Press Release
November 16, 2009

Loren issues debate challenge
on 'apocalyptic' climate change

Senator Loren Legarda yesterday challenged presidential and vice presidential candidates in next year's elections to a debate on their environmental platforms and "on what they intend to do to address the apocalyptic effects of climate change."

Loren warned that climate change threatens the very survival of man, as can be seen from the recent natural catastrophes such as the storms and floods in the Philippines and Maldives and the earthquakes in Indonesia.

"Thus, no candidate for 2010 cannot be without a platform and clear-cut solutions to environmental problems," said the chair of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change who is running for vice president.

Loren said that a candidate who has no platform of government dealing with environmental issues "has no right to lead."

"Only 19 percent of our forest cover remains, resulting to erosion of about 50 percent of our mountains' top soil. Where does the top soil goes? It buries villages at the foot of mountains while contributing to the siltation of our river systems," she said.

The United Nations Champion for Climate Change Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction for the Asia-Pacific region, Loren said that the loss of the country's forest cover results to animals losing their habitats, ultimately affecting forest biodiversity or the number of species thriving in any given area.

She said that with mountains being left bare of trees, low-lying communities are left to the mercy of cascading floodwater and landslides, citing as example the province or Rizal which went underwater during the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy.

Ondoy dumped on Metro Manila a record 340 milliliters of water in a few hours, the equivalent of the average total rainfall for the month, swamping the province of Rizal, and the cities of Marikina and Pasig, among others.

Loren lamented that the pollution of inland waters has been so wanton that, at present, only 36 percent of the country's river systems can be used as water source, in itself a looming crisis as the supply of potable water diminishes.

The senator explained that global warming increases water evaporation and the volume of rainfall, even as it raises sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps.

She echoed the warning of ecological experts that a rise by one meter in sea levels would result to the flooding of 28 of the about 80 provinces of the country.

Loren said that environmental disasters have the potential of becoming humanitarian crises, especially when a nation's leaders do not prioritize climate change mitigation and disaster risk-reduction in their platforms and policies.

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