AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 731

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Session 731: Climate Change and Environmental Awareness in East Asia

Historical Reading of Baguio City's Climiate: Seeing the Prospect of Local Initatives on Mitigating Climate Change in the Summer Capital
Charita Arcangel Delos Reyes, University of the Philippines, Philippines

Considered as a twentieth century architectural wonder, Baguio City in Northern Philippines was established by the Americans in 1900 as a colonial hill station to serve as “a health resort, a recreation center, and a regional capital” atop the chilly mountains of Benguet in Northern Luzon, Philippines. The unprecedented growth of this “City of Pines” and the growing needs and demands of a highly urbanized city drastically changed the landscape and terrain of Baguio, with its concomitant effect on climate change, which became evident toward the end of the twentieth century. This paper is a historical-geographical-climatological contribution that aims to describe climate change in the city under normal and idyllic weather conditions at the start of the twentieth century; provide an appraisal of the city’s climatic disturbances toward the end of the twentieth century; and identify some prospects of integrating program and projects for mitigating climate change in local governance. Culled from written sources and interviews, it is thematically presented into three parts: (1) The Environmental Situation of Baguio City; (2) Manifestations of Climate Change; (2.1) Climatic Conditions at the turn of the twentieth century; (2.2) Climatic Conditions at the end of the twentieth century; and (3) Some Local Initiatives on Integrating Program and Projects for Mitigating Climate Change.

Climate Change and Asia’s Coastal Urban Cities: Can They Meet the Challenge?
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Asia’s coastal megacities are increasingly vulnerable to flooding disasters resulting from the combined effects of climate change (manifested as sea level rise, intensified storms, and storm surges), land subsidence, and rapid urban growth. Despite the absence of precise climate-change predictions, recent studies suggest that these risks are intensifying at much faster rates than were projected only a few years ago. This paper addresses these growing physical risks to Asian coastal regions and suggests that averting or reducing these risks pose a severe challenge that will require action on a number of fronts, including the formation of comprehensive climate risk-reduction strategies, the development of the institutional capacity to implement and enforce adaptation measures, and the mobilization of necessary resources. Despite widespread knowledge about adaptation measures that can reduce climate-change related risks, in many Asian coastal cities, appropriate risk-reduction measures have not been implemented or even seriously considered. Substantial barriers to implementing these measures, which need to be overcome before individual adaptation measures can begin to be addressed, include: lack of awareness, the distracting immediacy of other problems, budgetary constraints, and governance issues. As Cyclone Nargris in 2007 and other recent disasters in Asia have shown, there is an urgent need to develop risk-management strategies, including improved infrastructure, early warning systems and evacuation plans, and disaster response and relief aid. Thus, implementation of climate risk management in planning and policy must be given high priority if there is hope of meeting the twin challenges posed by climate change and urban growth.

The Heat Island Phenomenon in Tokyo, and the Countermeasures Being Introduced
Brian Harrison, Chuo University, Japan

Global warming caused temperatures to rise by an average of 0.6oC worldwide in the 20th century, and by 1oC on average in Japan. However, in Tokyo the temperature increased by 3oC, with the excess increase attributable to the heat island effect. This is when the central areas of a city are substantially warmer than outlying areas. In Tokyo the effects can be observed in a variety of ways. Summer nights are often unpleasant, with a significant increase in the number of “tropical nights,” where the temperature fails to fall below 25oC. There have been large increases in the numbers of people suffering from heatstroke. Localized torrential downpours, once comparatively rare, have become fairly common, with the stormwaters overwhelming drainage systems and even causing deaths. The major cause of the heat island effect has been the covering of natural land by roads and buildings, with a resultant loss of a cooling effect due to evaporation from vegetation. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that one key countermeasure for combating the urban warming is to increase greenery by constructing green roofs, green walls and green curtains. This presentation will explain the reasons for the heat island effect; its severity in Tokyo; and the countermeasures being introduced.

Dynamic Interplay Between Materializing Nature and Naturalizing Settlement- Case Study of Taipei, Taiwan
Shiuhshen Chien, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Under the context of global warming and climate change, the topic that the city exerts its impacts upon the nature or vise verse has been undoubtedly widely researched in the literature on urban ecology in particular and that on political ecology in general, which more focuses on the phenomenon that either ecology has been urbanized or the city has been transformed naturally. However, the existing literature pays relatively little attention to the duel developing process of how and under what circumstances the ecology and the city is able to be interactively involved and evolved. In order to fill up the gap, we propose two concepts- (1) materializing nature refers to a process that the nature is physically developed for various kinds of direct or indirect capital accumulation, and (2) naturalizing settlement means a process that partial or all material constructions are removed from human environments, which in return become real or man-made nature. The analytic framework of these two concepts, from our view, is able to supplement the existing literature that does not explain well the dynamic interplay between the city and the nature. Our theoretical framework is further empirically examined by the case study of Taipei, Taiwan.