Lina Tagusi, 55, slices poisonous wild yams for a meal, T'boli, Cotabato, Philippines. Since the extreme drought struck farmers have been subsisting on food foraged from the forest. Since October 2004,the country's worst drought in 50 years has affected around 700,000 people.

Climate change is real and happening right now. Its reality can be seen in melting ice, dying coral reefs, rising sea levels, changing ecosystems and prolonged and more severe droughts. According to the World Health Organization, 150,000 people are already dying every year as a result of climate change. It is for this reason that the world needs to take action now before our planet becomes damaged beyond repair.

The impacts of climate change in Asia include: sea-level rise flooding low-lying areas; an increase in flooding from heavier rains; severe droughts in arid areas; an increase in cyclone intensity; threats to agriculture and aqua-culture; freshwater at risk; and the spread of diseases.  Every year for the past 20 years, an average of over 400 million people has been exposed to floods in Asia.  Between 1987 and 1997, 44% of all flood disasters worldwide affected Asia, claiming 228,000 lives (93% of all flood-related deaths worldwide).  Economic losses in that decade totaled US $136 billion.

In China, floods in 1998 and 2003 cost US$30billion in economic losses, claimed the lives of over 4,000 people, displaced over 3.5 million more and caused widespread crop destruction. In other areas drought affected 90 million people and 6.8 million head of livestock and ravaged 7.7 million hectares of farmland.  Research shows that yields of China's staple crops - rice, wheat and maize - could fall by up to 37 %.


In India, record temperatures in May 2002 of 45.6oC claimed more than 1,000 lives in the state of Andhra Pradesh alone. Floods in the eastern state of Orissa in 1999 killed thousands with many villages being washed away. To India's north, the temperatures in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, s    oared to 47oC during Jun    e that year.

In Japan, in 2004 a record ten typhoons hit Japan, two within 10 days: after Meari and Ma-on came Tokage, which was the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in 16 years and left the largest number of people dead and injured since 1983.

In the Philippines, towards the end of 2004, four typhoons and tropical storms caused widespread destruction, killing over 1,000 people and injuring over 1,000 more; making 53,000 families homeless without access to clean water and destroyed over 10,000 hectares of farmland.


And across the Indo-Pacific, corals are bleaching and dying threatening whole reef systems as water temperatures increase.Never before has humanity been forced to grapple with such an immense environmental crisis.  It is ironic that the countries least responsible for creating this problem - the developing countries will be the most adversely affected by climate change. These are countries with fewer resources and weaker economies, therefore, will face a greater challenge in adapting to climate change.  We have a responsibility to act against this problem and do so now.  If we do not take urgent and immediate action to stop global warming the damage could become irreversible.

The Solution for Climate Change

Since burning fossil fuels is the main source of greenhouse gases, we need to decrease our dependence on oil as our main energy source.  Solutions to this problem already exist: renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Nature offers a variety of alternative options for producing energy.  In combination with widespread energy efficiency measures, renewable energy derived from a variety of sources such as wind, wave, solar and geothermal provides an efficient, reliable and environmentally-sustainable way in which to generate the energy we need on the scale that we need. Wind is the world's fastest growing energy source with installed capacity growing at an average annual rate over the last 5 years of 15.89%.  Wind power can provide more than twice the expected world energy demand in 2020.    On the other hand, the total amount of energy irradiated from the sun to the earth's surface is enough to provide more than 10,000 times the annual global energy consumption.      Implementing these solutions will not require humans to make drastic sacrifices or otherwise impede their quality of life.  Instead, it will enable people to usher in a new era of energy, one that will bring economic growth, new jobs, technological innovation and environmental protection.

To protect the planet from climate change, we must phase out fossil fuels the sooner, the better.  No less than an energy revolution is required.  Combined with energy efficiency, renewable energy is the positive, genuinely sustainable alternative.

For more information on the impacts of climate change visit the following links below:

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