HEED WARNING SIGNS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Written by Foon Weng Lian
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 11:45
Since young we have been taught that Malaysia is a land free of any natural disaster except flooding.
However, the recent episodes of mini-tornado or land/water spouts as defined by the Meteorological Department of Malaysia suggested that we need to seriously look into the paradigm shift that is occurring in our weather system.
In Pendang, it tore off the roofs off about eight houses and uprooted trees, lamp posts and electricity cables while in Pandamaran, 30 houses were damaged, tore off the roof of six apartments, uprooted trees, damaged signboards and sunk several boats.
Although the mini-tornado that we saw in Malaysia was nowhere near the size of tornado that we saw in other parts of the world, it should serve as a wake-up call to all Malaysian about the importance of adaptation to climate change.
According to the recently published Research Report by Climate Central, Malaysia is one of the 20 most at-risk countries on exposure to sea-level rise and coastal floodings due to climate change.
In the report, it says that Malaysia has spent nearly US$2.6 billion (RM8.5 billion) last decade adapting to more frequent floods. This is evident as we can see the flood in the East Coast of the peninsula has become an annual norm.
These disasters, facts and figures are a preamble on what is in store for coastal communities in Malaysia especially in the East Coast of the peninsula and Sabah if we are not serious in finding ways to adapt to the impact of climate change.
We have seen no specific measures in terms of policies, laws or education of the public to adapt to the impact of climate change despite the present prime minister has made a pledge back in 2009 to
reduce its carbon dioxide emission up to 40% by the year 2020 compared to the 2005 levels subject to assistance from developed countries.
Although we are a relatively safe country that is free from natural disasters compared to our Asean neighbours, our weather system still highly influence by the monsoon season.
Major flooding in the northern and southern region of the peninsula in recent years has left substantial damage to the local citizen life and the trend is predicted to be continued.
According to the recently published IPCC 2013 Climate Change report, exceptional rainstorms are “very likely” to become more intense and more frequent over mid-latitude countries and the wet tropics.
The area encompassed by the monsoon systems is likely to increase over the 21st century, and monsoon rainfall is likely to intensify. The monsoon season is likely to lengthen in many regions.
The episodes of tornado and more frequent flooding in Malaysia have gave us a harsh lesson and inconvenient warning that we are truly running out of time and we must walk the talk now instead of pointing fingers at each other during all the climate talks.
Make emergency response plan a must-have drills at all community level in order to face any natural disaster that is caused by the weather uncertainty nowadays so that the damage will be minimised.
Weather forecast system must be improved and upgraded in order to be able to provide the most accurate information to the people even during the worst weather.
We hope to put the plans and agreements into concrete actions. Without specific and legally binding plans of action and playing the waiting game, the governments of the world meeting every year will or may already have sold the future generation to uncertain and perhaps grave repercussions.
Heed the warning sign and act fast with solid action plan instead of just getting away with lame excuses such as water or landspouts.
* Foon Weng Lian is the secretary-general of Water and Energy Consumer Association of Malaysia.
- See more at The Malaysia Insider