After the torrential rains that pummeled Metro Manila and nearby provinces a few weeks ago, we are back to hell. Literally.
The full effect of the El Niño phenomenon is now hitting us, with heat indexes in Metro Manila ranging from 39 to 44 degrees Celsius in the past few weeks, according to Pagasa.
And at Casiguran, Aurora, Pagasa logged a 60-degree Celsius heat index. This falls under the "extreme danger" level, where there is an increased risk of heat stroke.
With the upcoming resumption of face-to-face classes later this month, parents are sure to be concerned about their children enduring extreme heat inside their classroom.
I remember Biñan City, Laguna Representative Len Alonte’s suggestions to find “climate-resilient” solutions to the problem of extreme heat inside classrooms as an alternative to “airconditioning” classrooms.
Here’s what may be an “unpalatable” fact: airconditioning units not only contribute to increased electricity demand, they also actually contribute to the high temperatures we feel outside.
As far back as 2019, an article in the Guardian, a United Kingdom-based newspaper, highlighted the paradox of airconditioning: "As the world gets hotter, scenes like these will become increasingly common. Buying an air conditioner is perhaps the most popular individual response to climate change, and air conditioners are almost uniquely power-hungry appliances.”
And as the demand for airconditioning increases, so does the heat they generate, which – ironically – contributes to the extreme temperatures we feel outside. Or, as that Guardian article stressed, “Warmer temperatures lead to more air conditioning; more air conditioning leads to warmer temperatures.”
Here’s a suggestion for local government units, all the way to the barangay level: why not mandate planting trees or plants inside residential or industrial lots?
We’ve all heard of programs initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units to plant trees in forested and rural areas – but what about in urban areas where people are more exposed to higher temperatures due to urban infrastructure?
Last year, I had lamented in this column how some streets here in San Pedro City have been virtually stripped of greenery. That means that walking down the street, especially in the middle of the day, can turn into a hellish nightmare.
Added to this is the fact that some road-widening projects, especially in our provincial roads, had resulted in trees being cut down with no obvious replacement.
By contrast, a factory near our subdivision, which has had one side (the side next to the street, fortunately) given entirely to trees, always seemed to be cooler even during the summer months.
Isn’t it high time for us to re-focus our “regreening” efforts and give more emphasis on planting trees and other plants in our urban areas, which are more affected by extreme temperatures?
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