Filtered By: Scitech

How the Mindoro Oil Spill can affect our fight against climate change

The Mindoro Oil Spill has been ravaging our seas since the MV Princess Empress sank near Oriental Mindoro on February 28, 2023.

That the oil spill is heading toward the Verde Island Passage, which is at the very center of biodiversity, is alarming.

But that is only part and parcel of the widespread damage the oil spill can and has caused.

On the Howie Severino Podcast, marine conversationist Robert Suntay also pointed out another kind of harm the oil spill can inflict: our fight against climate change.

"Mangroves are really critically important, pati na 'yung seagrass kasi they absorb of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Sila na nga 'yung tinatawag ng 'the lungs of the planet'," Suntay said.

"Namamatay sila because of the oil. They suffocate," he added.

According to Suntay, the oil currently wrecking havoc in our marine environment "is very hydrocarbon infused. The oil is very heavy and very sticky. Ang hirap linisin. Talagang dumidikit sa bato, sa coral, sa buhangin, sa seagrass, sa mangroves," said.

In Oriental Mindoro alone, some 533 hectares of mangroves have already been affected by the oil spill. Imagine the repercussions of this in our fight against climate change.

Mangrove cover is important in addressing climate change because they are super efficient in sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere. Meaning: Mangroves can help Planet Earth cool down.

According to scientists, the removal of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the most urgent and most important thing to do if we are serious in limiting global warming to 1.5C, as set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Currently, we are already at 1.1C.

Still, there is more that mangroves can do. Apart from helping mitigate climate change, mangroves can also help in adaptation measures. They protect coastline communities from extreme weather events, like storm surges and sea level rise, that are happening more and more because of climate change.

"Mangroves are also important for minimizing erosion, absorbing tide surges and they're nurseries for small fish. So kung mamatay sila, 'yun magka-cascade effect 'yan. Seagrass, coral, mangroves, no fish and then, kasama na rin tayo," Suntay continued.

Back in 2021, the Department of Energy began looking into the potential of mangroves in managing carbon dioxide emissions.

That the Mindoro Oil Spill is affecting our mangrove cover is no good news. According to a February 2023 report on "24 Oras" by Raffy Tima, Severino Salmo III, UP Diliman Institute of Biology associate professor, said the Philippines is second in terms of lost mangroves in the ASEAN region, with mangrove areas going down from 500,000 in 1918 to 240,824 hectares in 2010. — LA, GMA Integrated News