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First Environmental Science Symposium held

Symposium participants pose for a picture in front of the NIP building.

(June 6)–The effects of global warming and climate change were front and center when the University of the Philippines Diliman hosted the first National Symposium and Workshop on Environmental Science from May 7 to 8 at the National Institute of Physics Auditorium.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Josefino C. Comiso, Senior Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, warned that aside from the melting of the polar ice caps and the subsequent accelerated rise in sea level, other changes have been happening because of global warming.

The increasing carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere also led to a decrease in the pH value of the world’s oceans, suggesting that they may be becoming more acidic, he added. Carbon dioxide, when dissolved in water in large enough amounts, yields carbonic acid.

Comiso said the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by the phenomenon, and the rate of warming here is slightly higher than the global average of about 1ºC per century.

He also said that the higher frequencies of extreme events (such as typhoons, landslides, drought and fire), heat waves and changes in the onset of different seasons have been observed.

“Ironically, although the contribution of the country to greenhouse gas emission is a very small percentage [as opposed to] of those from the more advanced countries, it is one of those most vulnerable to climate change,” Comiso stated.

The symposium was organized by the UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, the School of Environmental Science and Management and the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Environmental Science.

The event aimed to “engage experts and stakeholders from the scientific community, government, industry and other non-governmental agencies in a technical exchange

Some 150 participants from the all over the Philippines (and some from abroad) attended the symposium

Fifty presentations, both oral and poster, were also made at the conference, with topics ranging from improvement on existing marine policy to the assessment of greenhouse lettuce life cycles.

The highlight of the meeting was the formation of a “national research agenda on environmental science, which would be drafted from a series of workshops covering vital cross-cutting issues in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and the sphere of human culture.”—AKR