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Aurora vulnerable to sea rise – climate change expert

Manny Galvez (The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2016 - 10:00am

BALER, Aurora, Philippines – This coastal town located in a horseshoe-shaped valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean is susceptible to rising sea level due to climate change.

The warning was raised by Jonathan Moises Jadloc, chairman of the climate change committee of the Philippine College of Physicians Foundation (PCPF), who said that the province was hit by a tsunami that wiped out 500 families in 1735.

“Aurora is definitely vulnerable to a rise in sea level, particularly as it lies within the Pacific Ocean. We have seen it during Typhoons Lando and Sendong,” Jadloc said, adding that a similar threat is faced by both Manila and Cebu.

He said a one-meter rise in sea level could engulf 112,000 hectares and sink Manila and half of Cebu.

Citing a study by the National Astronomical Service Agency (NASA), Jadloc said a 6.7-inch rise in sea level occurs every 100 years.

Jadloc and his colleagues from the PCP led the planting of 1,500 mangrove saplings with local fisher folk, students and environmentalists along the coastline of the fish port in Sitio Cemento, Barangay Zabali recently to strengthen its shore and set up a barrier against tsunami and storm surges in the face of global warming.

Aside from serving as buffer against storm surge, mangrove forests are a spawning ground and habitat for marine animals and migratory birds.

The activity was part of the climate change caravan, held quarterly by the PCPF that also supports and pushes for laws that advocate environmental protection. The foundation was formed by the PCP, an umbrella organization of internists in the country founded in 1963.

From 20 pioneering members, it now has 5,000 affiliate members of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) with 22 regional chapters, eight of them in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Apart from climate change issues, the PCPF’s advocacies include healthy lifestyle, exercise and anti-smoking.

Jadloc said global warming has been the primary cause of sea level rise abetted by melting ice and glaciers. He said that over the last century, sea level has risen twice as fast as in the previous 100 years.

Last March, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje revealed that sea levels at the country’s shores have risen more than 14 millimeters per year, or five times more than the global average of only three millimeters per year.

Coastal communities are at risk of higher sea levels due to more frequent and destructive storm surges during the onslaught of typhoons.

“If Greenland’s ice sheets were to melt completely, sea level all over the world will increase by 16 to 23 feet or by five to seven meters,” Jadloc said.

Jadloc said the Pacific Ocean, whose weather system swarms over Aurora and this capital town, is where the Great Conveyor Belt runs through, referring to a current that brings warm water to the Atlantic Ocean.

This is believed to also warm Europe during winter to curb falling temperatures and the worsening cold.

“However, with more sea ice and glaciers melting, the salinity and acidity of the water change in this area. While it is being impressed that this might change the current, scientists are looking that somehow, this shouldn’t cause deadly freezing temperatures in Europe,” he said.

Jadloc told environmentalists here to help increase food production by returning moisture and nutrients to the soil and add moisture to the air, which can increase rainfall and help combat famine-producing drought.

He said that protecting nature would provide food, medicine, wood products among others, adding that clean air for the community will help prevent climate change and global warming.

Jadloc said since September 2015, the PCPF has been delivering lectures on climate to college students, medics, residents, consultants and church laity.                                 

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