Rising Sea Levels: A Consequence Of Global Warming
By Digoy Fernandez IN my last post, I took a swipe at the callous indifference of many urban dwellers who view trees as pesky leaf shedders or as green fodder that must be cut down whenever and wherever. While a single tree felled by a villager may seem to be of no consequence in the worldwide scheme of things, the fact is that we don’t only have a few trees going down each year. Countless numbers of trees are felled or burned down to make way for concrete or new planting ground. The earth’s greenbelt is fast fading, and the carbon sink that these trees are, fail to make up for the increasing amount of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere. Last Sunday, during our regular weekly breakfast meeting of friends from our village, our soon to be retired high official from the ADB mentioned that their agency recently had to reassess their environmental programs because of alarm bells being sounded by their European counterparts. It seems that these agencies are truly worried about the effect of rising carbon levels and the effect these have on the melting of glaciers and the big snowy areas like that in Greenland. The net effect, of course, has been a steady rise in sea levels from 2 mm – 3 mm a year. A seemingly insignificant figure, once again, but truly alarming when one considers that the sea has risen by about a meter since turn of the last century. And the pace is picking up rather than slowing. In practical terms, rising sea levels would mean flooding of many parts of Metro Manila, especially those that were low-lying swampy areas to begin with. At least a third of the Metro area would be under water, with pressure to go inland toward the mountain areas. Now, those mountain areas have been much abused in the past until the present, with clear cutting resulting in denudation and the lack of topsoil and decent forest cover. Increased inland migration would put further stress on these already fragile and overdeveloped habitats. A substantial number of our 7,100 islands would probably go under for good, and provide good coral reef starting habitats. Good for the fish and other sea-life forms, bad for us. People who live in coastal areas and who make a living from the sea will be forced inland, and will have to adjust accordingly. The many creatures that find their beginnings in the mangrove and riverine areas will probably take another generation to replenish themselves as their old habitats end up in deeper waters. To think that the preservation or planting of a single tree can make such a difference, especially if millions of people all over the world thought the same way!
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