Ecosystem Dynamics Environment

Agroecosystem and the Rise of Agroecology

Due to the lack of exhaustive reference material on agroecosystem for my ecosystems dynamics class, I decided to write this post. I defined agroecosystem, characterized it, and introduced agroecology as a sustainable way of producing food. Agroecology is crucial in meeting the ever-increasing demand for the nourishment of almost 8 billion people in the world.

Definition of Agroecosystem

According to Gliessman (2014), agroecosystem is a created ecosystem. It is an ecosystem that is altered and manipulated to establish that piece of land for agricultural production. At the core of an agroecosystem is agriculture. An agroecosystem is not restricted to the immediate site of the agricultural activity (e.g., farm), but rather, the region that is impacted by this activity, usually by changes to the complexity of species assemblages and energy flow as well as to the nutrient balance.

Traditionally, an agroecosystem, notably one managed intensively, is characterized as having a simpler species composition. These ecosystems have simpler energy and nutrient flows than the natural ecosystem. Likewise, agroecosystems are often associated with high nutrient input. Much of the nutrients exit through farm loading to eutrophication of connected ecosystems not directly engaged in agriculture. Some major organizations are handling the agroecosystem. Current farming methods have resulted in overstretched water resources, high levels of erosion, and reduced soil fertility (Audiopedia, 2016).

Fig. 1. Farmland in Quezon, Palawan, exemplifies an agroecosystem.

Agroecosystem Characteristics

Human management alters a natural ecosystem’s structures and functions. Thus, agroecosystems usually are more challenging to study than natural ecosystems. Agroecosystems are human-made ecosystems that differ from natural ecosystems in many significant ways in terms of emergent properties related to its structure and function.

Table 1 compares natural ecosystems and agroecosystems using some key emergent qualities of natural ecosystems and the changes once converted to agroecosystems.

Table 1: Comparison of Natural Ecosystem and Agroecosystem in Terms of Emergent Properties (Gliessman, 2014; InTeGrate, 2018).

The Rise of Agroecology

Agroecology applies ecological concepts and principles in the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems. It draws on both natural ecosystems and traditional (local or indigenous) agroecosystem. It is a research approach that can be applied to converting unsustainable and conventional agroecosystems to sustainable ones. Both traditional and natural ecosystems have passed the test of time in terms of their long-term productive ability. However, each offers a different knowledge base from which to understand this ability.

There are many examples of traditional agroecosystems that demonstrate how culture and its local environment have co-evolved over time. These ecosystems strike a balance on the needs of people which are expressed as ecological, technological, and socio-economic factors.

Both systems demonstrate people’s concerns about the long-term sustainability of the system, rather than solely maximizing output and profit.

Sustaining Food Production through Well-Managed Agroecosystems

Responsible farming for food production promotes adherence to the sustainability principle. Sustainable agriculture, evidenced by the practice of Agroecology to provide the food needs of a growing population, appears to be a feasible solution.

However, there is an increasing realization among modern societies that production should focus not on just the volume of food produced but the kind or quality of food produced. Food preference shift from meat-based to a mainly vegetable or plant-based diet is recommended to achieve food sustainability.

The trend is a result of the negative externalities brought about by profit-oriented modern agriculture. Eutrophication, water pollution, and concerns about human health ensue.


Audiopedia (2016). What is agroecosystem? [youtube]. Retrieved on 10/28/2019 from

Gliessman, S. R. (2014). Agroecology: the ecology of sustainable food systems. CRC press.

InTeGrate (2018). Natural ecosystem and agroecosystem comparison. Retrieved on 10/28/2019 from

Environmental Issues

Natural Remedy to Mango Pulp Weevil Infestation: Evolution at Work?

Plants evolve their own defense to threats to its survival (Ryan, 1990). To prevent attacks to their fruits as a vehicle of sustaining the species, plants secrete substances that make them vulnerable to pests. Either they produce substances that are toxic to animals such as alkaloids, saponins, volatile oils, resins and phenolics. Or maybe a highly acidic sap that can kill intruding insects? This article presents the case of highly acidic sap that probably helped control mango pulp weevil infestation.

Mango Pulp Weevil

The latter mechanism may be at work in the recent experience I’ve had with mangoes grown just within our lot. Almost five years ago, I posted an article titled “Mango Pulp Weevil: A Pest Control Problem in Palawan Island” I saw first-hand how the mango pulp weevil (Sternochetus frigidus) escapes from the mango pulp to again re-infect other mangoes with its pulp destructive reproductive strategy. The mango weevil grows within the mango pulp! This reproductive strategy is damaging to the mango industry where many farmers depend as a source of livelihood.

Hence, out of curiosity, after years of not benefiting much from mangoes grown in our yard, I harvested fifty mangoes from our naturally grown mangoes. No pesticide was sprayed on the two 29-year old trees through the years. I wrapped the harvested green but mature mangoes with paper and cut a diamond hole to monitor its ripeness as the days go by.

