Global warming is “global” for a reason. While there is sometimes a tendency to focus in on the bigger stories, or the effects that hit close to home, this is multinational. Every sea is heating up and rising. Every region is struggling with sustainability and urbanization.
Species are disappearing on every continent. The region of Southeast Asia is no different. This biologically diverse, beautiful area is now struggling with issues of increased pollution, poor resource management, and species and habitat loss.
Like many regions, Southeast Asia is currently experiencing increased urbanization.
It is a natural response to a growing population in need of urban housing and a desire for modernized living. Areas with increased populations and urbanization run the risk of overcrowding, unsustainable living practices, and pollution.
Increased emissions from transportation, congested infrastructure, energy consumption and light pollution are all concerns. At the same time, residents are consuming more food and goods, depleting resources. Then solution here relies on the attitudes of both local authorities and the individual citizens.
Sustainable development policies and green initiatives can help to reduce the impact of a city. It is possible through improved city planning, an improved response to consumption and the use of green energy. On a personal level, residents educated on the impact of urbanization may enhance their habits.
The issue of increase air pollution is particularly troubling in Southeast Asia.
As things stand, the region currently has some the worse cases of air pollution. The situation is not as bad as that in East Asia, where smog and traffic emissions plague major cities like Beijing. There is still a risk from increased traffic on these new road networks and increased burning of fuel.
The additional problem in this region is the use of fire to clear land and work on farms. Farmers view this as a necessary practice for the development of their livelihood, but the smoke creates hazes and air pollution. In the worse incidences in the region, these hazes can have a detrimental effect on the lives and productivity of a city.
Countries that turn against this practice are the ones that will see the best improvements. Funding and subsidies should favor toward those with zero-burn policies.
Increased urbanization and the problems of slash-and-burn farming also lead to concerns over deforestation.
There is only so much space for these cities and farms to develop, and this means that nations sacrifice the forests. Vast areas burn to make way for agriculture, palm oil plantations, and other resources. These nations have now seen significant areas of vital rainforest destroyed for economic gains.
Often, those involved overlook the importance of such zones for the narrow-minded goal of a single product or profit. Forests provide homes for a diverse range of animals, they help to absorb carbon dioxide, and they provide botanical aids and medicines.
Take away the forest, and we take away these benefits. The issue of carbon dioxide absorption is especially important when we consider the increased emissions from those growing cities. This is a tricky issue to combat, as there is such a need for space. Still, it helps to find more sustainable methods that can contribute to protecting the forest as much as possible.
With increased deforestation comes concerns over the conservation of endangered species.
There are animals and plants in the region threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat. Destruction of these areas can displace species and leave them with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. Replacing native tree with palms doesn’t help.
Images of orangutans trying to escape fires are heartbreaking to environmentalists trying to save this distinct relative. Furthermore, there is the risk of poaching and hunting of some of the other major species of the region. It includes the Asian elephant, Javan rhinoceros, and Sumatran tiger.
It is now feared that over 40% of all plant and animal species in Southeast Asia could become extinct in the 21st century. Conservation efforts are essential in the fight for these creatures. Reserves are in need to provide the habitat and protection they require. Anti-poaching patrols can help to protect those that are vulnerable. In addition to this, nations need further education provision to advise and change attitudes.
Of course, it is not just the forests in need of protection in Southeast Asia. There are also concerns over marine life and the destruction of coral reefs.
Many tourists come to the region to dive in the oceans and enjoy the sights of the reefs. The islands of Oceania contain the most biologically diverse environments around. It is set to change if the beaches are not protected.
Damage and coral loss has a devastating effect on the life that relies upon it. Rises in water temperature and acidity kill coral and other species. In addition to this, the areas are over-fished, further weakening the delicate ecosystem.
Fishers also damage reefs due to methods such as blast fishing. Again, the solution here is all about a change in attitudes and practices. A ban on blast fishing and an understanding of the importance of the reefs is essential. The region needs to understand the value of the reefs as tourists destinations and protect them.
It also means ensuring that drivers do not take specimens home with them. Locals can also support fisherman and restaurants with policies on ethical, sustainable fishing.
Finally, there is the issue of water security.
The world has now come to the point where we consume fresh water almost as fast as we replenish it. Many poorer regions have inadequate access to clean water at all. It is a problem that is apparent in Southeast Asia, where water sources are in serious trouble.
The region once relied on the mighty Mekong as a source of water for cleaning, drinking farming, fishing and more. The source comes from glaciers up in the Himalayan mountains, which are now disappearing. To make matters worse, China has dammed the river and manipulated it, with severe repercussions on poorer nations.
Much of the fresh water that remains is heavily polluted. Water pollution ‘s hard to overcome, but small-scale local initiatives can help. As for the problem of the melting glaciers, it is hard to understand a solution if the rate of global warming doesn’t decrease.