Philippine Oil Spills: Prevention, Response and Rehabilitation

by Robert Leonard Goco

On August 11, 2006, the oil tanker M/T Solar I with two million liters of bunker fuel sank in the strait of Guimaras, just off the coast of Guimaras and Negros Occidental. Five hundred thousand liters of oil were spilt to the sea, affecting large areas of coastline and rich fishing grounds; damaging local biodiversity and livelihoods of many. This environmental and economic disaster was declared by the president as a national calamity and deemed the worst oil spill experienced by the Philippines with its effects still being felt until now and theorized to last for two generations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Effects of Climate Change on Freshwater Ecosystems

Only 1% of the earth’s surface is comprised of freshwater ecosystems (WRI 1999). Lakes, rivers, ponds, streams and wetlands are all freshwater environments (WRI 1999). Climate change has several detrimental effects on freshwater ecosystems, such as “increased water temperatures, decreased dissolved oxygen levels, and the increased toxicity of pollutants“ (Ficke et al. 2007). In lakes, ponds or swamps, climate change can aggravate eutrophication, a pollution problem (Ficke et al. 2007). An increase in temperatures of rivers, lakes or streams, could influence viability of various fish species (Ficke et al. 2007). Cold-water species that are unable to tolerate warmer water temperatures may eventually die out. The extinction of several freshwater species will greatly affect food webs in the ecosystem. Climate change also causes sea levels to rise. Rising sea levels may cause saltwater to intrude into freshwater habitats (Gorder 2010). An increase in salinity will kill many freshwater fish species that aren’t accustomed to higher levels of salinity. Drought is also an effect of climate change in freshwater ecosystems that hinders agricultural production and public accessibility to potable water. Climate change will ultimately result in a shortage of freshwater supply, which is essential to all life forms as drinking water (Gorder 2010). Shortage will cause increase in usable water’s selling price, subsequently raising standards of living further, causing socioeconomical problems.

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Earthquakes

Earthquakes are caused by seismic waves which result from an unexpected release of energy in the Earth’s crust.  They also occur when geological faults rupture, when volcanoes become active and sometimes follow a landslide or a significant explosion. The ground beneath our feet shakes and tremors and it usually suffers significant damage (cracks, etc.) Earthquakes leave a wake of destruction in their path – buildings collapse, roads are destroyed and lives are lost. The most recent earthquake in the Philippines occurred on March 25, 2010 in Mindoro with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Moment magnitude scale. There were no listed fatalities.

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Climate Change as a Concern of the Present

by Maxine Andrea  Garcia

I used to think of climate change as something that was simple and that was in the future. I don’t really remember how this perception was formed but I think it is because of all the movies, the environmental hype and because of heresay. I knew that temperatures were rising and the weather was changing and I thought that that was all to it. Also, everyone around me spoke of climate change as something in the future and thus I never felt any sense of urgency for this phenomenon. The lecture on climate change caused a huge shift in my perception of the topic. I was still stuck at the “prevention stage” thinking that if we do enough for the environment we could prevent it but I learned that this was not the case. Instead, I must now think in terms of delaying and adapting to climate change not preventing it.

Climate change is not anymore a thing of the future but a concern of the present because we already feel some of its effects. We feel the rise in temperatures, the shift in weather patterns, the storms and the droughts and these effects happening now are more disastrous than I imagined. Climate change affects so many factors in our lives besides the weather. It has grave economical, geographical and social implications to our country. Today, the drought is costing us millions of pesos worth of crops. As sea level rises, usable land will get less and less while population is most likely to continue to increase. These effects and many more will of course affect the Filipino people. Homes, lives belongings and livelihood may be lost due to these effects. In order to start dealing with it, we must start to factor in climate change into our everyday common decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Change for Climate Change

by Jeremiah Serrano

Natural calamities. What used to be a rare occurrence is now becoming more and more common as time passes by as result of climate change. We fear that it is coming yet what we don’t realize is that we were the ones who created the very thing we fear. After many years of abusing the environment, we are finally seeing the grave consequences of our actions.

According to the Milankovitch theory, climate change is said to be a gradual process that may take as long as 100,000 years. However, recent events suggest that the process may be shorter than we thought. Many of the contributing factors that affect climate change are due to human manipulation. I have learned that even I am guilty of contributing to the progress of climate change. Everyday, humans burn fossil fuel, convert land areas into cities and cuts thousands and thousands of trees all of which contribute to the accumulation of carbon dioxide which is responsible for the greenhouse effect which is responsible for global warming. In turn, as the Earth warms up, the polar ice caps are beginning to melt away and thus increasing the sea levels. Hence, as a country surrounded by water, the Philippines is in danger of losing a large amount of land area when the sea levels rise. Various cities that are located in the coastline are at risk of being flooded with seawater and worse some may be completely submerged leaving many of our countrymen homeless. However, not only those in close proximity of the sea are in danger, those who are near freshwater sources are also in danger of being flooded. Read the rest of this entry »

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Misguided Urbanization: One Way Trip to Disaster

by Robert Leonard Goco

I came from the city of Calapan, capital of the province of Oriental Mindoro. My hometown was the first city in our rural island, with its city status just approved in 1998. This paradigm shift from municipality to a city made way to slow but steady urbanization of our once quiet and rural community. To give you an overview of our rate of urbanization, our city have recently installed the province’s first traffic lights.  With that, I consider myself one of the few who are lucky (or unlucky) enough to witness the effects of urbanization of a once rural area; its positive and negative effects. I consider myself aware of the drastic changes it does to the environment and people’s relationship with the environment.

Urbanization in my hometown city started at the present city proper, with my barangay spared because it stands too far back where rice fields are still grown. Nonetheless, I saw how urbanization increased of environmentalstress in Calapan. Our main river where my father and his cousins once swam in was now black and murky. Roadside trees were chopped down to make way for the expansion of roads. Vehicles increased to compensate the growing need of transportation, and along with it, cases of smoke belching also increased. Living space decreased which forced people to live in close spaces, leading to greater casualties in the events of fires. Waste production increased and God knows what is happening to our province’s landfills. It is somehow disturbing to know that the local government doesn’t take any measures like recycling centers and waste segregation because there are still no observable problems. The citizens are no exception. It is sad to say but some people only act when it is already too late.

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A Difficult Certainty

by Jill Mary Bautista

Climate change has been an unsolved issue for the past decades. Unfortunately, for most citizens, it is not anything momentous, but rather a trivial matter that is often taken for granted. In the Philippines, climate change had major impacts in the past to which Filipinos have never learned from. A series of catastrophes like earthquakes, typhoons, droughts, mudslides and landslides, has passed but most Filipinos remained to be part of the problem for they have contributed nothing to the solution. I admit I was one of the Filipinos I have mentioned; yet, upon being a Science major, I must say that my awareness brought me to an epiphany. I was never really affected by any disaster in the country that is why whenever there are vital matters on the environment, I did not care much. However, during the Typhoon Ondoy, two situations have stimulated my concern for the Mother Earth: survival of my brother’s family and incomparable concern of Ateneo to the victims of Ondoy. There were just so many Ondoy stories that inspired and made me finally think on why all those misfortunes had happened. This was further enriched when I was given the chance to watch Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Now that we are taking it up again in the Ecology class, the readings we had just once again swept me off my feet. The animation that showed how the Philippines will be a lot different in the future if the climate change persists, which will most probably will, made me think why up to now, I do not see any serious course of action done by the government and the citizens. How come after all the series of calamities, especially in 2009, people remain not to be disturbed? Read the rest of this entry »

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