Categories of Mangoes

Anticipating the presence of mango weevil, I listed three categories on whiteboard: 1) uninfected, normal mangoes, 2) infected mangoes, 3) mangoes infected with other mango diseases. I added the last category noting that there is a tendency of the mangoes to rot (Figure 1) even before they ripen.

mango rot
Figure 1. Mango with rotten part at stem portion.

After consuming and giving some mangoes to family and friends while asking for their feedback on the state of the mangoes, the following are the results:

Uninfected, normal mangoes: 48
Infected with mango weevil: none
Infected with other diseases: 2 (mango rot)

More Acidic Sap in Mango Controls Mango Pulp Weevil?

While this may be just anecdotal evidence, it is possible that the mango has developed a natural immunity against the mango weevil. Apparently, the mango sap has become more acidic than usual as when I harvested the mangoes, trickles of acid from the harvested portion hit my face. I felt a little burning sensation but regarded it lightly. However, after taking a bath and looking at the mirror, I noticed ugly streaks of burnt skin run through my face (Fig. 2). I never thought it could happen although when I searched online, indeed mango sap can cause phytoallergy among mango harvesters. Thankfully, the burnt skin healed after several days.

burnt skin
Figure 2. Skin surface burnt by mango sap.

While detaching the mango from the petiole, spurts of white sap burst forth from the fruit. There is strong pressure of escaping sap from the mango. So detaching a mango from its attachment should be done carefully to avoid skin contact with the highly corrosive sap.

Mango Sap Hypothesis

I recognize that a rigorous study need to be done to affirm this observation. The hypothesis for that full-scale study would be: The highly acidic sap of mangoes can kill or at least prevent mango weevil eggs from being inoculated in the mango pulp. The mango may have developed natural resistance to the mango weevil as pest. This may be a demonstration of Barry Commoner’s third law of ecology: Nature knows best.


Ryan, C. A. (1990). Protease inhibitors in plants: genes for improving defenses against insects and pathogens. Annual review of phytopathology28(1), 425-449.

© 2019 May 23 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (May 23, 2019). Natural Remedy to Mango Pulp Weevil Infestation: Evolution at Work? [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

Education Environmental Issues

Eight Doable Agricultural Practices to Mitigate the Impacts of Global Climate Change

Here are eight doable agricultural practices to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.

Billions of dollars were lost due to unpredictable climate changes all over the world. While debate rages on, whether climate change is man-induced or not, resolute actions must be done to mitigate the impacts associated with this global phenomenon.

It was originally pointed out by this author that the major contribution modern agricultural practices make to the global climate change scenario are emissions of greenhouse gases namely methane and carbon dioxide (see Regoniel, 2010). Since current agricultural practices is the recognized source of these greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation must therefore address issues concerning reduction of these greenhouse gases either through emission prevention or sequestration of atmospheric emissions especially of carbon.

How then can agricultural practices prevent or minimize greenhouse gas emissions as well as sequester back what has been emitted into the atmosphere?

Hereunder are eight doable agricultural practices to mitigate the impacts of global climate change:

1. Plant crop varieties that better reflect sunlight back out to space.

By planting crops that have high reflectivity or albedo, summertime temperatures could be reduced by more than one degree Celsius in places like Eurasia and central North America. This approach is referred to as bio-geoengineering. Selection of crops that have high reflectivity can reflect sunlight back out into space and lower global air temperature.

2. Undertake organic farming.

Organic farming enhances soil quality particularly in keeping the soil moist. Done on a large scale, these agricultural practices can prevent drying of land and land degradation due to the use of chemicals fertilizers.

3. Apply fertilizer precisely.

To reduce excessive emission of greenhouse gases as well as water pollution due to unabsorbed fertilizers, precise application of fertilizers is recommended by scientists.

4. Reduce consumption of meat.

Reducing the consumption of meat products on a global scale can decrease the amount of methane-producing animals raised to supply global demand for meat. This will also reduce land areas that need to be cleared for cattle grazing. These grazing lands can be grown with cover crops instead to serve as carbon sinks or storage. Also, crops with high albedo reflects back excessive sunlight into space as pointed out earlier.

5. Grow diverse crop varieties.

Growing diverse crop varieties that are less reliant on fertilizer and fossil fuel inputs can reduce crop vulnerability to unpredictable weather changes. This will be much more advantageous than monoculture farms which are susceptible, not only to extreme climatic conditions, but also to pest outbreaks during abnormal climate conditions such as those brought about by El Niño. Planting crops with a wide temperature threshold value or pest resistant species can ensure survival. Selection of indigenous plant material that evolved through time can therefore be a wise option to take.

