We are climate criminals – Fortich

Engr. Anianita R. Fortich, Senior Weather Specialist and the Officer-in-Charge of Mindanao Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Regional Services Division (MPRSD), during the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Talks or DRRMx said, “We are all climate criminals.”

Engr. Fortich said that Climate Change was defined by two internationally recognized organizations – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

According to IPCC, Climate Change is a change in the state of climate over time due to two factors – natural processes and human activity. On the other hand, UNFCCC defined it as a change in the state of climate over time due to human activity, directly or indirectly. With those definitions alone, humans are already judged.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are natural in nature. They are very important for the survival of humans and other living things on earth by keeping the Earth warm. CO­2 is just one of them. Gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons are also GHGs present in the atmosphere. However, CO2 is the most abundant. According to UN, CO2 is about two-thirds of the GHGs. That is about 81% of a pie. In the article of the Guardian, a United Kingdom-based news and media organization, entitled How Long Do Greenhouse Gases Stay in the Air, the lifetime of CO2 could be from twenty to thousands of years. That is way too long when compared to other GHGs like methane and Nitrous oxide that have 12 years and 114 years respectively.

So, where are the human fingerprints in the crime scene? CO2 is produced through burning of fossil fuels, solid wastes, and trees. For fossil fuels alone, humans are very dependent. In the Philippines, the country’s Energy Plan 2009-2030 is to accelerate exploration and development of oil, gas and coal resources to ensure energy security. There are even plans of putting up coal power plants in Palawan and Mindanao according to the report of Renee Juliene Karunungan of Rappler.com. Solid waste has always been a problem. We just don’t see children but also adults throwing plastics anywhere. Urbanization and kaingin deeply hurt Mother Nature as there are many trees burnt than planted. CO2 is also emitted when making cements and we all know how much cements we used to have a better road and house to the point that we even cemented our vacant loans.

Engr. Fortich said that we contribute to climate change because we conduct activities or use machines that add up to the GHGs, particularly CO2. Its drastic increase started during the industrial revolution when humans started to use cars for transportation, use electricity to light homes, and cut trees to build cities.

We cannot deny the fact that we are enjoying the perks of the industrial revolution. We have to accept that everything we do contributes to global warming because it is only through acceptance that we can correct our mistakes. We need not to understand the science behind Climate Change, we just have to love and care for our only home – Earth.

Project Development Officer II