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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews) — The temperature has been abnormally high for weeks now. This is a phenomenon we have not experienced in recent memory. This could already be a heatwave from the combined effect of global warming, El Nino, and the summer season.

The heat dries up rice fields and such water sources like shallow wells, creeks and brooks; scorches crops and downs farm animals due to dehydration and scarcity of feeds.

The heat renders people less productive because it makes them lethargic and easy victims to certain illness. Hence, it threatens the food security of the country. Not only farm crops are adversely affected by the smoldering heat, but also fish harvest from the sea and fish farm. Fish move to cooler area away from the net of sustenance fishers when coastal waters experience unusual warming. Increasing water temperature in fish farm, on the other hand, stunts the stock; thus, harvest may be delayed and output reduced. High water temperature reduces dissolved oxygen, too, and may cause some fish kill.

In this sweltering heat, it is not remote that bushfires may just flare up in grass and forest lands, razing to ashes everything in its path. Bushfires are often attributed to kaingineros, upland farmers who practice swidden or slash and burn farming.

But, most wildfires are actually caused by spontaneous ignition of light materials with very low kindling temperature, such as extremely dry grass, leaves, and twigs. It only needs a dew at the tip of a blade of grass to have wildfire. The dew becomes a lens, like a magnifying glass, that when struck by the light of the sun, starts a combustion. Any transparent broken glass may also cause spontaneous combustion when rightly hit by the sun.

In the western US, particularly in California, wildfires are a regular calamitous disaster that often cost lives and heavy damage to infrastructures and properties.

If ever such costly disaster is not happening in the country, it is simply because wildfires here occur in remote areas away from human settlements.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental)


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