6. Plant trees in strategic locations in farms.

Lost carbon sequestration capacity due to clear-cutting of trees for agriculture can be compensated by planting trees around farms or setting aside forest patches alongside farms. Care must be taken in selecting tree species to grow alongside farms as their fruits or flowers might attract crop predators or pests. This system is called agroforestry. Planting trees has the added benefit of serving as buffer against storms to prevent crop destruction.

Further, trees send their roots considerably deeper than the crops. This allows them to survive a drought and protect both crops and land from too much sun exposure thus minimize water evaporation. Tree roots also pump water into the upper soil layers where crops can tap it, and create spaces for water flow. Leaf litter also generates compost and serves as mulch to keep water from escaping rapidly into the atmosphere.

7. Stagger planting of crops.

Staggered planting of crops can prevent total crop failure due to abrupt climate shifts. Losses will also be minimized.

8. Use energy efficient systems (environmental technology) in running farms.

Use of energy efficient technologies can significantly reduce emission of greenhouse gases from farm machineries. Sunshine Farm in British Columbia has been farming without fossil fuels, fertilizers, or pesticides. It runs essentially on sunlight. They produce their own biodiesel from homegrown sunflower seeds and soybeans. Three-fourths of its feed for horses, cattle, and poultry are derived from the farm. Electricity is provided through a 4.5-kilowatt photovoltaic array.

Adoption of low-carbon environmental technologies such as wind, solar, biofuel, biomass, hydro- and geothermal power can make farms work in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Government policies that encourage the above agricultural practices can help mitigate global climate change impacts. And of course, policies become ineffective if these are not implemented by concerned government, non-government and private institutions.

Global climate change is a serious matter that should be addressed by environment-friendly agricultural practices whether this phenomenon is a normal part of the earth’s global temperature fluctuations or indeed it is anthropogenic or man-induced in nature.

e-Science News, 2009. Strategic farming practices could help mitigate global warming. Retrieved on April 2, 2010 at

Halweil, B., 2005. The irony of climate in Worldwatch Magazine. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Herro, A., 2008. Adjustments to agriculture may help mitigate global warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Hindu, The, 2009. India: Organic farming to mitigate global warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Maathai, W., 2009. Africa: Continent Must Protect Forests to Mitigate Global Warming. Retrieved on March 27, 2010 at

Regoniel, P.A., 2010. Two major agricultural causes of global climate change. Retrieved on April 2, 2010 at

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (November 29, 2017). Eight Doable Agricultural Practices to Mitigate the Impacts of Global Climate Change [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

Environment Environmental Issues

Water Wars in the Philippines

One of the most controversial issue our world faces today is the problem of utilization of water resources. It is an evident fact that water is one of the resources vital to human existence and has resulted to water wars. Countries along the Nile River particularly Egypt fight for control over the Nile River where 90 million of its people live . Further, water is susceptible to degradation and depletion.

Although almost two-thirds of the world’s surface is made up of water, only a small portion of this constitutes sources of potable water. At the onset of rapid urbanization and development, the proper management and distribution of water for varied uses becomes an immediate center of attention. This concern has caused different entities and groups to examine the present condition and to prescribe ways for management of some of the biggest water systems in the Philippines.

Small-scale water wars

People derive different uses from water sources. These uses include water for domestic use, irrigation, hydroelectric power generation and flood control systems.

Communities in the Philippines obtained their water supply from different sources such as rainfall, surface water resources, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and underground resources (Greenpeace, 2007). Some of the major water basins and water systems in the country include the Angat Reservoir, Laguna Lake, and Batangas City groundwater system.

However, events in the past and our condition provides a different image of water resource use in the country. Various governmental agencies currently share the magnitude of the work involved in gathering information and monitoring the water supply services in the country. These organizations include the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA, formerly NSO) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), (NEDA, 2010).

An article written by Guillermo Tabios and Cristina David in 2002 specified the different issues and conflicts involved in the sustainable use of water resource in the some of the Philippines’ important water systems. In the 1970s, the country experienced the need to meet the increasing water demands of the consumers. The situation led to serious problems for planners and decision makers.

Provisions of the Republic Act 9275, otherwise known as the “Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004”, specified that trade-offs in water use may be imposed. However, the said provision is not efficiently carried in the entire country. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is the lead agency that implements RA 9275. Previous reports and cases supporting the claim of weak implementation by the government were also evident (as stated in the case between Bulacan Farmers and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. Due to conflict of interests, changing the political landscape and weak justice system, resolution of cases that involves water use trade-offs are still being decided (as stated in the case between Bulacan farmers and MWSS).

water wars
A 21st-century water-use conflict among the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida in the US.

Another aspect that needs to be considered in this issue of water use is the physical system and operation of water systems. Planners and decision makers must be well-equipped with the required knowledge to relate the functions of the respective water systems relevant to its effects on the nearby ecosystems, surrounding communities, and different stakeholders. This point was significantly noted in the instance of the construction of Mangahan Floodway in Metro Manila. The Floodway was constructed to safeguard Metro Manila from floods. The floodway, however, caused flooding in the surrounding communities in the Taguig and Taytay area. This event goes to show that careful planning, especially those involving the construction of structures, should be carefully planned since these might also affect other neighboring areas.

