Temperature Rising in Cameron Highlands

23th May 2016- When the replacement Local Plan for Cameron Highlands 2030 was open for public viewing late last year, many of us could not immediately find the time to scrutinize it . It came in 3 big volumes ie Jilid I to III and since no detailed copies were initially available for the public to ‘takeaway’, one had to spend time at the town planners office to study it. (Later, although it became available online  some pages were duplicated while others were missing.)

Then the reporters started calling. Amongst the first questions they asked were “What is REACH’s comment on the 7.5 degrees rise in minimum temperature in Cameron Highlands?”

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7.5 Degrees? Incredible.

We have been monitoring the temperature trend here and to our knowledge from our weather data from the meteorological department spanning 46years ( from 1965 to 2011) there was a rise of minimum temperature of around 2 degrees in Cameron Highlands. But a whooping 7.5 degrees? It caught us by surprise too , coming from the local Plan. The Local Plan is unlikely to be wrong (or so we thought) since it is done by paid consultants and compiling  the graph too, using Microsoft Excel is very basic which any high school student studying computing can manage.

To avoid any possible error on our part, we purchased the last 4 years of weather data ie 2012 to 2015.IMG_3625

And below is our temperature graph of Cameron Highlands compiled from data over 50 years.  IMG_3626It confirms that the minimum temperature rose by around 2 degrees and not 7.5 degrees and that the minimum temperature is around 15 degrees and not 18 degrees as shown in the Local Plan.

As for the reasons behind this 2 degree rise, when worldwide the temperature rose by only 1 degree, the 2 main causes are

1. Extensive loss of forest cover.

From the local Plan the forest cover in Cameron Highlands is still around 87 %  ie 62,503 hectares IMG_3619The reality is far less. Based on aerial imagery and ground surveillance, illegal land clearing in forest reserves , degazettement of forest reserves for housing projects have led to extensive loss of forest cover.

2. Wide usage of plastic green houses for farming

This traps the heat from the sun and also reflects it.

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As  many more housing projects is likely to be approved for this Local Plan, leading to even more montane forests being sacrificed, in Cameron Highlands the temperature continues to rise literally and figuratively.