Impacts of Climate Change in Malaysia and the Need to Keep Temperature Below 1.5 Degrees Celcius

An aerial view of flood in Malaysia. Source: The Star

An aerial view of flood in Malaysia. Source: The Star

There are many factors whereby we could be affected by climate change, be it locally or internationally. For instance, outdoor burning which results in haze is a trans-border issue, whereas deforestation for agricultural purposes and cultivation of cash crop; rapid industrialisation, incursion into the vulnerable ecosystem are some of the local factors which build the causal link towards climate change.

Even though Malaysia is not considered to be prone to climate-related natural disaster per se, we were assaulted by these recurring events as of lately. Such events include droughts and floods which have led to severe domestic effects in terms of our socio-economy aspect, and Malaysia, being a tropical country, we are bound to be exposed towards excessive rainfalls which would then result in landslides when it is accompanied by vigorous wind.

Flooding is a serious issue in Malaysia and has continuously affected our agricultural activities. In any event, the water may come and go unexpectedly, and when the level rises, it usually happens quite rapidly before we are prepared to contend with the situation at hand. To exacerbate the flooding further, Malaysia, in the writer’s humble opinion, does not have an efficient drainage system, hence may often time exaggerate the acute flood.

In relation to these flooding incidents, if there are insufficient establishment of adaptation measures, this could easily lead to people having to flee from their home, a widespread of land erosion, deprivation of agricultural food production, as well as the destruction of infrastructures.

On the other end of the spectrum of climate change events in Malaysia, despite the occurrences of floods, drought is also a frequent visitor whereby the rainfall variability is unusually low for a period of time resulting in limitation of water irrigation. This may lead to exhaustion of dam when rationing of water has to be provided to supply adequate water.

More importantly, forests may be highly flammable when it encounters prolong dry weather condition. This situation can be seen in our bordering country i.e. Indonesia, where forest fires happen regularly, especially when they are disinclined to do crop rotation so they would just burn down their crops and move somewhere else. These peatlands, being more flammable than regular forests, coupled with dry weather, may easily spread forest fires if it is not regulated vigilantly. Consequently, this would induce the localised phenomena i.e. haze, which could, in turn, threaten the health of people around the region.

Having said that, there is an absolute need to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celcius above the pre-industrial level, despite the fact that the occurrences of climate-related disasters in Malaysia are comparatively mild in comparison to other vulnerable small island states which would be more susceptible towards the impacts of climate change.

The warming effect has already affected Malaysia on such drastic level, imagine what would happen in the vulnerable nations if we refrain from impelling all member states to cooperate and work towards the 1.5 degrees Celcius target? The burden of climate change impacts is always incurring upon the poor and those who are regarded as marginalised.

These climate-related disasters would definitely impose an irreversible damage on our health, forestry and agriculture sector, food production, economy, and may also form psychological trauma within the people who have suffered from these impacts.

Thus, it is crucial to implement national policies and put adaptation measures in place which are both imperative to manage climate change impacts in different areas to ensure sustainable development of a country.

Written by Choy Moon Moon

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