Disasters repeatedly appeared throughout 2021. Flash floods and landslides occurred in Indonesia, especially East Nusa Tenggara, which has claimed hundreds of victims and lost more than Rp. 24,409,100,000. And also, in another country, an unexpected catastrophe occurred. Extreme rains and storms have caused flash floods in Germany and Belgium. Later heatwaves have resulted in wildfires in Greece, United States, Canada, and Australia.
Flash floods have damaged several settlements in Ile Ape, Lembata, on April 7, 2021 (Photo: BARAKAT)
Scientists have warned of a catastrophic emergence from climate change. The first report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1990 warned of the potential consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions. This phenomenon will cause extreme weather with the sea and atmosphere getting hotter and threatening most areas of the earth. Even climate scientists have predicted that these emissions will cause from 2020-2021 have exceeded scientists' predictions because they came as many and as quickly as more than expected. "I am surprised by how far it is above the previous record," said Dieter Gerten, professor of global change climatology and hydrology at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
When the Sea and the Atmosphere Get Hotter
Global warming also means warming in the ocean. The warmer water in the sea means the more intense the resulting storm, such as tropical cyclone in East Nusa Tenggara last April. As the water warms and evaporates, it will create a swirling cell of rising humid air, falling rain, and raging winds. The warmer the water, the stronger the storm is. Then the warmer atmosphere will make it more "thirsty". A warmer atmosphere will suck more moisture from vegetation and soil. Creates a drought that can result in forest fires.
Erich Fischer and his colleagues' latest research (July 26, 2021) found that this year has broken the records with the biggest margin. They analyzed thousands of years to identify climate simulation and see previous hot weather. Then they found that global warming today is mainly caused by coal, oil, and gas. According to The Conversation, the use of coal, oil, and gas has made the earth warmer and cause more likely it will be for any given location to experience heat waves that are far outside anything human and living beings ever experienced.
Climate change has made a new risk that is a disaster beyond what we have experienced. "People set expectations based on their prior experiences, and this stuff is outside of people's experiences," said Ann Bostrom, a risk communication researcher at the University of Washington for WIRED.
Food Availability Amid the Climate Crisis
Climate change makes disasters come so quickly that it shocked scientists, caught the world's attention, and threatened living beings. A Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) meeting states that climate change has suppressed global food production by 30%.
Challenges to food production systems are only one of the impacts. Based on IPCC reports, changing rainfall patterns will leave many are vulnerable to drought, while extreme weather will make agriculture harder and damage plants. "Increased heat and humidity will harm current crops and livestock, with droughts and floods having the potential to wipe out harvests as well. Massive shifts in agricultural practices, including changes to crops and livestock, would be needed to counter these effects," said Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London.
Climate crisis will be increased poverty, water shortages, food crisis, and soaring levels of migration. GCA chair and former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told Aljazeera, "It [climate change] is happening much, much faster than we think, causing cascading risk and impact. So, building resilience to climate change is not nice to have. It is a must-have."
Facing Disasters Due to Climate Change
We need quick and precise steps in response to the extreme weather by climate change. "Adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now," said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general's special representative on disaster risk reduction
But, how are world preparedness and disaster mitigation efforts now?
It has been six years since the Paris Agreement has been in force, but the disasters that occurred throughout 2021 have shocked the public because of their unpreparedness to face the effects of climate change so quickly. Such as forest fires, flash floods, and landslides that occur in most areas of the world.
In Indonesia, Tropical Cyclone Seroja is one of Indonesia's biggest disasters, specifically East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) in 2021. According to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), this disaster impacts ongoing climate change. "This is something we need to be aware of together; that global warming must be immediately mitigated. Tropical cyclones can become a routine phenomenon every year and will become increasingly dangerous," said Dwikorita Karnawati, Director of BMKG.
Various elements of society also carried out emergency responses to cope with the worse impacts of the floods and landslides in NTT. Including IDEP, which, the day after the disaster, immediately opened donations to help provide evacuation equipment and food for the evacuees.
IDEP with local partners YPPS did aid distribution on April 24, 2021. Thirty-two aids include food, eating and kitchen utensils, sanitation, and masks. Those who received those aids were evacuees who evacuated independently in Elementary School of Nelemandike, Nelelamawangi Village, Adonara.
