Bohol Philippines and Global Warming

By Joe Espiritu

     Last month, spring tides rose up to its highest level, 2.0 meters. This means a rise of 2 meters above the average mean low level and mean high level. This month, the highest tide level is 1.9 meters. To an observer, this is not unusual, nobody actually measured the rise. All those tide readings come from the calendar and the actual sea level may be higher. Seawaters did flood some of the downtown streets of some southern Bohol towns. Luckily, the southwest monsoon winds did not act up and if they did, the sea would be blown farther inland.

     Southern Bohol towns have located their downtown areas on the level space near the sea. At present only those houses built near the shores will be affected by the rise and fall of the tides. In some places erosion had set in driving the dwellings inland. The northeast trade winds and the southeast monsoons had pushed the rising tides upwards that houses near the shore were destroyed by the waves. In some towns in nearby Cebu, people living near the shore were asked to take precautions and sure enough, some houses were washed away by the waves.

     Northern Bohol seems to have an advantage, though population centers are situated in low-lying areas, they are not duly affected by the northeasters nor the southwest winds. The gradual rise of the seabed would prevent the waves to rear up abruptly. However the sea water would penetrate farther inland and the backwash would be more damaging than the inland surge. In southern Bohol where the shoreline seabed rise more steeply and the angling sweep of the waves generated by the northeastern trade wind and the southwest monsoon slams more forcibly, fragile shoreline dwellings would be in danger of being washed out to sea.

     Then comes the global warming. Factories of the industrialized countries of the world, and there are many of them spew up thick carbon dioxide and monoxide smoke from their smokestacks. This plus smoke from forest fires create a carbon dioxide layer to the upper limits of the atmosphere preventing earth heat to be dissipated into space. The retained heat melts polar ice causing the sea level to rise.

     Land areas of low lying Central Pacific nations .like Kiribati and Nauru whose islands had been mined for potash are about to go under. A few tens of centimeters more rise of the sea water would threaten the existence of those countries, if the global warming continues. After half a century, the sea had eroded many of the southern Bohol seaside houses. Beaching areas of fishing boats, once fifteen to twenty meters away from the high water mark are now under seawater. .

     Another one meter rise of the present sea level would be disastrous. Most dwellings and farmlands in the seaward side of the Bohol Circumferential Road, those near the shore or in reclaimed areas will be in danger of being washed away. Even parts of the highway will be eroded. Island towns and barangays will disappear beneath the waves. With the accelerating rate of global warming plus erosion another half a century more will accomplish the catastrophe.

     In Bohol, what are we to do? There is nothing to do but pray, those who know how. In spite of several international conferences on global warming, factories of industrialized countries, the most powerful countries in the world still emit smoke. Should those manufacturing plants stop, their economy will grind to a halt. General unrest will follow. Unfortunately those countries rely much on fossil fuel like coal and petroleum products. Perhaps someday, geothermal, hydroelectric and nuclear sources of energy will replace fossil fuel. But that will be the day.