Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taiwan remains oblivious to climate

Chen Meei-shia, the director of the Taiwan Association for the Promotion of Public Health and a professor of public health at National Cheng Kung University, in the Taipei Times: …What Taiwan desperately needs … is more in-depth analysis and reflection of global warming than can be offered in media reports. Global warming has not only caused the earth’s temperature to rise, it has also caused various negative environmental effects like extreme climate change, ecosystem imbalance, rising sea levels, salinization of coastal areas, the destruction of water resources and decreased grain production. It has even had a negative impact on human health. Floods, typhoons, hurricanes, droughts and higher temperatures have resulted in physical injuries and even deaths.

The increased spread of various types of microorganisms and bacteria have caused a higher incidence of food poisoning and water contamination; changes in the relationships between the host, the vehicles for germs and pathogens have given birth to new and reoccurring infectious diseases such as dengue fever, swine flu, schistosoma — otherwise known as blood-flukes or snail fever — and malaria. An increase in the number of allergens has caused a rise in the number of people with allergies. Pollution of the air with noxious gases has increased the incidence of respiratory tract problems and various types of heart disease, while decreased production of grain has caused problems such as malnutrition, disease and starvation.

Global warming is mainly caused by the large amounts of fuel, natural gas and coal used by humankind and the destruction of forests. We use fossil fuels and destroy forests primarily to produce large quantities of commercial goods.

…[I]is Taiwan prepared for global warming? No. We do not reflect on the mistakes we have made, nor do we take action to combat global warming as other nations have done. The lives of most Taiwanese are based on the aspiration to and an obsession with consuming large amounts of products. The government’s policy is also obviously centered on economic growth:

…If capitalist societies do not change their mainstream social values of production, profit, consumption and economic growth, the problem of global warming will only get worse. Taiwan has to get involved in the international anti-global-warming movement. However, before this, Taiwanese desperately need to be introduced to and educated about global warming. Taiwanese people, industries and the government must get away from blindly pursuing consumption and eliminate misconceptions about economic growth. We need to care for the Earth, gain a deeper respect for the environment and take an active role in its protection.

Satellite photo of Taiwan

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