I've seen firsthand the effects of climate change in the Philippines and am committed to being part of the solution.
Leonardo DiCaprio warned us about the 11th hour while Al Gore disclosed An Inconvenient Truth, but do we really feel the connection between us, the environment, global warming, and climate change? Do we feel responsible for what is happening in the world today, and do we really believe it in the first place? Is there real worry among ourselves that the globe is actually warming, the climate is changing, and our planet may really be dying? Or is it too distant a concept and, though it may be real, it is something we are not party to?
In the Philippines, however, the effects of climate change and global warming cannot be denied.
The Fading Away of Distinct Seasons
There used to be a clear delineation between the dry and wet weather, or summer and rainy months, as we call them. January to June have always been known as the dry months while the rest were the wet months. Summer, or dry, in the Philippines meant hot, sunny days, perfect for going to the beach or walking in the park or flying a kite in the fields. Temperatures are quite high, with the highest temperature in the Philippines registered at 39.3°C—and in metro Manila, it has been really hot at 37.3°C. Feverish, you might say, and in fact, it is. But this is also the season for beautiful flowers to bloom.
Wet months, on the other hand, were characterized by typhoons, windy days, and suspended classes. During wet months, sunny days are unusual and unexpected. Most rainy months are August to November, while December towards February are cool months with a few showers, a nice transition from the very wet to the very dry weathers.
Nowadays, however, the wet and dry days occur any time in the year. Some undeniable changes are seen during the Lenten Season, which is traditionally the hottest days of the year. In recent years, however, we have experienced rainy days during the Holy Week, a sure sign that the climate is indeed changing.
Similar changes are also felt during Christmastime. In the Philippines, where Christmastime begins at the onset of the “ber” months (yes, Christmas carols are played everywhere during September 1!), Christmas breeze is looked forward to and definitely savored by everyone. Recently, however, this breeze has become elusive, and summer-like days are experienced even just before Christmas. Moreover, it is not unusual to experience a scorching hot morning and a heavy downpour towards noon. This has no doubt presented some complications to travelers and to the fashion conscious.
What Can We Actually Do About Global Warming and Climate Change?
You might ask: What causes global warming, and what are the solutions to climate change? Millions of articles, both academic and otherwise, have been written about it. But the more important question is: What can we as individuals do to help fight climate change?
While you are waiting to trade your car to a Prius or change the heating system of your house, here are 10 tips on how to fight global warming and climate change.
1. Save Power by Unplugging Appliances That Are Not in Use
A plugged-in electrical appliance or equipment still uses 25% of its usual power consumption. This act not only helps save on electricity, it also gives you some financial savings.
2. Use Natural Lighting Whenever Possible and Turn Off All the Lights That Are Not in Use
There are many establishments that pay a lot to install blinds, tints, or shades, only to spend a lot again on lighting. Why not use natural light by installing clear windows instead? It saves on power, saves on costs, and allows you to get a feel of the outside world even when you are ensconced in your office.
3. Walk Whenever Possible
Walking (or biking) gives a multitude of benefits. It saves on fuel, does not give you stress from traffic, does not give you headache from trying to find the perfect parking slot (and remembering where it is!), and is good for your health.
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4. Save Paper by Printing Only When Necessary
A ton of paper helps preserve approximately 17 full grown trees. How much paper have you used lately? See the flash floods in the news? It might be because of all the paper you have printed on!
5. Separate Your Waste
Studies show that a significant portion of solid waste is food waste that can be composted. Aside from this, there are also environmental groups who collect batteries, used cellphones, and the like for proper disposal.
6. Use Your Own Personal Cups and Tumblers Instead of Plastic Cups
Plastic cups take a loooong time to completely degrade (if they ever do). And while they are so convenient to use, they are really not helpful in preserving the Earth. Besides, a Starbucks mug or tumbler is much more fashionable to use.
7. Whenever Possible, Use Surface Water Instead of Deepwells
Deepwells are only used when there is no surface water available. There is a logic to this, and it is because exhausted aquifers will replenish only less than 1 meter per year—that is, if there was space for it to absorb runoffs. In a much urbanized city where every inch of earth has been covered by concrete, therefore blocking any possibility of absorption, this regeneration rate is close to nil.
8. Always Turn Off the Faucet When Not in Use
Didn’t Mommy always tell you to turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth? Leaving the faucet running for one minute alone amounts to about 9 liters of wasted water. That is not only an utter waste of precious resources, it also jacks up your water bill.
9. Always Check Your Faucets for Leaks or Drips
Think of a water leak as an ever-running faucet. A small water leak could waste as much as 90 liters of water a week. If you can afford it and if your home’s design permits it, consider exposing all your water pipes for easy leak detection in the future.
10. At Least Once in Your Life, Plant a Tree
Many flash floods happen as a result of denudation. Just think about it. All the metropolis and central business districts used to be filled with trees in the past—then urbanization happened. Trees improve water quality because they slow and filter rainwater. They also protect aquifers and watersheds. Most of all, they provide shade, making the immediate effects of global warming tolerable.
You Can Be a Part of the Solution
Global warming and climate change are both real. And just like everything else that is happening in the world, we can all be parts of the solution. One tiny step can be very significant towards the ultimate goal. You matter!
Note: All photos by Ones Almario using a Canon DSLR camera and lens.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.