At the height of the mild El NiÃ±o being experienced by the country, Congressman Rene Relampagos, First District Representative of the Province of Bohol, called for strengthened environmental consciousness among Boholanos.
â€œWe are now experiencing one of the effects of climate change.Â Â Although this is just a weak El NiÃ±o, we have to assess ourselves how ready are we for this,â€ said Relampagos.
The discomfort brought by the increased local temperature, in the words of the solon, â€œis just a tiny aspect of the big picture.â€ He emphasized that the threat on Boholâ€™s water supply and food security is what Boholanos should fear.
â€œWe cannot just underestimate the El NiÃ±o we have right now.Â Â An El NiÃ±o is still El NiÃ±o, even if we say itâ€™s mild.Â Â This dry spell may still decrease our water supply and affect agriculture and jeopardize food security in the province.â€
Climate Change in the Philippines
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Philippines ranked among the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.Â Â In fact, the Global Climate Risk Index 2015 of environmental organization German Watch, which was released in December 2014, listed the Philippines as the country most affected by climate change in 2013.Â Â It should be noted that it was the year when super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to make landfall in recorded history, hit and devastated the Eastern Visayas region.
Agriculture is the most susceptible industry to the dangers of global warming and for an agricultural country like the Philippines, climate change can bring drastic results especially to those who are dependent on this livelihood to meet daily means.Â Crops may not be able to survive both poles of weather severities as they are usually sensitive to temperature changes.Â Â Droughts, like the one we are experiencing, may affect irrigation by drying up water sources while strong rains may cause flooding in fields, damaging, or worst, destroying what would have turned out to be harvestable produce.
Increasing ocean temperature and ocean acidification intensifies coral bleaching, affecting marine ecosystems, which ultimately will lead to decreased catch for fishermen.
Aside from livelihood, climate change threatens food security in the country.Â Â Worst, the decreased yield in agricultural and marine production might make prices of food very steep, considering increasing population, making food less affordable for low income families.
Awareness is the Key
â€œEnvironmental education has become a need for all of us at this time,â€ Relampagos, who chairs the House Committee on Tourism and a member of the Committee on Agriculture, asserted.
He added: â€œWe need to educate the people regarding environmental issues.Â Â We need to be partners in assuring that we are able to adapt with the changes in our environment.â€
Relampagos emphasized how environmental education helps in ensuring the preparedness and resiliency of both the individual and the community.Â Â It also empowers Boholanos to take part in developing programs for environmental preservation and in contributing to the provinceâ€™s goal of attaining sustainable development.
â€œI can just overemphasize how important it is for the Boholanos to be aware of what we are experiencing now and what we can experience in the future.Â Â Awareness is the key. Educating or re-educating our people is not just making them know and understand the environmental problems we are facing now.Â Â It is more of getting them to act upon the problem.â€
The congressman encouraged municipalities and barangays, especially those who live in areas prone to environmental threats to come up with education drives and information dissemination campaigns to inform their constituents.Â Â Moreover, he also urged the local government to enact policies and device programs that will further strengthen existing legislations and programs.
â€œWe boast a number of environmental laws and programs, both in the national and provincial level.Â Â Here in the province, we even have a Bohol Environmental Code.Â Â But itâ€™s a different story when these laws are mainly on paper.Â Â They need to be observed and it begins by educating the Boholanos on the existence and the contents of this legislation,â€ the first district representative explained.
â€œThis way, we can assure ourselves that we are informed, we are ready, we are resilient, and we are actively participating towards safeguarding our environment.