Saltwater intrusion is also one issue that needs to be addressed. We all know that potable water for domestic use needs to be free of substances that might increase its salinity. Due to excessive pumping, groundwater aquifers and systems become prone to saltwater intrusion. This situation results when freshwater pressure can no longer repel that of saltwater, leading to intrusion. This occurrence increases the salinity level of water beyond the treatable condition. When this happens, costly processes must be carried out to treat water for domestic use. Nevertheless, not all government agencies and private companies in the country can afford to employ such process.

Another issue is the worsening effect of pollution on our water supply. Much of our water resources are being exposed to chemical and toxic substances that may lead to worse environmental and health problems. Water pollution due to poor sanitation and untreated wastewater contributes significantly to the degrading quality of our existing water supply. Results showed that polluted water may cause several health problems such as gastroenteritis, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (PEM, 2003).

Possible recommendations to prevent water wars

Ultimately, a greater portion of responsibility lies with the agencies of the government that manage the utilization of water resources. To prevent water wars, responsible government agencies should work together. Though each organization has different stakeholders that they need to cater, it is still best that they harmonize their respective schemes and equitably share our existing water resources.

Efficient monitoring of water quality and supply should also be carried out regularly. The conduct of researches and studies is highly recommended. With the results of these studies, the government, including the planners and decision makers, will be provided with the proper basis that may be used to review our existing laws about water resources use.

All of us should realize that water is a finite and scarce resource. Such can only be attained if we work hand-in-hand to preserve these resources and prevent water wars.


(1) David, C and Tabios, G. (2002). Competing Uses of Water: The Cases of Angat Reservoir, Laguna Lake and Groundwater systems of Batangas City and Cebu City. Philippine Institute for Development Studies. 20, (6).

(2) Philippines, National Economic and Development Authority. (2010). Philippine Water Supply Sector Roadmap, 2nd Edition. Pasig City, Philippines.

(3) Greenpeace-Southeast Asia. (2007). State of Water in the Philippines. Quezon City, Philippines.

Cite this article as: Jeneferlyn Yap (November 8, 2016). Water Wars in the Philippines [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from

Forest Management: The Evolution of the Government’s Role

There is much to say when it comes to the issue of forest management, i.e., its protection and conservation, in the Philippines. So much had changed since the year when Presidential Decree 705 or the “Forestry Reform Code” was enacted.

The role of the government from then, and until now was seen to be less centralized and more participatory when it comes to forest management. But whether or not these efforts and initiatives are instrumental to sustainable forest management is still arguable. As the community and the public to that extent becomes more involved, and as we continue to change the social and political landscape of this nation, it becomes imperative that we continue to appraise and evaluate our situation as often as possible.

The Reality of Forest Management in the Philippines

In 2001, Ben Malayang III noted in his article “The Changing Role of Government in Forest Protection”, that only one percent (1%) of the causes of forest losses come from illegal logging. Though the author clearly emphasized the discrepancies to the data, there is still much to discuss.

The data we have here in Palawan could be used to claim wholesomely that illegal logging, especially those of premium wood species, constitute a significant percentage of events that contribute to diminishing forest resources. The cases of illegal logging in the province do encompass not only those operating on the large scale but also those small-scale illegal loggers. This practice was evident with the apprehension of thousands of board feet of Narra, Ipil and Kamagong in a resort in Culion, Palawan last 2015.

forest management
Illegal logging threatens the sustainability of ecological services.

Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force

To solve the issue on continued illegal logging in the province, a multi-partite Anti-illegal Logging Task Force was created. Different government agencies compose the task force, including the Provincial Government of Palawan, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

Once illegal loggers are apprehended, the enforcers from the different enforcement agencies face another problem when it comes to filing of cases and prosecution in court. Most of the time, apprehensions lack substantial evidence and legal instrument. This shortcoming results in a weak prosecution of cases that often leads to dismissal.

Furthermore, several other causes aggravate illegal logging such as kaingin (swidden agriculture) and land use conversion. It goes to show that there are still much to do when it comes to enforcement of forest-related laws and ordinances.

The Local Government Code as a Tool for Forest Management

The ratification of the Local Government Code (LGC) in 1991 augmented the changing role of the government and the community towards forest management. Selected provisions of LGC mandated the central government to devolve some of its powers to the local government units.

The law would have been beneficial to the larger population. However, such powers and authority were not appropriately complemented with corresponding funds and machinery – causing the LGUs and the local leaders to fall short in monitoring and implementation. This weakness led to the involvement of private groups.

The extent of responsibility and the volume of work of the government are not well-complemented by its existing resources. Thus, the government has to find ways to reinforce limitations by involving private groups to partake not only in the decision-making process but also in the implementation and operational phases of certain projects.

