PETALING JAYA: Cameron Highlands is warming at a faster rate, made worse by the El Nino since beginning of this year. And that’s bad news in all sorts of ways.
The rise in temperature will affect the vegetable farms in Cameron Highlands, which produce 600 tonnes of greens every year, reducing both their quality and quantity.
Tourism, another big industry in Cameron Highlands, will also be affected.
The onset of La Nina at the end of the year will bring 10% to 15% increase in rainfall but that’s of little relief as it is likely to lead to landslides, especially around vegetable plots, destroying the produce.
The heat in the first half of the year will also have caused the soil to become loose and dry, making erosion worse during heavy rainfall.
Climate expert Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah said global warming had caused a 0.5°C rise in temperature around the world over the past decade.
“But more than global warming, it (temperature increase) is due to Cameron Highlands’ own signature.
It shows a 0.2°C to 0.3°C on top of the rise from global warming,” he said in an interview.
“Some places like Ringlet, with its higher build-up, may see more,” added Prof Azizan.
Data on temperatures in Cameron Highlands over the past 20 years showed that the increase was mainly due to land use changes, he said.
Trees, he said, were a natural “air-conditioning”,
“Leaves are good reflectors and forests, having a bigger surface area of leaves, are better reflectors than vegetables,” he pointed out.
Prof Azizan said most of the legislation on keeping a balanced development in Cameron Highlands were already there but that nobody was enforcing it.
“If we are able to manage the development well we can have the cake and eat it too. But we must not be too greedy,” he said.
The other method, he said, was to keep the forest, adding that this should be on higher altitude than the surrounding areas to have a cooling effect.
Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan said the temperature increase was also due to the greenhouse plastic covering used by farmers.
It was also caused by the thousands of visitors flocking to the popular tourist spot.
Asked if the re-foresting of vast tracts of illegally cleared land could help right the temperature, Ramakrishnan said the higher elevation meant slower growth rate for the trees.
“It took us 16 years to reforest a 50 acre barren piece of land in Gunung Brinchang while it should only take five years in the lowlands.”
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