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South-East Asia vulnerable to climate change

JAKARTA (August 7): Recent bouts of extreme and deadly weather have highlighted South-East Asia’s vulnerabilities to climate change. 

Scientists have warned of of impending extreme heat waves, floods, droughts and storms, but recent events have made it clear that these dangers are not in some hypothetical future, but has already beset the region. 

Unusually heavy monsoon rains preceded the dam collapse in Laos, where the Red Cross estimates that it will be caring for up to 7,500 affected people, reported the Straits Times

Tropical Storm Tembin raged through Mindanao, Philippines late last year, and thousands of households are struggling to recover. 

Will Nichols, head of environment at glo­bal risk analytics and research company Verisk Maplecroft was quoted by the Straits Times as saying that South-East Asia is the region most at risk from climate change, with its shaky infrastructure, crowded cities and economies that are largely reliant on agriculture.

He said: “We know that average global temperatures are steadily ri­­sing year on year.

“These heat waves fit with climate models’ projections of more frequent and severe extreme weather.”

Rising sea levels pose a risk for low-lying coastal megacities, with the level continuing to rise, partly due to melting ice caps and glaciers. 

The Straits Times cites Verisk Maplecroft research, which suggests that the Philippines and Indo­nesia are the most vulnerable to extreme weather.

Wealthier countries like Thailand and Singapore are deemed to be less at risk.

Head of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency, Dr Sutopo Nugroho, is quoted by the daily as saying that extreme wea­ther events are increasingly frequent in Indonesia. 

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