Taiwan and Global Warming

Taiwan main island (NASA photo 23791)

Taiwan faces many challenges, especially in the area of global warming, climate change, earthquakes, and typhoons. Taiwan lies about 150 kilometers off the Fukian coast of the China mainland. It is separated from the latter by the Taiwan Strait which has an average depth of 100 meters.  While mainland China considers Taiwan to be a province of central (mainland) China, Taiwan rejects this idea and presents itself as an independent state. 

Taiwan is composed of 79 islands and islets.  The main island of Taiwan enjoys a length of 385 kilometers. The maximum width is 143 kilometers. This island occupies a total area of 35,960 square kilometers.  It is separated from the Asian continent by the 160 km (99 mi) wide Taiwan Strait, and in the past was known as Formosa (from the Portuguese: Ilha Formosa, “Beautiful Island”).   What the Portuguese plunderers did not destroy, other traders, especially the Dutch, and later the Japanese would destroy, until Taiwan was left alone until after the fall of democracy with Mao’s coup.

The first general geologic map of Taiwan was compiled by Y. Ishii and published in 1898, only three years after the island was occupied by the Japanese.

While the Portuguese named the island, the Dutch were its biggest traders. It was occupied by the Japanese in 1895, with cavalry parading through its streets.

Over the last 100 years, the earth of the main island and some smaller islands has been eroding as the ocean surrounding it has been on the rise.  This has been especially over the last thirty years, as the product of global warming that has steadily lead to large areas or chunks of ice breaking off of the Antarctic and its adjoining icebergs, floating out to sea, and as the ice met with warmer waters, the ice began to melt and with the melting increased the water level in the ocean and subsequently rose the level of the ocean itself killing many salt-sea fish since icebergs are fresh water based.

Antarctica iceberg (80% is below the ocean’s surface)

Pingtung County Taiwan

Taiwan’s sea level has been rising at an annual average of 0.32 cm. The greatest extent of seawater encroachment has been estimated to be as far as 8.5 kilometers inland with an affected area of about 104 square kilometers (40 square miles) in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County. 

Taiwan is hit by an average of 3.6 typhoons each year, resulting in extensive damage; the economic cost of the typhoons has been recorded at more than NT$14.2 billion from 1961 to 1991, almost 0.68% of Taiwan’s GNP.  The number of typhoons is increasing as the seal level rises due to global warming, a reality too real for the Taiwanese, but ridiculed by USA conservatives such as Senators DeMint, Inhofe, and 74% of the GOP in the Senate of the USA who reject science. 

By 1990, the USA was responsible for no less than 25% of all global emissions destroying the ozone layer and increasing global warming, and while Bill Clinton tried to get the US Senate to ratify the Kyoto Accord, George W. Bush and his EPA appointee Christine Todd Whitman showed open contempt for the environment and vowed not to have the Accord ratified by the US Senate (http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/644/Global-Climate-Change-INTERNATIONAL-EFFORTS-GLOBAL-WARMING.html).  Those who lead the charge against science are those who are the most poorly educated in the US Congress.  These include US Senators James DeMint (R-SC; read: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/02/what-does-snowmageddon-prove-about-global-warming/1) who blasted global warming when a blizzard hit Washington, DC—but as Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado pointed out:  “It’s part of natural variability.  With global warming in some areas, he said, “we’ll still have record cold temperatures. We’ll just have fewer of them.” Read: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34735022 and http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/02/what-does-snowmageddon-prove-about-global-warming/1) and James Mountain “Jim” Inhofe  is the senior Senator from Oklahoma (he was born in Des Moines, IA and received a B.A. degree from the University of Tulsa in 1973, at the age of 38) who boasts of stopping any legislation that was or is addressed to the issues of global warming, pollution, or ecological disasters which the US Senator claims is an offense against the USA and American interests.  He said on the floor of the Senate of the USA: I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and called it a “a favored fundraising tool” and cites “popular author Dr. Michael Crichton” as an expert scientist on global warming. Crichton, however is a medical and scientific fiction writer for Hollywood, and has lectured that “aliens” are the cause of global warming. (Read: USA Senate record for James Inhofe’s speech on global warming: http://inhofe.senate.gov/pressreleases/climateupdate.htm and Creighton’s speech that aliens caused global warming given at California Institute of Technology at http://acapella.harmony-central.com/showthread.php?1548497-Dr.-Michael-Crichton-quot-Aliens-Cause-Global-Warming-quot&s=78a9413aa527083639b2447bb5f58a6a).

