‘”Heat stroke break” is shorthand for daily 30-minute “time-outs” that Metropolitan Manila Development Authority authorized Monday. Blistered by the sun, traffic cops to street sweepers may dash for the shade in shift.
Temperature peaked at 35.2 degrees celsius on April 3. That’s no “heat wave” — yet, Pagasa says. To qualify, temperature should ratchet “3 degrees higher than average for 3 consecutive days.”
That hairsplitting meant nothing to an MMDA traffic cop who keeled over due to heat stroke. MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino vowed he’d not abide a repeat. US Marine Corps and Dubai use heat stroke breaks, he said. US Institute of Occupational Safety and Health studies document “occupational illnesses” stemming from sustained exposure to heat.
Will others follow suit? Despite brief showers, the mercury won’t ebb soon. Peak of summer comes last week of April. And while clouds form mid-May, rains fall towards end of that month. Knock on wood.
Tote an umbrella or cap when sallying forth, a Pagasa official suggests. “ Five years ago, summer temperature ranged from 30 to 32 degrees celsius. Because of global warming, summer is hotter every year.”
Baguio is no longer cool, President Benigno Aquino groused during the Team PNoy rally at Burnham Park. “You knew you’ re near [Baguio] when you smelt the pine trees. Mountains were full of flowers…” That’s past tense.
Half a world away from Baguio, former World Bank chief economist Nicolas Stern an told International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington of “climate change way outside human experience.”
Effects of climate change were unreeling faster than he forecast in 2006, he admitted.. Without radical changes, the world “has roughly a 50 percent chance that temperatures will soar to five degrees celsius above pre-industrial averages in a century. We haven’t seen that in about 30 million years.
“When we were at three degrees centigrade three million years ago, the sea levels were about 20 some meters ( 65 feet ) above now. On sea level rise of two meters, a couple of hundred million people would have to move.”
Rising sea levels could uproot 13.6 million Filipinos levels in 2050, Asian Development Bank estimates. in it’s study: “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific.” We ranked fifth globally in “ number of individuals” :that’d driven by rising seas.
Three typhoons in as many years lashed once storm-free Mindanao This lethal combo triggered coastal flooding. Most affected were communities, with surging populations, housed in low-lying coastal zones and eroding riverbanks.” Strengthen resiliency of local governments , ADB urged. And “use migration as an adaptation tool rather than let it become an act of desperation”.
Set that in the context of a thawing western Siberia. An area about the size of France and Germany combined — is melting for the first time since its formation 11,000 years ago. That could release billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’d be “a tipping point” that’d cause global warming to bolt, economist Stern said..
Half a world away from Aquino’s Baguio and IMF’s Washington is arguably the coldest place on earth: Antarctica’s Roosevelt Island. For seven years now, University of Wellington scientists have been drilling in a $9.2 million project. For what?
Ice cores. That’s what. “Each is slightly longer than a baseball bat”. They record sediment that formed recently thousands of years back. . “The ice records our climate’s past and could point to its future”. .
Antarctic ice shelf remained relatively stable despite having lost ice in recent decades. Under the current warming rates, how long will theRoss Ice Shelf hold before crumbling into fragments?
“West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise sea levels by between two meters ( 6.5 feet ) and six meters( 20 feet) if significant parts of it were to collapse, ,” said Nancy Bertler of the Antarctic Research Center. “From a scientific point of view, that’s really exciting. .From a personal point of view, that’s really scary.”
Fish sizes are scary too. They could shrink by a quarter as their metabolic rates alter in warmer seas, says Dr Walter Cheung of University of British Columbia. “Most fish populations will edge towards cooler earth’s poles, probably at 36 kilometers per decade” — leaving Filipino fishermen with empty nets.
“In the Philippines, rice yields slumped by 10% for every 1C increase in night-time temperature,” BBC’s environment reporter Richard Black wrote earlier. Can we reach rice self sufficiency, stop costly imports and sustain first promising exports of “fancy” rice?
Valued at $100,000, this rice was shipped .to Hong Kong, Dubai, and the US “as a long term entry tool to global trade”, explained Agriculture Secretary Secretary Proceso J. Alcala. Exports of Mountain Province upland varieties are planned ,September –October.
“All over Asia, rice yields rose as farming methods improved”, a National Academy of Sciences journal reports “:But rate of growth slowed as nights have grown warmer.” Indeed, temperature increases more than 3C… are stressful to all crops assessed and to all regions”. the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.
Will today blistering summers becoming routine for our grandchildren? And what will they do to their food shelves? That underpins those ‘”heat stroke breaks”.