Climate change and global warming are two of the hottest topics in discussion today (no pun intended). There are prominent voices on both sides of the fence—those who believe it’s a manmade disaster occurring right now, and those who feel the threat is overblown. But as divers, it’s impossible to ignore that our planet is changing, and it’s horrific imagining what would happen if we were to lose our one and only home.
Hello PH! is a travel company that enables amazing travel and dive holidays in the Philippines, but we realize our business will flourish thanks to a deep love for the oceans and our environment. So we want to add our voice to others out there that are speaking out about climate change.
Hello PH! believes that the threats of climate change and global warming are real. We also believe that human activity is a significant factor causing the trend of warmer temperatures.
How does this matter to you? Well, the ocean absorbs 30% of all the world’s carbon dioxide. Higher amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – from the burning of fossil fuels for example — mean more of this chemical is absorbed by the ocean, raising temperatures gradually and causing changes that alter the sensitive, natural balance of marine life.
As divers, there are two main concerns we come face-to-face with as a result of climate change. The first is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is what happens when corals are placed under stress, usually from increased water temperature. This change causes the corals to lose their symbiotic relationship with the algae that live on the corals and which give the corals its fascinating colors. The corals don’t just turn white, they cannot survive without the algae and will die if the balance is not restored quickly enough.
We witnessed mass coral bleaching in the Caribbean in the 80’s, and just recently Australia’s Great Barrier Reef suffered from widespread coral bleaching that began in 2016. The Philippines’ coral reefs are showing some resilience as well as signs of recovery from bleaching events during past El Nino seasons. Still, knowing how sensitive corals are — and how they affect everything from fisheries, to shorelines, to tourism — we can see how the bleaching and death of corals are a deep loss we cannot afford.
The second main concern we’re aware of is ocean acidification. Unusual levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean changes its natural pH balance and leads to acidification. In increasingly acidic water, there are fewer compounds like calcium carbonate for tiny marine organisms to build their shells and exoskeletons (like corals). If these small marine organisms develop too slowly, this means less food and shelter to support the food chain that depends on them; and the repercussions could put the world’s entire food web at risk, not just within the ocean but above as well.
At Hello PH!, we do our part to acknowledge and mitigate the effects of climate change. A few of the areas we can focus on as a tour company are promoting waste management and recycling, supporting initiatives to reduce illegal fishing and overfishing, and encouraging responsible, sustainable tourism. Our goal is to tackle what we can, in our small way, within the context of our own business and country.
We don’t claim to be experts, but we’re constantly learning how to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. We invite you join us in this united effort to gather more knowledge, become more aware, and take action where possible. By being more conscious of our actions, we may be able to curb the damage done, and save our planet, oceans and the travel destinations we love so much.