And the total rainfall for the period added up to just 22.9 mm, or an equivalent of 22.9 liters per square meter for the entire 28 days.

It should be noted that the same records as well as data available in the Internet indicate that this meager rainfall is way below the 195 mm for the entire month of August 2017 and is only 14 percent of the 162.5 mm 30-year normal for Virac for the month of August. The normal value was determined in a study of rainfall all over the country from 1981 to 2010.

At the same time, some heads were heating up at the Committee of the Whole meeting of Virac legislators on Aug. 23, 2018, the observed temperature at PAGASA Virac reached its highest ever in history at 37.8 degrees Centigrade at 2 P.M. of Aug. 23, 2018.

As the weather bureau itself noted in its website posting, this temperature right at the station in San Isidro Village is 1.6 degrees higher than the previously recorded extreme on Aug. 2, 1968 at 36.2 degrees.

A scan of the daily temperature readings for this month shows all were above 31 degrees. From Aug. 13, almost all temperature readings were above 34 degrees, indicating that for the last half of the month, hot days have been the norm.

And this suffering from heat and lack of rain is far from over. Although PAGASA experts predict monthly rainfall to return to near-normal levers for the last four months of the year, the chance of El Niño and its warmer ocean temperatures that breed supertyphoons to happen will increase by 68% by the end of the year.

Whatever rain that has fallen this year on this paradise island, with Bicol’s largest remaining forests, has largely evaporated into the hot atmosphere or flowed down to the sea.

It is no secret among the populace that our mountains’ capacity to hold water has been seriously affected by the harvesting of precious timber by a big lumber company and CANARDECO during the Marcos years. In the succeeding decades, this has been followed by the illegal cutting of trees by unscrupulous individuals often with the connivance of some environment and law enforcement officers.

While the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units have been conducting tree planting over the years, these have been far from effective. Seedlings are planted along roads and even below power lines, when they should have been planted in balding mountains. Even past and current government-led regreening programs have questionable accomplishments, with some stained by accusations of irregularities including those implemented in Catanduanes from 2001.

Clearly, we cannot pinpoint the yearly “habagat” alone for the water shortage and the warmer weather. Nor can we blame God for bringing this modern plague upon us for not taking care of His creation.

Unlike the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Virac who would like to verify for themselves the hard evidence behind the calamity recommendation, we all must see the writing on the wall – a future that is Hell on Earth – and begin sincere and determined efforts to save our island and this planet we call Home.

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