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Climate Change: Impact On Philippine Tourism 

Image by: climatecentral.org

With the United Nations’ COP21 meeting in Paris about to take place, with around 185 nations reported to be attending, we thought it opportune to consider how a rise in sea level, resulting from the estimated 2°C to 4°C increase in global temperatures, may impact Philippine Tourism.

Based on the current pledges by World governments, it is fully expected that the average global temperature increase will be somewhere around 3.7°C . . . assuming all keep to their pledges.

A report just published by Climate Central, a respected US-based research group, uses the same methodology as a recent, peer reviewed, study published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; the Climate Central report suggests that as many “20 million” Filipinos will be displaced (= homes destroyed) in the event of a 4°C global temperature rise. The report focuses on the most easily predictable effect of increased global temperatures: its effect on rising sea-levels. The report does not investigate the probable related challenges to food security, due to the low resistance of food crops to higher temperatures, nor, the commercial and social impact of the loss of currently usable land.

Tourism Spots Affected

Taking a quick peek at some Philippine tourist hubs and population centers, it is easy to see which ones will suffer most and how Philippine tourism could be adversely impacted.

Metro Manila: Mall Of Asia, and the entire reclamation in Pasay City (West of Roxas Boulevard), with its first class hotels and casinos, will be under water with just a 2°C rise in global temperature, as will the U.S. Embassy; a 4°C rise and Manila City would be awash completely, along with the lower reaches of Makati City (West of Osmeňa Highway) and parts of Paraňaque (Nomad Sports Club would become waterfront property); Ninoy Aquino International Airport would be affected by a 2°C rise and half submerged with a 4°C rise – the proposed next-generation airport at Sangley Point would be a wasted investment in either case.

Metro Cebu: Mactan Island (Lapu Lapu City), with its extensive beach resort properties and industrial zones (including the South end of the Mactan Cebu International Airport), would be significantly affected with a 2°C rise in global temperature, as will much of the waterfront areas of Mandaue City and Cebu City; a 4°C temperature rise will basically make Mactan unusable, as well as everything in Mandaue and Cebu to the East of the National Highway.

Metro Davao: Davao City would suffer a similar fate to Cebu City, with low-lying and waterfront areas being inundated with just a 2°C global temperature rise; with a 4°C rise in temperature, downtown Davao City will be completely under water. The bright spot here is that, even if there is a 4°C rise in global temperatures, Davao International Airport would still be operational and able to service the South and East of Mindanao. However, the price of bananas will skyrocket as most of the vast swathes of banana plantation will be inundated, through Panabo City to Tagum City. Fortunately, caving adventures would still be possible in New Corella, San Isidro, Kapalong etc.

Other notables: Boracay will lose its beach at 2°C and would become two, much smaller, islands at 4°C, but the airport, at Caticlan, will disappear whatever; Subic Bay at 2°C will lose little, except that the dolphins at Ocean Adventure may be allowed to swim free, but at 4°C, the main hotel and entertainment areas we know today, between the main gate and Moonbay Marina, would be under water. Puerto Princesa would be significantly affected with any temperature increase above 2°C and would lose many of its prominent tourist attractions, including: Snake Island; and, the St. Paul’s Underground River.

When Will It Happen?

When are all of these changes going to happen? Nobody knows for sure because it depends on how quickly we (Mankind: collectively and as individuals) take corrective action. Current estimates range from 30 years to a few hundred years or maybe never – if we act today! What we do know is that the threat to Philippine tourism (and, housing, farming and industry) is real, and it is our children and grandchildren who will suffer more than us.

What we also know is that sea-levels are already rising in response to increased ocean temperatures – increased ocean temperatures cause the volume of the World’s oceans to increase, just as water in a cup expands when heated. Combined with this, as a result of the increasing global air temperatures, is the more rapid melting of the Antarctic and Greenland (and many other) ice-sheets, which will add vast amounts of water to the oceans.

If you are one of the few remaining climate-change-deniers, read the recent address by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank Of England, at Lloyd’s of London (link below), where he discusses at length the increased risks that human-induced-climate-change will have on commerce, industry and society in general. A conclusion one can draw from Mr. Carney’s words is that the tourism industry, and fixed, near-coastal tourism assets in particular, will become more expensive to adequately insure. Increased insurance costs could make Philippine tourism less competitive, globally, and this would significantly, negatively affect the inflow of foreign currency.

Can We Stop Climate Change

Is there a way to stop climate change and protect our country for our children and our grandchildren? Simply answered: “yes”. We have the ability stop climate change because we (Mankind: collectively and as individuals) are the cause . . . we just have to make the decision and take the action to stop it.

To stop climate change, as detailed in the aforementioned report, we (Mankind: collectively and as individuals) can do three things:

  • we must stop burning fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) for energy production and transport, and instead use the wind, water and the sun as our power generating sources;
  • we must curtail our consumption of red meat, especially beef, and instead eat white meat, such as chicken (any style except fried) plus more vegetables and fruit; and,
  • we must finally take control of our bodies and produce only two children per family.

If we (Mankind: collectively and as individuals) do these three things then we will undo the damage already done and prevent the World from heating itself into oblivion.

To see how your home will be affected if we do not do these three things, visit choices.climatecentral.org website. Search for your home town and the place you would most like to spend you next vacation, chances are that one or the other (or maybe both) will not be around for your children and grandchildren to inherit and enjoy.

If we do three things right today then tomorrow will be a far far better place.

read Mark Carney’s speech to Lloyd’s of London here

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