|Attendees and participants of the BAR seminar series listen to the lecture on climate change.|
“Be worried, be very worried” warned Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, professor and dean of the School of Environmental Science and Management at University of the Philippines Los Baños (SESAM-UPLB) as she lectured on “Climate Change in Agriculture; Impact and Adaptation” at RDMIC Bldg., Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City on 26 February 2009.
This was the first of the seminar series for 2009 organized by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR). Attending were 80 participants from various attached agencies and staff bureaus of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and private sector – the largest audience so far since the bureau started conducting the seminar series. Welcoming them was BAR Asst. Dir. Teodoro S. Solsoloy who stressed the significance of the activity and its impact to the agricultural R&D community.
The world has gotten warmer, revealed Dr Espaldon while enumerating observations and evidences that scientists were able to monitor since the issue of “global warming” came about including intense and longer droughts, increase in temperature and decrease in precipitation, increase in sea surface temperature, and frequent heat waves, among others. According to her, carbon dioxide is among the essential greenhouse gasses (GHG) that keeps the earth’s temperature balance. However, excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air makes the earth warmer resulting to the “greenhouse effect”. In the long run, the increase of average global temperature can lead to changes on other weather and climate elements, such as winds, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness or “climate change”.
|Dr. Maria Victoria O. Espaldon, dean of SESAM-UPLB, serves as the resource speaker for the seminar on climate change.|
Alarmingly, these climatic variations can have adverse and diverse effects such as reduction in agricultural yield leading to increase in competition for food, decrease in the availability of potable and irrigation water due to droughts, increased risk of flooding, and frequent occurrence of forest fires to name a few. But Dr. Espaldon said that, with proper mitigation and adaptation strategies, the adverse effects of climate change can be reduced.
During the seminar she mentioned various mitigation measures to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as using renewable energy like solar, wind, biomas, tide, and hydro. She also cited Filipinized mitigation strategies which she dubbed as “Solusyong Pinoy” such as the use of corn and sugarcane as biofuel (ethylene), coconut and jatropha for biodiesel, methane from dumpsites for biogas, and using bicycles as transport alternative.
For the adaptation measures, Dr Espaldon enumerated some adjustments in practices, processes, or structures on the systems that could eventually be adopted in the projected changes of the climate. On the terrestrial ecosystems and forests adaptation, she suggested biodiversity and forest conservation activities, efficient use of forest resources, prevention of forest fires, development and trials of better adapted and fast growing plants, rehabilitation and protection of degraded lands.
Meanwhile, for the fisheries sector, she cited close monitoring and surveillance of fish stock, and proper management and sustainable use of marine resources while combination of crops for intercropping and crop rotation to enhance productivity, diversification, integrated pest management, improved land management, traditional agriculture, and agro forestry and judicious water management in irrigation as essential adaptation strategies.
She also mentioned the use of drip irrigation system, a water saving technology that delivers water through a pipe distribution network consisting of a main pipe, sub-main, manifold and lateral pipes under low pressure and emission through small outlets of drippers or emitters into the soil, surrounding the crop to be irrigated. This technology can be used on any crop, soil, and topography with limited water supply condition.
Concluding the seminar, she said that “Climate change affects not only the welfare of the earth’s ecosystem, but also our health, livelihood, social systems and economy. The impacts will be felt for generations to come, thus we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find ways to adapt to new realities of a warmer world”.