Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The rains of December

In the Philippines and other tropical Asian climate, the rainy or wet season is from June to October. Before the current climate change, until about 15 years ago or earlier, the wet season would start by May. This year, considered as among the hottest, if not the hottest year over the last few decades, regular rains came only in August, rather late. With delayed rains, regular planting of rice and other food staples was also delayed. So last August, I had wished that the rains would last until December, to “compensate” for the delayed onset of regular rainy season.

Last month and until the first half of this month, rains would come regularly, either induced by some typhoons or a cold front or the clouds just converged by themselves and they became heavy and they fell as rains. And it was a good thing. Many rice farmers who were hesitant to plant for the second cropping were encouraged by those rains and they did plant as the rivers and streams were still regularly replenished by regular rains.

Some sectors or industries of the economy like tourism, were of course a bit unhappy with those rains in an otherwise “cold but dry” months of November-December, until February. Typhoons and heavy rains would naturally result in cancellation of some flights or boat trips, and beaches are not so enjoyable if the waves are big. There were actually fewer typhoons this year, only about 13 so far, compared with the 19 to 20 that the country would normally get annually.

In our farm, I have noticed last week that some light moss or tiny green flora have appeared on the bark of some of our trees there. Those things that one can find in trees on high elevation and colder areas. I did not notice them last year or earlier years, only this year. Does this mean that our farm is getting colder while most parts of the world are getting hotter? Or those flora have evolved and they begin to appear on trees even in lower elevation or in less cold areas as a result of global warming?

I do not know the answer, but I suspect that the rains of the past few months and the colder season of December, have conspired with our now bigger and taller trees which provide refuge and “natural umbrella” from the hot rays of the sun. This is a good development even at the micro or farm level, at a time when the world is getting more pessimistic or alarmist about climate change.