WASHINGTON — Since the 1997 international accord to fight global warming, climate change has worsened and accelerated — beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.
As the world has talked for a dozen years about what to do next, new ship passages opened through the once frozen summer sea ice of the Arctic. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost trillions of tons of ice. Mountain glaciers in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa are shrinking faster than before.
And it’s not just the frozen parts of the world that have felt the heat in the dozen years leading up to next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen:
— The world’s oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.
—Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.
—Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests.
—Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997.
President Arroyo has named herself chair of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTCC), which she reorganized to make it more effective in implementing measures to mitigate the effects of global warming in the country.
Mrs. Arroyo issued Executive Order 774, dated Dec. 26, 2008 but announced at Malacañang only on Wednesday. Last week, she named herself the anti-narcotics czar to curb drug abuse and trafficking in the country.
In her EO, she said climate change will have “catastrophic effects if immediate and sufficient action to curb industrial emissions and forest loss is not taken.”
“While our country’s emissions remain much lower in per capita terms than those of industrialized nations, our country’s recent growth and development have been accompanied by a rise in damaging emissions from fossil fuels,” the President said.
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DAVAO CITY — Excessive rainfall has been wreaking havoc in Eastern and Northern Mindanao for weeks. Casualties have been increasing and was already in the mid 20s at the weekend. Economic opportunity loss should now be in the billions of pesos if estimates would include disruption in private business operation.
The calamity should be a wake-up call for local government units on the island whose priority in spending excess funds from internal revenue allocation has been largely confined to making their towns look good through a new municipal hall, a modern public market and a bus terminal complex.
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