In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney stated that Inhofe “politicizes and misuses the science of climate change” {Mooney, Chris (2006), The Republican War on Science. New York : BasicBooks, p. 227}, while in the United Kingdom, Johann Hari stated that Inhofe’s statements have been “repudiated” by “even the handful of contrarian scientists Inhofe constantly cites” {Johann Hari, “Climate Change ‘Hey, It’s Just a Hoax'”, The Independent, November 20, 2005, page 23}), and Ohio’s senior senator, George V. Voinovich (Read: http://discuss.epluribusmedia.net/node/228), who are deep in the pockets of the Koch Brothers (David lives in New York and spends millions to stop any climate control legislation in the USA or other nations; ) who are numbered in the top ten worse polluters of the planet (http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/24/new-yorker-koch-brothers-smithsonian-tea-party/) and created and controls The American Heritage Foundation that endorses pollution and objects to any efforts to stop global warming (http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/05/Senate-Should-Reject-EPAs-Regulatory-Overreach-on-Global-Warming and http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/31/report-koch-industries-outspends-exxon-mobil-on-climate-and-clean-energy-disinformation/, second only to the

Koch Brothers (in the top 10 worst polluters in the world)

Koch Brothers in denying global warming is ExxonMobil Corporation who invests heavily in candidates determined to stop any efforts to end greenhouse gases; Australians, controlled by the media run by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian who controls the major media in the UK and USA (including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal) are among the world’s worst per capita carbon polluters–with the pollution being defended and even championed by far-right conservatives such as the Sydney Telegraph  and the Australian fascist  Australian Family Association (an organized hate group patterned after the American Family Association).  Australia has the highest per capita level of greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world, largely because of its heavy reliance on coal to generate electricity. As Australian media has noted:

Industrial air pollution in Australia (2011)

Each person now creates 27.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, or enough to fill 27 family homes. The figure is 27 per cent higher than the amount produced by American citizens and more than double the average figure for people living in industrialised countries.  The president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Bill Glasson, said making diesel fuel cheaper would increase air pollution in cities. “In Europe, the number of deaths caused by vehicle emissions was estimated to be more than twice the number of deaths from road accidents,” he said.

“In Australia deaths caused by vehicle emissions at least equals the number of deaths caused by road accidents. The Howard Government has made dirty fuels cheaper, our air more polluted and potentially caused the death of many more Australians.”

(http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/18/1087245110190.html).  Australia, however, in its favor, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard has proposed a carbon tax to be levied on major industrial polluters by July 1, 2012; cf. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110529/wl_asia_afp/australiacarbonenvironmententertainmentblanchett).  Only one of the new Republican senators (Illinois’ Mark Kirk) fully accepts that global warming is happening. At least half of Republican House members question the phenomenon (Read more: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/26/2607253/us-still-inactive-on-global-warming.html#ixzz1NguH7Xqz).

