Are you in for the challenge?
Last August 16, we were very fortunate to have this nationally and internationally-acclaimed scientist, Geospatial and Watershed Expert, Board member of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP) and part of the Technical Group of the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Esteban Celeste Godilano. His talk was entitled “From Tails to Tales: Scientist’s Perspective on the Role of Communication in Climate Change.”
In his talk, he started by sharing to the audience (comprised of graduate and undergraduate students, and faculty members) the technicals of climate change. He started giving the context by presenting the current situation of the world, and the Philippines per se. Facts and figures were quite alarming, since it mirrors the real condition of the Philippines when it comes to the impacts of climate change.
The Disaster’s Side of Story
Large countries (like America, Russia, etc.) refused to sign the Kyoto protocol and to revert from coal-based power. It is because coal-based power is actually their main source of electricity. But the thing is gases produced by this industry (Slash and burn or the charcoal making industry) are the main players in climate change.
He said that greenhouse gases are anthropogenic sources of climate change. And as the years go by, impacts of it would worsen up to the tipping point, which is a four degree Centigrade increase in temperature.
Climate change is causing us a lot of damage. It affects “agriculture (rice supply shortage), fresh waters, livestock, fisheries (coral breeding), tourism, human settlement, transportation and infrastructure, human health and the economy. And if these persist, national security may be compromised.
Dr. Steeve also shared some of his contributions to further understand climate change- his landslide maps, drought maps, flooding maps, and the recent climate change impact map. In his map, he combined the different themes of climate change such as “rainfall, rainy days, typhoon, temperature, flooding, humidity, cloudiness, growing periods, ground water potential, and biophysical and edaphic factors.” He also had this disaster formula, with elements such as “rainfall, land cover, soil texture, slope gradient, erosion severity.” In short, all the possible efforts were done for the fight against this natural phenomenon. But then, as what Dr. Steeve said, “Nobody listened.”
“All talk. No action.”
“The country laws on climate change and disaster risk management are the best in the world.”—UN
Philippines, with 21 environmental laws (some are Climate Change Act or RA 9729, RA 10121 or Disaster Risk Reduction and Management 2010, Clean Air Act, etc.), the finest in the world, still vulnerable with the effects of climate change. Why?
“Walk the talk.” We lack the first one.
He said that climate change is the “new normal.” We can no longer eradicate totally this phenomenon that we have created. What we could do is to have adaptation and mitigation plans. Dr. Steeve then suggested that there must be a cooperation of the “technological, demographic, biological, societal, engineering” aspects of climate change. He believed that by doing so, they could come up to a more plausible solution against climate change. His other suggestions are the following:
- The need for public access to maps
- Making watersheds as the planning domain
- Relocation for those who are extremely affected both by poverty and climate change impacts
- Database for strategic planning
- Change in pattern of planting crops
- The need to change consumption habit
- Making local knowledge into science-based
- Climate change adaptation and mitigation program (CCAMP) Debt Swap to Geographic and Strategic Adaption and Mitigation Program (G-STAMP)
OUR Job Description
“We must find a solution. This is the essence of stewardship.”
This was how Dr. Steeve addressed the need to take action regarding this matter. Since we are just stewards in this world, then it is really our responsibility to take good care of this land entrusted to us. But as communicators, what is our job then?
It’s now time to take climate change seriously. But how could the people act about it? Here comes the real filling of the gaps. This is where communicators intervene. People could be involved by making them informed of what really is happening to their haven. With information comes empowerment. But with science alone, this information would be of no use if not properly disseminated. The challenge now is how to make the people care, how to make this complex, technical matter be relevant to laymen’s lives.
Are you in for the challenge?