IDEP also distributes aid and assistance to the community in Lembata. After the disaster, the community evacuated in wooden huts that were previously used to store crops. Luckily, the gardens where they were displaced have entered the harvest period, so evacuees still take advantage of the available corn food. However, sanitation areas and emergency toilets are still not available. Therefore, IDEP and local partner Barakat built a composting toilet at several points. Besides, there is also distribution of food, eating and cooking utensils, sanitation, mattresses, and drinking water.
One of the water sources for evacuees in Lembata (Photo: Edward Angimoy)
Experts said that flash floods and landslides in East Nusa Tenggara occurred due to deforestation, which causes soil degradation. This activity continues, even though Indonesia is included in the top 5 emitters of greenhouse gases. According to the Climate Action Tracker report, deforestation for palm oil production and peatland wildfires contributes to global warming.
Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change
Forest has an essential role in absorbing carbon and maintaining ecosystem stability. Unfortunately, deforestation is still taking place in Indonesia. When our forests are lost, even burned, the opposite impact will appear and be more severe. Wildfires not only produce carbon dioxide it also releases methane and exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, forests also function as water catchment areas, thereby minimizing the occurrence of droughts, flash floods, and landslides. For this reason, IDEP has carried out several forest protection efforts as part of climate change mitigation. One of them was the Learning Forest's inauguration (Hutan Belajar) in the West Bali Forest. The presence of the Learning Forest is not only a learning media but also a conservation area that reflects the harmonious relationship between the environment, society, economy, and culture.
Inauguration of Learning Forest in West Bali Forest, Yehembang Kauh Village, March 20, 2021. (Photo: Utama Wira)
Learning Forest will not exist without local community involvement who help to maintain the forest ecosystem itself. The local community also received assistance related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change. They are slowly invited to become a resilient community, both in terms of food and human resources. Started from assistance in making family gardens, producing post-harvest products, as well as disaster mitigation measures.
Assistance to local communities is also an effort to adapt to climate change. They became independent by obtaining food through gardens, processing excess yields, utilizing organic seeds that were more soiled against climate change, and doing seed saving.
Making Virgin Coconut Oil (VOC) (Photo: Wahyu Permana)
Seed saving allows everyone to be involved in the food system; food sovereignty. In Bali, IDEP is also trying to build community resilience adaptive to climate change through seed saving. Since 2016 IDEP has supported farmers in Bali to produce their organic seeds. One of them makes collaboration with farmers from Pedawa, Buleleng. Farmer is also involved in every training and gets assistance in maintaining their garden until they can produce their organic seeds. They can produce seeds such as long beans, eggplant, basil, chickpeas, and pumpkin. Some of the excess seeds can be distributed by IDEP.
Looking for the condition of farmers' seedlings and seeds in Pedawa, on May 4, 2021 (Photo: Gusti Diah)
When farmers do seed saving, it means achieving seed sovereignty and implementing food sovereignty together. Seed is the source of life. Seed is the source of food. To protect food freedom, we must preserve seed freedom," said Vandana Shiva in her interview with BBC.
Achieving food sovereignty is also one of IDEP's efforts with the community in Sumberklampok village. Together, they were making food forests. This concept will become an example for local farmers who maintained their land conventionally before. Food forest will become a demosite with land management based on climate justice that puts rights, needs, community participation, and ecosystem sustainability as the main considerations. Therefore, IDEP will support the local community in identifying their potential and zone. Assistance is provided to develop nurseries, home gardens, community gardens, composting, waste management, water filtration, and post-harvest production.
Food Forest has become an ideal concept that is trying to achieve climate justice and sustainability. In addition to food sovereignty, the community is also involved in protecting the ecosystem in their environment. Climate crisis forces us to take quick steps in mitigating and adapting, so "Governments must begin taking urgent steps now to build resilience into agri-food systems. This means building soil health, agricultural biodiversity in crops and animals, serious extension work that builds on traditional knowledge, and local breeds and seeds that adequate support for adaptation," said Shefali Sharma, director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.(Gd)
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