Remember the good ol’ days when life was a lot simpler and the weather forecast was simply “cerah” (sunny), “mendung” (cloudy/overcast) or the famous “hujan di sana sini” (ie scattered showers – can’t go wrong with that one!).
But climate change changes everything. The weather patterns is no longer so predictable.
The graph above gives us another reason why we must protect our hills and natural habitat from over-development: look at the higher rainfall trend in the northern region over the last few years compared to the running average and baseline.
You can see in Dr Kam Suan Pheng’s presentation new areas of flooding in September 2017 compared to the flood-prone areas in earlier years. Some of it is also due to the loss of green spaces and vegetable farmland, which can absorb rainwater, such as in Thean Teik and Relau and the Spice complex.
This rising rainfall trend was highlighted in the recent Penang Forum 8: Dialogue on Floods. (This higher-than-baseline trend continued over the last few years despite the El Nino droughts in 2014-2016.)
A similar pattern can be seen in the central region of Peninsular Malaysia.
So the prime minister shouldn’t get too smug about the distribution of federal flood aid in Penang, as what happened in the north in September and November could just as easily happen in the Klang Valley, where over-development is just as rampant (look at what is going on at Taman Rimba Kiara). Similarly, the Penang state government should rein in over-development and incorporate the impact of climate change in its ongoing review of the Penang Structure Plan.
And check out the maximum temperature graph for the northern region:
Again a similar pattern for the central region as well as for minimum temperatures.
Now why isn’t this on the front pages of our newspapers or headline news in the online media? Why aren’t the politicians talking about this?
These trends are worrying especially given that we cannot afford global temperatures to rise more than two degrees.
All the more reason we have to protect and safeguard our hills to minimise surface run-off into the river basins where our concrete jungle is expanding.