Polar ice caps in Antartic are said to be formed some 33.6 years ago (Andalusian Institute of Earth Sciences) (www.topnews.ea)

Several million years ago, the earth had undergone natural climate phase. Layers of snow piled up and compressed together forming gigantic layers of ice. 

Scientist gradually studied patterns and sequence of weather conditions in that area.  They invested much of their time generating new knowledge through numerous explorations and research.

Polar ice caps are home to numerous magnificent colorful creatures often times seen in cartoons. Certainly, polar bears and penguins topped the most adorable animals in the minds of the children. Polar animals, as well as its environment, became one of the most interesting fields of study.

However, one of the things they found out is that the disturbance in the natural phasing of the earth’s climate can be felt mostly in the cold region. The effect of anthropogenic activities on climate became very alarming.

Global warming is a natural phenomenon wherein the earth through greenhouse gases, trap sun’s energy and radiating it in all directions and as a result, making the planet livable. Without these gases, the earth will be approximately 30 degrees Celsius colder.

Still, human-induced global warming caused by burning of coals and fossil fuels adds up to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trapping more and more heat eventually making the global temperature much warmer. Due to this, melting of polar ice caps occurs. It is important to note that global warming is a ‘symptom’ of climate change.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had discussed the changes in the behavior of the animals, for instance, the earlier breeding season for birds or forced migration of animals due to inadaptable weather condition. Animals that are not capable of adapting to the new and fluctuating weather condition are very vulnerable to extinction.

It is not only animals that are extremely affected by this abrupt shift in climate. This imbalance creates a lot of negative consequences for us, humans. One of which is the sea level rise. Coastal countries like the Philippines may experience severe flooding.

In one of the plenary presentations of the 17th Science Council of Asia Conference, hosted by the National Research Council of the Philippines or NRCP in June 2017 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Dr. Josefino C. Comiso, a Senior Scientist from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Goddard Space Flight Center proposed several actions on how to combat climate change.

Dr. Comiso pointed out that gradual shift of energy source from coal and fossil fuel to other renewable energy sources like geothermal, solar, the wind, and biofuel can accelerate the recovery of our planet.

In the 2016 Power Situation report of the Department of Energy, our country still gets most of its energy supply in coal power plants but the growing trend to shift from renewable energy is undeniable.

Comiso added that the popularity and potential of new technologies and innovations like smart cars, powerful batteries, cheap solar cells, hydrogen fuel, nuclear fusion, and flywheel storage system can hasten dramatically the shift to a more sustainable future. 

It was in 1997 when the NRCP Division of Earth and Space Sciences (NRCP Division XII) started to shift its focus from mining studies to natural disasters and climate change.  Research programs were veered towards these fields concentrating on mitigating and adapting to the various impacts and its long term effects like the continuous rise temperature, the changes in the period of wet and dry season including the changes in the precipitation pattern, drought, heat waves, intense typhoon, and the sea level rise and tremendous flooding.

Since then, the members of NRCP Division XII who are acclaimed geologists, geophysicists, and meteorologists committed to contributing through various research undertakings in the resolution of the climate change related problems to protect the lives of the Filipino people and prevent the continuous deterioration of the country’s environment.

Dr. Comiso also proposed restoration and resilience strategies, he said that these are not very new but still applicable these days.  Planting trees for one have countless benefits for the environment.  This reduces flooding and landslide as well as sequestering carbon and conserving soil.

A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings (McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December 1993).

Trees are also considered as natural air conditioners. They help stabilize the temperature making the surroundings much cooler by as simple as blocking direct sunlight to a more sophisticated chemical process of cooling.

This is the most basic activity we can do to help solve the problem of climate change. Engaging in this kind of activity as young as possible will help you appreciate more nature and understand the balance and processes of the earth. In addition, there are a lot of health benefits in joining tree planting activities.

Reforestation would also lead to the protection of biological diversity. Rehabilitating the natural habitat of plants, animals, and microorganism reduces the harmful effects of climate change to them. It is important to ponder on that by simply veering away from the people-centric mindset and considering that we share the same earth with the other living creatures will really make a difference.

Human activities, good or bad, create a ripple effect, natural cycles and processes keep the balance.

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