Water pollution in Louisiana where oil spills are regular and thousands of fish die suffocate in the crude

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Christian conservative group Louisiana Family Forum (an organized hate group with ties to the American Nazi Party) opposed the repeal of a law that would allow the introduction of the mythology of creation to enter into science classrooms and argue that global warming is a hoax (by some, a lie spread by the Devil) as their god will protect the earth (read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/26/2237321_la-senators-reject-repeal-of-science.html#ixzz1NgtZCFt8).  The same is true with the Republican Party in Illinois (http://www.lincolncourier.com/news/x1158537897/GOP-candidates-reject-idea-humans-cause-global-warming), South Dakota (http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/1998/bills/HCR1004P.htm) and other states, and numerous newspapers and religious leaders (such as Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission {http://www.ethicsdaily.com/climate-expert-challenges-southern-baptist-leaders-global-warming-claims-cms-12419}  it should be remembered that the Southern Baptists remain the group that applauds lynching of minorities, demand that women be subordinate to men, and argue that Blacks were better off as slaves and that their bible is the only word of “god”}) who see the Kyoto Accord to be a communist conspiracy (http://www.stentorian.com/columns/warming.html).

Newsweek Magazine exposes the ignorance of the USA Congress on global warming

By 2007, the world was rightfully opposed to having the USA in the lead in any area, from “world cop” to an authority on global warming and changes, to human rights, for the USA has violated every basic law affecting people in a way more in keeping with Nazi Germany than in being a democratic nation. Majorities throughout all nations polled, think that the United States cannot be trusted to “act responsibly in the world” in: Argentina (84 percent), Peru (80 percent), Russia (73 percent), France (72 percent) and Indonesia (64 percent). But majorities or large percentages in the Philippines (85 percent), Israel (81 percent), Poland (51 percent), and Ukraine (49 percent) say the superpower can be at least “somewhat” trusted to act responsibly (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37394).

Pacific Ocean sea-level rising

If the sea level keeps rising at such a fast speed, it is feared the land in central and southern Taiwan will be swallowed up by the end of the century.  In its 2007 assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations said that due to the global warming, the world’s sea level is projected to rise by up to 0.59 meters before the end of this century.

Taiwan fish-farming (2011)

Much of this can be blamed on over-development and pollution causing the marine species around Taiwan to vanish at a fast speed and with that ending the traditional Taiwanese ocean stability. Taiwan’s sea-life has been disappearing rapidly for various reasons such as coastal overdevelopment, overfishing the ocean and excessive fish-farming due to an ever-expanding Taiwan and other national interests and greed for food that pours needed capital into the economy of Taiwan, destruction of natural habitats for sea-life, shore and inland

Taiwan industrial pollution

animal life and the population explosion that is ignored, and escalating pollution from vehicles (cars, trucks, airplanes, and so forth) and non-recycled waste that is dumped casually on land and into the ocean over the past thirty to forty years.  Concerning the impact on the earth in Taiwan because of its fish-farming, it is worth reading:

The fish-farming industry in western and northeastern Taiwan requires several times more ground water than is needed for irrigation. This kind of over-pumping of ground water results in serious land subsidence or sinking in the coastal areas. According to a recent survey, an area of up to 1,097 square kilometers suffers from subsidence: this is 3% of the island’s total land area and 9% of its flat area. This problem obviously needs an immediate and effective solution (read: http://twgeog.geo.ntnu.edu.tw/english/natural_hazard/natural_hazard.htm, the original release is in Chinese).

The world's Tectonic plates

These all lead to an increasing destabilization of the land of Taiwan, and eventually cause pressure on the tectonic plate beneath the island.  As the plates shift with too much stress, the result is regular earthquakes.

Taiwan earthquake results

Paleocene Age of the Cenozoic Epoch has little ice and deeper oceans 85 million years ago

Evolution of animals during the Cenozoic Age

In Cenozoic time (commonly defined as “Age of Mammals” but this is incorrect, as it only spans about 65 million years, from the end of the Cretaceous and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs to the present; it has two main sub-divisions: the Tertiary epoch and the Quaternary epoch. Most of the Cenozoic is the Tertiary, from 65 million years ago to 1.8 million years ago. The Quaternary includes only the last 1.8 million years), Taiwan is located on the convergent boundary between the Eurasian plate and the Philippine Sea plate.  In this plate tectonic event, the Ryukyu Arc is on the east and northeast of Taiwan where convergence is marked by northward subduction of the Philippine Sea plate beneath the Ryukyu Arc on the Eurasian plate along the Ryukyu Trench (for a fuller discussion, read: http://www.moeacgs.gov.tw/english/twgeol/twgeol_ptsetting_02.jsp).

