Typhoon Fanapi strikes Taiwan, causes floods in the south

Typhoon Fanapi satellite photo by NASA

Image from NASA Earth Observatory

Typhoon Fanapi (颱風凡那比) was the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan this year. It made landfall at Fengbin in Hualien County at 8:40am on Sunday 19 September. The typhoon packed winds that exceeded 200 kilometres per hour. It also caused a Foehn wind which resulted in elevated temperatures in Taitung on Sunday morning.

Rainfall from Typhoon Fanapi

Some of the areas that experienced the heaviest rainfall were also the ones affected by Typhoon Morakot in August last year. Some locations in Pingtung County recorded over 1,000 millimetres of rain. According to the Central Weather Bureau website as of 5pm Monday Majia in Pingtung County had recorded 1,123.5 millimetres of rain. Shangdewen in Sandimen Township of Pingtung County had recored 1,007 millimetres in the same period.  Continue reading

Greens from Asia Pacific region meet in Taipei

The Asia Pacific Greens Network Congress took place in Taipei from Friday through Sunday. It brought together members of Green parties and environmental activists from many countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and also from Europe. I attended the conference on Saturday. Continue reading

Rising sea levels threaten Taipei

I sent a letter about climate change to the Taipei Times on 7 January, but as of today it hasn’t been published (Update: published on 17 January). The Taipei Times published this letter on climate change today (which contains some ridiculous claims) and also Johnny Neihu took an amusing look at the qualities of Shezi Island in his column on Saturday. My letter follows:

The decision to develop Shezi Island (社子島) in Taipei as a “new Manhattan” is an example of short-sighted decision making (CEPD passes Shezidao development plan, Taipei Times, 6 January 2010). It shows that governments in Taiwan are not aware of, or planning for, the future impacts of climate change. Continue reading

Energy is a hot topic

The National Energy Conference currently being held in Taipei has pushed energy issues into the spotlight. This comes on the back of news earlier this week that German wind power company InfraVest threatened to withdraw from Taiwan if the government did not implement policies to support renewable energy.

At the conference President Ma called on the Legislative Yuan to pass the renewable energy law.  The Taipei Times reported the DPP and KMT finger pointing at each other over the failure to pass the renewable energy bill. Both parties must shoulder the blame. The DPP controlled the executive for eight years and failed to implement effective energy policies. The pan-blue parties had a majority in the legislature during this time and failed to pass the renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction laws. Continue reading

Taiwan’s disappearing coastline

A few days ago the Taiwan News reported  global warming is causing Taiwan’s sea level to rise:

Sea levels around the world are gradually on the rise due to global warming, said the report. In his research several years ago, Fan discovered that Taiwan’s sea level was rising at an annual average of 0.32 cm, higher than China’s 0.26 cm and the global average of 0.1 to 0.2 cm.

The tidal land in central and southern Taiwan suffers from constant flooding, said Fan. If the sea level keeps rising at such a fast speed, it is feared the land will be swallowed up by the end of the century, Fan cautioned.

Today’s Taipei Times has a good feature article which looks at the issue of coastal erosion and the various factors involved. It quantifies some of the levels of beach erosion. Continue reading

Drought, water and climate change

I came across this article in the Taipei Times today which noted that parts of central and southern Taiwan are yet to record any rainfall this year! The article mentions concerns about an imminent drought and then goes on to say,

The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Water Resources Agency issued a warning on Tuesday about a water shortage.

Central Weather Bureau forecaster Daniel Wu (吳德榮) said the phenomenon was unusual, adding that last month the nation may have received among the lowest precipitation on record.

Information provided by the bureau showed that observation stations in Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung had not recorded rainfall for 49 consecutive days since last month.

What is surprising to me is that the article does not once mention climate change. While the conditions might be unusual, they should not be unexpected. A paper by Yu Pao-shan, Yang Tao-chang and Wu Chih-kang published in the Journal of Hydrology in 2002 investigated the impact of climate change on water resources in southern Taiwan. The study forecast increasing run off during the wet season (summer) with decreasing run off during the dry season (winter). This would lead to increasing challenges in storing water during the high run off period for use in the low run off period. Continue reading

1206 climate change action in Taipei

The 1206 climate change action was held in Taipei today. It was part of an international day of action on climate change. The action is timed to coincide with the UNFCCC climate talks in Poznan, Poland. I also participated in the 2006 and 2007 actions in Taipei.

This year the action began at Freedom Square (自由廣場) where people gathered for a march. Last year about three thousand people marched, but this year the numbers were down to less than a thousand. Climate change is an issue which gets little attention in Taiwan and perhaps Taiwanese are too consumed by other issues at the moment to get involved in action against climate change. Still a large number of environmental groups were involved including the Green Party, Society of Wilderness and the Homemaker’s Union and Foundation. There were also several groups opposing local development projects. Continue reading

Car Free Day bike rides

Cyclists line up to participate in the Car Free Day bike ride in Taipei County

22 September is International Car Free Day. The event began in Paris in 1998 and is now held in cities around the world. This year marked the seventh year Car Free Day activities have been held in Taipei.

I last participated in Taipei’s Car Free Day bike ride back in 2006. In previous years there has been a combined event for Taipei City and County, however this year there were two separate rides. On Saturday there was a ride from Yonghe to Xindian in Taipei County and then on Sunday a ride from Taipei City Hall to Gongguan.

Members of the Taiwan Green Party protest against the Dan-Bei Expressway

Saturday’s ride began at the riverside park in Yonghe. I joined with a group from the Taiwan Green Party who staged a protest against the planned Dan-Bei Expressway. This proposed road would have impacts on the Hongshulin mangrove forest as well as leading to increased traffic and CO2 emissions. The government wants to start the project without doing an environmental impact assessment. A good background on the issue can be found in this feature from the Taipei Times. Continue reading