Nevertheless, as more players and entities become more involved, the more complex the political spectrum becomes. It becomes harder to impose the provisions of relevant laws since more interests are being brought into the process.

The Role of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) in Forest Management

Another issue is the lack of legal bases as to the regulation of the use of forest lands and resources among the indigenous groups. At present, we have the IPRA Law which safeguards the interests of the indigenous people in place of national laws. We need to respect the laws of the land without necessarily displacing and robbing our fellow indigenous communities of their rights. It is only necessary that we harmonize these laws with one another.

In the end, it is also our responsibility to offer our services towards achieving common grounds in managing our forest resources. Sustainable development cannot be achieved alone. People participation, effort, and cooperation are needed for us to build a better nation.

Cite this article as: Jeneferlyn Yap (August 31, 2016). Forest Management: The Evolution of the Government’s Role [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from
Environment Research

The Default Theory

I have been thinking about this concept for quite a time. And I am convinced that advancing this idea as a theory can help explain the phenomenon that commonly beset human affairs, i.e., nothing happens, or nothing changes without deliberate and sustained effort to institute changes. I call this the Default Theory.

The Default Theory I have in mind applies to many cases of human endeavor. Although there is a theory by Timothy Levine called Truth-Default Theory or TDT, the theory I am advancing is entirely different from his description.

For example, I disseminated information among colleagues that there is an opportunity for innovation and development proposals to be potentially funded heavily by the Commission on Higher Education. The initiative is part of the government’s effort to minimize the adverse effects of the K-12 Transition Program.

A week was given to comply with the simple requirement of submitting a one or two-page concept paper to the funding agency. The concept paper preludes the preparation of a full-blown research proposal once the proposed concept is accepted.

I discussed the rationale, explained the mechanics and gave all the forms to be accomplished to the unit heads. I thought they would appreciate the effort and be motivated likewise to disseminate the information to the 400-500 faculty members of the university. I also explored possible topics as starting points that the group can follow through.

Even while disseminating the information and being hopeful that they will respond to the call, at the back of my mind, I somehow anticipate that nobody will submit or make the extra effort to present their proposals. By default, nothing gets done for some reason. Almost always, nothing gets done despite efforts to make a change.

And nobody did submit except me as I took extra effort to make a submission on or before the deadline. I am aware of the Default Theory. Things happen as they should if no additional effort is done to counter its effect. I have done this action several times, and I made changes and took a career turn. I counteract the default with deliberate, sustained effort to do something.

urban sprawl
Eutrophication of coastal areas occurs by default.

When applied to dealing with environmental issues or concerns which are my cup of tea, the Default Theory works likewise.

For example, for many years and after so many ideas, suggestions, propositions, projects, programs among others that arise to counter the effects of environmental degradation, the default prevails. That is, nothing gets accomplished that significantly and with lasting impact.

If you attend conferences or read scientific papers, the issue of environmental problems such as pollution, illegal trade, over-extraction, and similar problems faced decades back remain. The default is that nothing gets done, at least on a sustainable manner, even with much effort and expense. There may be successes, but history reveals that everything goes back to board one through time. Gains are not sustainable.

So where does this bring us?

It all starts with the recognition that this phenomenon exists. And deliberate, sustained effort to counter the “business as usual” must be made.

Environmental Issues Health Research

Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep

Does electromagnetic radiation emitted from modern digital devices affect sleep? This article explores and describes electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep based on scientific evidence. Read on to find out.

In an earlier post, I described the effect of blue light emitted from laptop or tv screens to sleeping patterns. But knowing this and taking action to prevent exposure to blue light apparently is not enough. I still had difficulty sleeping despite reducing my exposure to blue light. Blue light reduces melatonin levels thus disturb sleep.

I thought emissions from the WiFi adapter in my laptop might have something to do with my insomnia. So I hooked the laptop and the router together using a 10-meter RJ-45 cable run through the ceiling. I then switched off the built-in WiFi adapter on my laptop to a wired internet connection. Apparently, I slept soundly because of this change.

My experience could be considered an anecdotal evidence that the emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) can affect sleep. I thought my observation can lend support from the scientific literature. Hence, as is my usual routine, I browsed Google Scholar for relevant research on electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep.

Is there a relationship between EMR and sleep? What does research say about the electromagnetic radiation effect on sleeping patterns? Are they related at all?

Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep

The following five papers that describe the electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep can be convincing enough.

1. Chronic (or long-term) electromagnetic field exposure causes abnormal tissue death in the brain. It also causes lung damage, paralysis, muscle tremors, and bone pain (Worthington 2007).

2. Residents exposed to electromagnetic radiation from telecommunications towers suffer insomnia. In addition, they noted other non-specific health symptoms. These symptoms include headache, giddiness, loss of memory, diarrhea, mental slowness, reduced reaction time and mood swing (Suleiman 2014).

