Global Warming: The Maritime Dimension

Mountain range illusion above Metro Manila (view from Bacoor Cavite)

In the 107th Maritime Breakfast Forum held at the DOTC at Columbia Tower, Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City, the Department briefed the participants on the APEC Transport Ministers meeting held in Cebu a few days earlier than the APEC Summit.

Well, after the meeting, a small group got to talking about Climate Change (a major topic of the Summit itself), and we had some very interesting discussions. And this reminds me of a “spectacle” that awed me a week after the 107th Maritime Forum as I started my daily commute from Dasmariñas, Cavite enroute to my office in Makati. I was awed at seeing an illusion of a large mountain range above Metro-Manila as I crossed the boundary of Dasmariñas and Bacoor City along Molino Road that I decided to take the above picture at about 6:15 AM.

Only, it was not so. It was rather an atmospheric inversion, the environmental issue that many decades ago plagued Los Angeles and Detroit (among other cities in the U.S.), a phenomenon worldwide still prejudged, correctly I might add, to be contributory to the many causes of Climate Change.

I recall that the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in the early part of the last decade found 3 serious findings:

  • Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history;
  • This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth; and
  • The environmental security of humans on earth – their degree of freedom from harm and from harm to their economy and society associated with ecological events like flooding, soil movements, and drought – has been greatly diminished.

The problem for most of us will be the shortage of fresh water, yet the problem that most coastal communities will face is the loss of habitat, which media just
highlighted in the case of Thailand just before we welcomed the New Year 2016. Global warming is expected to cause the reduction of the polar ice caps
to continue, and would we reach a tipping point that would make such phenomenon irreversible?

The world’s oceans and forests are absorbing less of the CO2 released by human activity, resulting in a faster rise in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessments.

As a constant watcher of the Philippine coastline, I sense just a tad of the problem reported. As a former naysayer that is still half-convinced, I am nevertheless bothered by all reports, and, just like the propensity to disregard the population issue in direct relation to the traffic situation in developing countries (as in our Metro Manila case), I must express support for reducing the “unequivocal” effects of man-made Climate Change.

As a maritime practitioner and student of the annual weather patterns, I am likewise alarmed at the change in the intensities and characteristics of weather systems that now prevail, a drastic change in the patterns previously shown by the annually published (by NAMRIA) Philippine Coast Pilot.