While the government of Taiwan has attempted to pass laws and regulations in favor of conservation methods and fishing restrictions in an effort to set up of marine protection zone, the government has done little to enforce the law and the people of Taiwan maintain a cavalier attitude about the legislation. The problem environmental mutilation is compounded by the overpumping of groundwater both for traditional agriculture and for fish farming. This has caused the groundwater level to fall and land to subside below sea level in some coastal areas.  The lack of interest in oceanography and the protection of the waters’ natural life, as many have predicted, may foretell a future without any fish in the ocean and lead to an ever escalating cost for food with hunger and starvation rampant in Taiwan within thirty years (forty years at the most; read more at http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=898493).  

If the sea level rises 6 meters, areas such as Chiayi Donggang will disappear completely (for a documentary on this, see: http://blog.xuite.net/osaki99/blog/31218650). Global warming is a long-term process in which the average global temperature rises. At a rate of 0.5 degrees

Polar bears on iceberg that broke free from mainland (2011)

Celsius per century, the average global temperature has been surging at an unprecedented rate during the past 50 years. Global warming has melted polar ice sheets and endangered polar bears in the Arctic. The Arctic was once the Earth’s air-conditioner, but this is now long gone. A rise in sea level threatens the biosphere and the future of many lowland countries, among them Taiwan.  According to statistics, when islands such as the Maldives sink into the sea as the oceans rise with the rapidly melting polar icecaps, four places in Taiwan — Chiayi Donggang, Pingtung Linbian, Donggang and Yunlin Mailiao — will experience the fate of the fabled island of Atlantis.  If the sea level continues to rise, Taipei and Kaohsiung will also be in danger—and in time Taiwan will be but a memory.  

Much of the fate of Taiwan will be determined by the increasing number of typhoons and their severity.  As global warming becomes more serious and the climate changes more dramatically, Taiwan will suffer more than other Asian countries because of its special topography and geology. In the future, typhoons will be stronger and the rainfall will be more extreme. Storms will come after droughts. Heat waves will follow merciless winters.

The worse typhoon to hit Taiwan was in 2009. 

Effect of Typhoon Morakot on Keelung Taiwan (2009)

Typhoon Morakot (International designation: 0908, JTWC designation: 09W, PAGASA name: Kiko) was the deadliest typhoon in Taiwan’s recorded history. It began as a tropical depression early on August 2, 2009.  Before the end of that day it was upgraded to a tropical storm and named Morakot, by the Japan Meteorological Agency late on August 3, then upgraded on August 5 to a typhoon.  Early on August 7, the storm attained its peak intensity with winds of 140 km/h (85 mph) the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. Within 24 hours, the storm swung back over water into the Taiwan Strait.  The remnants of the typhoon eventually dissipated on August 11. 

Pingtung County Taiwan under Typhoon Morakot (2009)

Rescue workers searching for victims of mudslide that buried Xiaolin at Jiaxian township near Kaohsiung county (August 21, 2009)

The damage Typhoon Morakot did to Taiwan was catastrophic: leaving 461 people dead and 192 others missing, most of whom are feared dead and cost roughly NT$110 billion ($3.3 billion USD) in damages, producing copious amounts of rainfall, peaking at 2,777 mm (109.3 inches), surpassing the previous record of 1,736 mm (68.35 in) set by Typhoon Herb in 1996. The extreme amount of rain triggered enormous mudslides and severe flooding throughout southern Taiwan. One mudslide buried the entire town of Xiaolin killing an estimated 500 people in the village alone, plus possibly twice that number of other people who were visiting or passing through the community, including tourists.  The final numbers were never calculated, nor were many victims found or their bodies retrieved.