3. Radiation from cell phone base station affects the adrenal glands. The glands stimulate the production of adrenalin and cortisol. Excess adrenaline causes insomnia (Goldsworthy 2012).

4. Electromagnetic radiation from network routers can disturb sleep (Stein 2015).

5. Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) before sleep alters brain activity thus affect sleep (Regel 2007).

These findings demonstrate dose-response relationship. This means that small doses of EMR may not cause health problems. But larger doses can produce health symptoms upon reaching a certain threshold level. The present youth are particularly vulnerable, as their life revolves around the use of these gadgets either for serious school work or at play.

electromagnetic radiation effect
electromagnetic radiation effect Radiation dose chart

Steps to Avoid Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure

One of the papers recommended that governments should impose new regulations on EMR-emitting communications infrastructure. Locating cell phone stations away from densely populated regions can reduce health risk. Chronic or long-term exposure to EMR-emitting gadgets such as cellphones, tablets, laptops, among others in the information age should be avoided.

To reduce electromagnetic radiation effects on your health, take the following steps:

1. Avoid using your electronic gadgets close to your body. Use an earphone when calling someone.

2. Connect to the internet using a cable as much as possible. If you can do so, switch off your WiFi adapter. The adapter emits more radiation the distance increases from the router. Weak router signals mean more electromagnetic radiation emitted by your gadget’s receiver.

3. Avoid going to places where people converge and use their cell phones such as malls and buses.

4. Do not sleep with your cell phone on and next to you.

5. Do not put your cellphone in your pocket. EMR has been known to cause infertility problems.

6. Avoid living near cellphone base stations. If living near one, block your house from incoming radiation with reflective aluminum insulation and painted walls.

7. Inform others about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. Encourage them to take action so that emission of EMR in your workplace or community will be reduced.

The worry of the future generation is not about visible air pollution as environmental technology gradually keeps it at bay. Invisible radiation, due to our modern communications systems, is a threat that now shows its symptoms.

What you can’t see can harm you.


Goldsworthy, A. (2012). Cell phone radiation and harmful effects: Just how much more proof do you need?.

Regel, S. J., Tinguely, G., Schuderer, J., Adam, M., Kuster, N., Landolt, H. P., & Achermann, P. (2007). Pulsed radio‐frequency electromagnetic fields: dose‐dependent effects on sleep, the sleep EEG and cognitive performance. Journal of sleep research, 16(3), 253-258.

Stein, Y., Hänninen, O., Huttunen, P., Ahonen, M., & Ekman, R. (2015). Electromagnetic Radiation and Health: Human Indicators. In Environmental Indicators (pp. 1025-1046). Springer Netherlands.

Suleiman, A., Gee, T. T., Krishnapillai, A. D., Khalil, K. M., Hamid, M. W. A., & Mustapa, M. (2014). Electromagnetic radiation health effects in exposed and non-exposed residents in Penang. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2(02), 77.

Worthington, A. (2007). The radiation poisoning of America. GlobalResearch. ca, October, 9.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick (May 14, 2016). Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep [Blog Post]. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from
Environment Health

SCUBA Diving in Tubbataha Reef for the First Time

I ventured to SCUBA dive in Tubbataha Reefs (in 1993 declared a World Heritage Site) for the first time last April 12, 2015 after a hiatus of almost seven years because of a health condition. My last reef dive was in Middle Rock, a site where the waves meet and cause seasickness among our companions left in the boat in Port Barton, San Vicente on August 8, 2008.

The recent dive in Tubbataha is my 71st and 72nd SCUBA dive sessions. But during the 71st dive, I almost became another victim of a strong undercurrent. Here is my story and some lessons learned.

It was a Sunday, about 9 o’clock in the morning when we started out to Black Rock, a dive spot located northeast of South Atoll of Tubbataha Reef. I attempted to dive the day before but had trouble equalizing so I tried again that day. I had a sinus operation three years back due to a bad case of nose bleeding which could impact on my diving performance. This worries me, but I’d rather try than just guess if I’m fit to dive.

The original plan was for me to hold on to the anchor’s rope of a nearby motor yacht and gradually descend into the bottom while equalizing. While on the dive boat I contemplated the 100 or so meter swim to the rope. Shall I swim and hold on to the rope then gradually descend or descend right there and then in the clear waters?

coral wall diving
Diving next to a wall of corals is unlike diving in a reef flat.

I donned my SCUBA gear a bit anxious of my ears not equalizing underwater. My dive master companion assured me that a protected area ranger will watch me as I descend. That may be comforting but that did not relieve me of my worries.

I held the top portion of my mask and made sure air comes through easily in the second stage of the SCUBA diving regulator. The air flow seems okay. I also made sure that my snorkel is attached firmly to the mask. I tilted my body towards the water and fell backwards at the side of the dive boat, down into the water with a big splash because of the heavy tank.

