Prime News – Thursday, 30 March 2006
News Strait Times
Temperatures in Malaysia could rise by up to 2.6 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 with dire consequences for our agriculture, coastal and water resources, and health.
This forecast is based on 14 Global Climate Models that project how a warming world could affect our country through changing temperatures, rainfall, and sea levels. It also forecasts rainfall changes ranging from 30% to +30%
The forecast was revealed in Climate Change in Malaysia, published by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Danish International Development Agency.
GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE
When man made gases are trapped and build up in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface, it makes the Earth warmer than it should be.
These gases carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, water vapour, halocarbons, and halogenated components are collectively known as greenhouses gases (GHGs).
The warming effect of these trapped gases causes changes in weather patterns on a global scale. These include rainfall pattern changes, sea level rise and potential droughts that could impact a host of industries from food production to energy.
- » Oil palm could flourish with higher rainfall. Rubber could suffer loss of tapping days and crop washout. Rice grain yields may decline by 9% to 10% for each degree Celsius rise.
- » Northern Peninsular Malaysia, coastal areas of Sabah and Sarawak are most vulnerable to these changes
- » Low lying planted areas could be abandoned due to sea level rise.
- » On one hand, flood intensity could increase with higher storm magnitude and on the other, Malaysia could experience lower rainfalls that could affect availability of water.
- » More flooding is a worrying prospect because 9% of the land area in Malaysia is already flood prone and as many as 2.7 million people have become victims
- » Forests are important because they serve as a reservoir for carbon. They absorb carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and store it.
- » Threats like forest fires often change forests from carbon sinks into temporary sources of carbon dioxide.
- » Temperature change could affect the ability of wildlife and plants to adapt and survive.
- » The east coast of peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are most susceptible to sea level rise.
- » In the worst case scenario, sea levels are projected to rise 0.9cm a year by 2100. Impacts could include tidal inundation, shoreline erosion and increased wave action.
- » At that level, the fringing mangrove belt could deplete.
- » The sandy shoreline could retreat at a rate of 30% more compared to existing shoreline erosion.
- » Malaysia can expect a significant impact as its tropical weather; high rainfall and temperatures make dangerous combinations for the spread of diseases.
- » Other diseases common to Malaysia could spread wider due to temperature and humidity rise including malaria and arboviral diseases like viral encephalitis.
- » Respiratory related health problems like asthma could recur if prolonged droughts due to weather phenomena like El Nino worsen forest fires.
- » Most exposed to sea level rise are electric powers producing plants as many are located near the sea for cooling purposes.
- » Higher temperature could mean a drop in output and higher production cost at thermal power plants.
- » The performance of a typical 110 megawatt steam turbine will drop by 8% with every degree Celsius rise in sea water temperature.
- » We have a national Climate Change Comitee with comprises representatives from at least 10 ministries and agencies.
- » It has identified sectors that are major contributors of greenhouse gases and promoted energy efficiency among industry, buildings and transport sector.
- » Undertaken a coastal vulnerability index study.
- » Working to assess the vulnerability of various sectors.