Climate Change and the Green Revolution
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 25, 2010
The documentary film "± 2 ℃" documents climate change on Taiwan. It was filmed last August in the wake of Typhoon Morakot. Yesterday, five months later, it premiered in Japan. Government and business leaders attended in droves. The major media provided full coverage. The presidents of the five Yuan attended. Heads of major industrial firms turned out. This film was a sensation, and raised hopes for those concerned about environmental issues.
The documentary "± 2 ℃" was Taiwan's version of "An Inconvenient Truth." The documentary explores global warming and climate change from Taiwan's perspective. People on Taiwan will be among the first climate refugees. We hope the film will teach the public and the government the importance of environmental protection.
Global warming is an old problem. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Panel (IPCC) believes that a two Celsius degree rise in global temperature poses a threat to mankind's survival. If the temperature drops two Celsius degrees, our children and grandchildren may survive. The documentary touched off a new wave of concern for global warming on Taiwan. But besides being emotionally moved, how can the public and the government confront the problem and take effective action?
According to newspaper reports, when President Ma Ying-jeou presided over his Chinese New Years gathering in the presidential palace, he expressed concern over the climate change addressed in the film "± 2 ℃." President Ma urged staffers to implement energy-saving and carbon reduction measures. He urged them to save energy, water, paper, and oil, and work together to save the planet. Non-governmental environmental groups however have been critical. The government has asked the public to save energy and reduce carbon. But the Taiwan Power Company is still rushing to build power plants everywhere. The government continues to give priority to industries such as the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Company and major steel producers. The environment is under assault from massive construction projects and deforestation. Based on public and private sector reactions, we remain in the "concerned" stage. We have a long way to go before we actually implement concrete energy conservation and carbon reduction measures in our daily lives.
The Taiwan region has an island climate. It has the second highest population density in the world. Many are forced to live in places unfit for human habitation. Add to this rapid soil erosion and frequent typhoons. Taiwan will not escape a string of predictable disasters caused by global warming.
Climatologists have warned that global warming is a growing problem. Between 2020 and 2037, the polar icecaps will probably disappear. The sea level will rise six meters. Under the circumstances, people on Taiwan, in Vietnam, Bangladesh, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean will become the world's first climate refugees. Coastal plains on Taiwan lower than 100 meters above sea level will become uninhabitable. Chiayi Tungshih, Pingtung Linbian, Tungkang, and Yunlin Mailiao will be inundated. Next to succumb may be the Taipei Basin, Kaohsiung, and Lanyang Plain. If sea levels continue to rise, the next group to be impacted will be the river delta regions mentioned in the 2009 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report. The most endangered regions on Taiwan are the Lanyang plain, the Taipei Basin (Taipei) and Kaohsiung City.
Last year, during Typhoon Morakot, Mount Ali accumulated nearly 3000 millimeters of rainfall. Scholars estimate that if half of Typhoon Morakot's rainfall had fallen on the Shihmen Reservoir, the dam might have burst. Two or three hundred million tons of water would have inundated Sanxia in Taipei County, Tucheng, Banqiao, and Xinzhuang. Taipei City and Taipei County would have become a veritable "Waterworld." By that time, the Taipei 101 Building would have become a isolated island in the midst of raging waters.
Global warming is worsening. Heavy rainstorms are more frequent. Due to its topography, the prospects for Taiwan are grimmer than for Mainland China, Japan and other regions of Asia. In the future, typhoons will become more frequent and more powerful. Rainfall will become more extreme. Severe droughts are followed by heavy rains. Heat waves are followed by frigid winters. Soil erosion on Taiwan is increasingly serious. Morakot will not remain an isolated case.
Faced with such catastrophes, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Group has asked all governments, including the government of the Republic of China, to invest in a massive green revolution. At this critical moment, we propose that everyone write a letter to the President, urging him, as the leader of the nation, to save our nation, save our children, and fulfill our responsibilities to the global village. He must elevate climate security to the level of national security. The legislature is considering a greenhouse gas reduction act, to be known as the Climate Security Act. The bill will implement global warming measures. The national budget should also be re-allocated. In particular, the budget for national defense should be allocated to green energy, and vice-versa, increasing our investment in green energy. A comprehensive review of energy-consuming industries must be conducted. Only such measures will truly address the issue of climate change