Seeing my two dive master companions underwater gave me second thought on swimming towards the motor yacht to hang on. I decided to descend directly as time is of the essence.

I have done this before, why not now? I thought.

The beautiful coral reefs and marine life in Tubbataha are just irresistible. It is a rare chance to be in a World Heritage Site known worldwide as one of the best dive spots.

And so, after a few minutes, with occasional pain in my ears as I descend and ascend a little to ease the pain, I landed on the bottom of the sea at a depth of about 65 feet. It seemed my weights have been too heavy as I added two more 2 pound lead weights on my belt aside from the metal integrated in my buoyancy control device (BCD). My buddies came over to check on my gears and I made an OK sign with my thumb and index finger.

Sharks and Strong Undercurrent

We toured the area awhile before I signaled my male buddy (the other one’s a young lady dive master) to take a video of my instant refresher dive. I couldn’t understand his reaction as he motioned to his camera and signaled he is going to ascend. I learned later that he has to set his camera.

My lady buddy placed her two index fingers together, meaning, I will follow or accompany her. She has a GoPro camera around her wrist and I understood as she swam away.

I followed her as she swam towards the edge of the reef. She’s going deeper looking for interesting creatures to document. I followed suit until we encountered a group of sharks, probably white tips, swimming in the opposite direction.

reef shark
A white tip reef shark.

I was just a few meters away from her when suddenly, I felt a sudden tug of current pulling me away from her. I realized that a streaming current is lifting me up towards the surface. I can hear my dive computer emit rapid bursts of beeps indicating I was ascending too fast and I could hear my ear pop. I thought to myself that this could be the end of me. I may be in the news that day as a diver casualty.

Instinctively, knowing that the sudden ascent can cause Nitrogen bubbles in my body and cause decompression sickness or bends and probably unconsciousness, I kicked upwards while pushing the water up a few times in a desperate move to go deep again and prevent disaster. I also have to avoid jerky movements as I know sharks are nearby and I might catch their attention. I don’t want to be mistaken for a struggling fish.

I succeeded as I found myself back underwater so rapidly that my eardrum was so painful. My eardrum would have burst had I dove deeper. I tried to calm myself by breathing slowly to establish neutral buoyancy.

Reunited Divers and Snorkelers

After my successful attempt to swim back to the depths, I saw my lady buddy staring at me about fifty meters away. I was glad to see she was alright.

I motioned with my hand for her to come and join me as the strong current carries us to another spot. I held on to a projecting rock and held on to it until she came right next to me.

Upon closing in, my buddy gave me her camera as she spooled back the string that connects to a surface marker buoy (SMB) oriented parallel to the surface indicating the current is quite strong. She wrapped her arm around mine to prevent us from drifting apart as she gradually released the balloon towards the surface for the dive boat skipper to see. I was breathing so heavily I thought I’d finish off the air in the tank before we reach the surface.

I feel relieved being back to the dive boat after several minutes and seeing our worried team leader get a sigh of relief. I survived!

Our snorkeling companions had likewise troubling stories because of that sudden current sweep underwater. One snorkeler drank seawater and panicked. Luckily, everyone made it to the boat safely.

While on the boat, I halfheartedly resolved not to dive again. But upon my dive buddy’s invitation to dive in the afternoon that day, I could not resist but join the two master divers once again.

The second dive that day released me from my traumatic experience as I dove, also for the first time, along a wall of colorful, thriving corals and reef fishes without the swift current. My health worry is gone and I am able to SCUBA dive again.


I learned later that my lady buddy thought I was just behind her while she takes a video of a group of white tip sharks, probably a dozen of them. She was rattled when she saw I was gone but was relieved upon my re-submergence at a distance.

Ecosystem Dynamics Environment

Human-Beings and Ecosystem Interaction: The Complex Adaptive System

Without ecosystem services provided by the environment, human-beings cannot survive nor exist. Human-environment interaction is common to us. It is the usual scene every time we, humans, wake up in the morning and continue the routine of living.

For a moment, can you describe the details if you will be asked, what are the interactions between an individual and his environment? By posing for a while and observing what is really happening, I have found that the relations between human-beings and environment are complex.

In this article, we will see the reality of complex relations between ecosystem and human-beings within one of the remote communities in the island of Palawan that we have visited.

Human-environment interaction are complex adaptive systems. It is complex because ecosystem and social system have many parts that are interconnected and interdependent with each other. Adaptive since it has feedback structures that promote survival in a continuously changing environment.

Humans are highly dependent on the environment. Ecosystem services such as food, water, clothing, shelter, timber and many other resources are essential for human-beings survival. By using these resources, people affect the environment in a lot of ways. Humans modify the existing ecosystem for their purposes and benefits as well as develop new strategies that seem to be more effective in serving their needs.

