Wednesday, July 04, 2007

If there's global warming, where's the rain?

Two weeks ago, I posted a discussion entitled "Climate Change and dry June". I complained about the lack of rain for the month of June. Until a few years ago, when June comes, it's usually a wet-wet month. And until about a decade and a half ago, "wet season" in the Philippines and other tropical places officially starts on May. Back then, rice farmers were busy plowing their fields by May to start planting rice.

I've been into part-time farming for the past 15 years. And I try to be observant of weather pattern, like when the regular rains will start, when they will end, how sizzling summer is, how big and tall are our trees to give us natural umbrella from the sun's scorching heat, and so on. And I can say that this year, or at least last June, in terms of dryness and lack of rain, is the worst. It's now early July and I feel that the temperature and weather is like March with occassional clouds hanging up there that don't fall.

So this is climate change and global warming. I can personally agree with this. But it puzzles me, or perhaps I just forgot my high schoo earth science, but I ask myself this question and I can't seem to figure out the answer. If the earth is getting hotter, then there are lots of water evaporation, then there are lots of rain clouds up in the sky (I see them often especially during afternoon), and yet the clouds don't fall as rain, so where do the excess evaporated water go?

I read in the news that recently, heavy rains pounded and flooded southern Britain; also Pakistan and India, and before that Indonesia, etc. This could be the answer. Too much water evaporation elsewhere, and too much rain somewhere. Could it be that some of the excess water up in the sky escape to the atmosphere? It does not seem probable because of gravity.

Meanwhile, I see that many rice farmers, especially those who rely on rain for irrigation, complain of the lack of rains. Poverty incidence should increase in the coming months, when many lands are idle, food production is delayed while food consumption is increasing due to sheer population growth and momentum.

Up in many mountains in the country, poaching and cutting of trees, including small trees, by many poor people in public forest land continues, even worsening. Well naturally I guess. If you can't plant rice and other crops because of lack of rain, or in some cases, your crops are wiped out by too much rain and flash flood, and your family is getting hungry, the easiest way to find food and money is go up the mountains. Cut trees for firewood and charcoal, or for poles and housing materials, sell them, you have money. Then chase reptiles, birds, wild pigs and other animals in the mountains -- slowly converted from forest land to grassland because of annual cutting and burning -- and you have food for the family.

What is the government doing, the "owner" of 53 percent of the country's total land area, the public forest land, to protect the forest? Good question. On some cases, you will see them doing something good. But on many cases, you will get a bad answer: nothing. You will likely read in newspapers and see on tv, government officials, police and military generals, leading in various "tree planting" activities in many parts of the country every year. But you will seldom or never see them guarding the forests from endless poaching and cutting by hit-and-run rural poor.

If the rainy season is delayed, I just hope that the rainy season once it starts, will be extended. Hopefully until November and December. We may have a wet Christmas, but at least it helps the agriculture and food production sectors of society to produce more food.

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