Choi, Ji-young 기자2016.03.02 00:00:00
The Korean four character idiom 'Sam-han-sa-on' which means a cycle of three days cold and four warm days has become useless since the current warm winter has posted the highest temperature in 42 years. This situation is due to El Niño. El Niño is a warm ocean current that flows along the equator from the date line, raising sea levels near the equator. More exactly, it means that the temperature of the East Pacific Ocean was around 0.5℃ higher than average for five months. This usually causes drought in Southeast Asia and heavy rain in Southern and Western US. The Super El Niño caused significant impacts all over the world.
Impact of El Niño on the Environment
Christmas time in the northern hemisphere is supposed to be cold with lots of snow. However, Christmas for some northern hemisphere nations was celebrated with pink flowers at 16℃. Full blown cherry-blossoms decorated the flower garden in front of the Christmas tree in Dresden, Germany. Moreover, people in Washington D.C. enjoyed Christmas wearing short sleeved shirts because the temperature reached 21℃. In addition, El Niño had bad impacts around the world. A strong tornado swept across areas in Dallas, Texas, 11 times in a row. Eleven people died and dozens of people were injured. 38% of coral reefs were damaged by chlorosis which make them white because of undernourishment. This phenomenon arises when the seawater exceeds 30℃. Furthermore, International relief organizations predict more than four million people will suffer from a lack of food and drinking water because of drought.
Impact of El Niño on the Economy
El Niño affects not only the environment but also the economy. First, El Niño affects tourism. Many winter tourism events such as skiing and ice festivals depend on cold weather. The temperature in Moscow was 5 degrees, about 12 degree higher than average -6.5, so the famous ice rink center could not open. The Pyeongchang Trout Festival was not successful for a while, because ice could not formed due to El Niño. Many regions which rely on tourism cannot make as much as profit as they used to. The second effect is damage to crops. Drought caused by El Niño meant that winter crops hardly grew. Brazil and India, who produce sugar cane, as well as the representative wheat producing nation, Australia, and other nations relying on agriculture will affected by economic loss. The price jumped as production was reduced, so nations who use lots of these crops are also damaged. Subordinate damage can also occur. For example, the increasing price of palm oil can cause the price of lipstick to rise. Nevertheless, there are positive results as well. Consumption of electricity reduced since the need for heating decreased. For last the few years, South Korea has been threatened by blackouts, but this worry disappeared this year according to the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).
Impact of El Niño on Human Rights
Many islands around the Pacific Ocean are submerging because of the sea level rise as warm water melts from glaciers. The representative island is Tuvalu, which is the first victim of climate change. Tuvalu will be submerged completely in 2060. Two of the 9 islands are already sinking, causing change of capital and they gave up their national territory in 2001. People living there were the first to become environmental refugees. However, no nations will accept them except New Zealand. In reality, New Zealand accepts refugees who are helpful to them, not elderly people or those who cannot speak English. The damage from El Niño is out of their control, but their rights to live safely, and to maintain their home and other things cannot continue. However, they should not be just left behind. People all around the world have to help them.
Not only El Niño, but other abnormal climate factors like global warming are taking place. The climate has had an absolute influence on culture for a long time. The abnormal climate could mean that people do not know what to do in new conditions different from their traditional ones. Therefore, introspection is needed in order to cope with the abnormal climate and keep and develop our native cultures.
The KNU Times