While it is nearly impossible to reverse the destruction of earth mortals have extirpated on the planet for generations, there are ways to slow down global warming.  Simply stated by Kavir Tseng at National Taiwan University, to conserve energy and reduce CO2 emissions, people should:

  1. Open windows and do not use air-conditioners.
  2. Use solar panels to generate electricity.
  3. Turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use. Pull the plugs so that energy cannot flow into the appliance (such as electric timers, warm-up lights, and so forth).
  4. Take public transportation instead of driving.
  5. Walk or ride bikes instead of using cars.
  6. Take the stairs instead of elevators.
  7. Eat vegetables instead of meat.

Cows in Asia attempt to eat discarded plastic bags

Use environmentally friendly eating utensils and bags instead of disposable ones (for example: in 2003, India outlawed the use of plastic bags and threatened offenders with an up to seven years behind bars or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($2,000) if they were caught using one—and has the strictest laws against using unrecyclable plastics, especially when many of its sacred cows were found dead after attempting to eat the discarded plastic (but this is common throughout Indochina, and was an increasing problem before governments stepped in to outlaw plastic bags); the India model was followed by the Union of South Africa which penalizes users with a ten-year prison term for using plastic bags {http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3132387.stm}; Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2006 {http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4619748.stm}; Ireland taxed plastic bags 33 cents each at the register, thereby discouraging most people from  using them {http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080202/news_1n2bags.html}; in 2007, San Francisco, California USA, was the first city to ban all plastic bags {http://articles.sfgate.com/2007-03-28/news/17235798_1_compostable-bags-plastic-bags-california-grocers-association}; China banned thin plastic bags in January 2008 {http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/15042}; while the USA (except for California) continues to lag behind the rest of the world; there are exceptions, as with Southampton Village on Long Island, New York, which banned plastic bags on April 28, 2011: Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to 14 days in jail {http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/04/long_island_village_approves_b.html}).

Plastic bags litter shorelines, kill fish and other wildlife (2011)

Plastic is made from petroleum.  It should not be used, as plastic not only can kill living creatures (animals, humans–especially babies who see plastic bags as toys–and fish, as well as destroy the earth itself as plastic is not biodegradable, as they learned nearly too late in India.  Plastic bags pollute water and oceans, with the main coast of Perú, where waste is so thick off of the coast of San Miguel, that the area has a permanent stench that is surpasses any sewer.  What is essential is to recycle all things, and carrying bags made from hemp or cotton or wool is earth friendly.  (Read the article by Tseng, Kavir (May 28, 2010). “Global Warming and Taiwan” at http://ntuforex.blogspot.com/2010/05/global-warming-and-taiwan.html).

Dated, but still useful, bibliography on the problems facing Taiwan includes:

Environmental Protection Administration Government of R.O.C. edited, 1995: Zhong-hua-min-guo-tai-wan-di-qu-huan-jing-zi-xun, Taipei, Environmental Protection Administration Government of R.O.C, pp. 25-30.

Chen, Kuo-yen, 1982: Tai-wan-long-juan-feng-zhi-pin-lu-yu-feng-bu, Di-li-xue-yan-jiu, Vol. 6, pp. 55-68.

Chen, Kuo-yen, 1986: Tai-wan-de-shui-zai-lei-xing-yu-feng-bu, Zhong-guo-di-li-xue-hui-kan, pp. 27-38.

Chen, Kuo-yen, 1986: Tai-wan-de-shui-zai-lei-xing-yu-feng-bu, Zhong-guo-di-li-xue-hui-kan, pp. 27-38.

Chen, Kuo-yen, 1983: Dong-ya-zhi-mei-yu, Di-li-xue-yan-jiu, Vol. 7, pp. 35-48.

1 Comment

Filed under ecological catastrophes, ecological disasters, Global Warming, Koch Brothers, pollution

One response to “Taiwan and Global Warming

  1. Sharon Treinen

    All of us have a responsibility to prevent global warming in some small way. Very interesting read.

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