Metamorphosis
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2020 - 12:00am

President Duterte, via Proclamation 316, declared September as “Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month”. Sept. 1 was established by the Pope as “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”.

Thus, Mother Earth’s big splash in the news is timely. As Pope Francis noted, creation is groaning. Researchers from Ohio State University announced last month that the Greenland ice sheet has reached a tipping point, melting faster than projected. It is now doomed to disappear.

Point of no return. We asked Prof. Macky Maceda, Sustainability Director of Enderun Colleges, for his thoughts. “The Greenland ice sheet disintegration is one of nine tipping points that climate scientists have been monitoring for years. Other notable tipping points include the Amazon rainforest dieback, mass coral reef die-off, Arctic permafrost thawing and the West Antarctic ice sheet collapse. The significance of the Greenland ice sheet is that it has enough volume to raise sea levels by seven meters. For perspective, it has an area of 1,700 sq./km. This is roughly five times the size of the Philippines.

At current rates of melting, the ice sheet will fully disappear before the end of the millennium, sooner than previously projected. It is the single largest contributor to the rise of sea levels globally. Hundreds of coastal cities will be submerged worldwide, including Manila.

The tipping point has been reached because the rate of melting now exceeds the rate of ice replenishment by snowfall. As more ice melts and breaks off, even more of the ice sheet body is exposed to the warmer waters. The result is more disintegration. In addition, the amount of solar radiation reflected back to space by the ice (the albedo effect) decreases while the amount of energy absorbed by the darker ocean water increases. This further hastens the melting process.

Scientists fear that the breach of the Greenland ice melt tipping point will trigger yet another tipping point: the breakdown of the natural system of deep Atlantic ocean currents that brings warm waters to Europe from the tropics. The influx of freshwater from the Greenland ice melt changes the salinity at the ocean surface. Less saltwater sinks to join the currents at the lower depths, thus slowing down the engine. The result will be extreme cooling in Europe, possibly triggering another ice age in that region.

In our part of the world, the climate crisis will force us to struggle with rising sea levels, more frequent and stronger typhoons, coral reef die-offs and prolonged periods of intense summer heat impacting our crops and freshwater supplies. Climate adaptation strategies need to be prioritized at the national and local levels with a true sense of urgency. The world is still way off track in meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Time is running out. With every year of record-breaking temperatures that passes, more tipping point dominos will fall.

The New Godzilla. Seven of the top 10 women golfers in the world are South Korean, including world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. South Koreans know their golf. When South Korean fans of the Japan Tour confer the peg upon rookie Yuka Saso for her “monster” game, that’s really saying something.

Playing out of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, Yuka is all adobo and Vice Ganda but is also part Japanese. But it is not so much about her heritage nor the fact that she had just won her second straight tournament as a teen (the two others who have done it went on to become World No. 1 and No. 7). It’s not that she is the fastest ever to break the ¥50-million prize money threshold (after only three tournaments) nor that she is only 19 years old. For sporting aficionados, she is Godzilla because of the way she won and who she beat.

In her NEC Karuizawa victory last Aug. 16, she fired an unheard of 9 under par 63 final round to cement a 4-shot, come from behind victory. At the NITORI Tournament last week, paired alongside world No. 79 Sakura Koiwai, she again displayed poise and confidence in a closing round shootout. She started with the lead and icily kept it until the end.

Making it look easy. These are commanding performances as majestic as Mt. Fuji and as explosive as Mt. Pinatubo. You only see this dominance in once-in-a-generation “phenoms”. Veteran Fujita Saito, one of Japan’s longest hitters, felt like she was playing against a certain Tiger Woods.

The possibilities for Yuka are dizzying. In her own words, she has just begun and her best is still ahead. The coming years will develop skill level, hone experience and calm her pulse. But the learning curve has been meteoric. At the start of 2020, she was ranked 287th. She is now 76th in the world. She is headed for Japan’s largest tournament, the ¥300-million Major Championship Japan LPGA Konica Minolta Cup this coming weekend.

Yuka is the next Filipino world class athlete. She is also well placed to join Japanese compatriots, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka and golfer Nasa Hataoka, on the world stage. Like them, she is humble and all business. No diva, no ego.

Priorities. We raise Yuka on a pedestal because it was National Heroes day. Her brilliance on the course is matched by her magnanimity off it. P27 million in prize money after just her third outing? Poetic. Two years ago, she earned P10.7 million in incentives for team and individual gold at the 2018 Asian Games. Without hesitation, she waived that whole bounty in favor of the National Golf Association of the Philippines for grassroots development.

For the past two weeks, in the Japan Tour where the best in the world compete, our flag has flown because Yuka Saso, a dual citizen, proudly carries the colors of the Philippines. Now that’s heroic.

POPE
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