The type of society strongly affects the attitude and behavior of people towards nature, and therefore brings impacts on ecosystem. Some of the significant characteristics include population size, social organization, knowledge, culture, belief and many more. Values, knowledge and cultures strongly influence peoples’ “view and principles of life” and subsequently define the way people act. The choice of possible actions is then limited by the available resources and technologies.

The Pala’wans – Environment Interaction

The Pala’wan tribe who have settled in the southern part of Palawan island have simple way of living. They are highly dependent on the availability of natural resources within their areas. The practice of traditional agriculture like slash-and-burn farming is one of their ways to produce staple food such as rice, cassava and other endemic crops. They also know unique strategies in fishing and hunting of several wild animals. For thousands of years, their lives are linked with the environment. Their rich traditional knowledge reflects and embodies a cultural and spiritual relationship with the land, river and wildlife.

The selected photo below shows how Pala’wans are connected with the environment. It was taken in May 2013 when my dad and I, together with my group mates in research study in college, visited Sitio Bayabas, Barangay Bunog, Rizal, Palawan. The site is located within Mt. Mantalingahan, one of the protected areas in the province of Palawan.

The site is considered as one of the sacred places of the Pala’wans. Thus, only limited people are allowed to visit the area. And we are fortunate to have that opportunity! Once more, I’m so blessed to witness these great creations of the Lord.

©2013 Shellemai Roa

The Aesthetic Value of the Site

The aesthetic view of the place is like a paradise. You are free to hear the natural sound of murmuring water from a waterfall that continuously flows and rushes within the blocks of big rocks; it has crystal clear running waters with bluish and greenish color in some parts that seems like a confined pool with fresh and cold water; the fresh gentle breeze that touches your skin with whispering sounds around your ear; the sound of chirping birds and other insects around; as well as the views of mountains, really gives relaxation, peace of mind, thanksgiving and enjoyment to human-being like me. These natural services provided by the ecosystem cannot be compared to any man-made structure.

The Interrelationship of Each System

By looking deeper into the relationship of every factor present in the area, other interactions were recorded. These include the different biogeochemical cycles that sustain the homeostasis of the environment. For instance, sun is the critical source of energy for every living organism, both biotic and abiotic factors. Without it, no one can exist, including human-beings.

The communities benefit from the oxygen produced by vegetation in the area (including us who visited them as well as in a global aspect for it cannot be confined in an area). On the other hand, plants use the carbon dioxide released by humans and animals as well as other organisms that release the same, for the process of photosynthesis to take place.

Direct Benefits Obtained in the site by the Community

Aside from the indirect value of the resources in the area, the water source supplies the needs of the Pala’wans for cooking, cleaning, bathing or swimming and other purposes. Moreover, hunting of wild animals, fishes, shrimps and other crustaceans is one of the major sources of food of the Pala’wan. The provision of these resources support the lives of the tribe. They use arrows in hunting fishes or shrimps. What is so good about them in gathering of resources is they observe proper utilization.

During the trek, Rowel, a Pala’wan, tried to hunt some shrimps for lunch. However, during those times, shrimps are not fully grown yet; thus, he did not collect any.

The Pala’wan also believe that they will suffer in the near future if the available resources are exploited. Furthermore, they believe that every place is guarded by gods and goddesses who take care of the area and they will be punished once they over-use the resources.

fishing using spear
©2013 Shellemai Roa

Intangible institutions like these lead to environmental conservation. Beliefs, cultures and traditional knowledge drive their attitudes and values toward their interaction with natural ecosystem.

Human-environment interaction is observed in every action that we do. Human activities increase or mitigate pressure on the environment. The driving forces which initiate human activities are mainly socio-economic and socio-cultural forces.

Thus, it is very important that we examine the consequences of our actions before we start to act. Consider the impacts that it will bring to ecosystem for we have a very complex system – a system that is interrelated to one another in which an action in one factor is connected to the rest of ecosystem.

©2015 April 18 Shellemai A. Roa

Cases Environmental Economics Environmental Issues

The Economic Loss of Rice Farms Due to Sea Level Rise and Farmer Adaptations

How are research topics arrived at? One of the ways on how to identify a phenomenon worthy of research investigation is to go out on field and ask questions.

This article discusses how research topics in environmental science can be generated through interaction with community members as clients of the research outputs. Specifically, it examined the issue of sea level rise as a pressing issue threatening the rice production capacity of a community living next to Malampaya Sound, a marine biodiversity rich body of water located northeast of Palawan Island. It was once dubbed the ‘fish bowl’ of the Philippines.

The trip yesterday to Abongan, a farming community in the municipality of Taytay located 167 kilometers northeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan (Figure 1), was a fruitful one. I discovered an environmental issue that could be a good research topic to explore. The rice farmers in that community experience the negative effects of sea level rise – a manifestation of climate change. This issue arose as our research team conducted a focus group discussion with agriculture stakeholders.

sea level rise
A map showing the location of sea level rise affected farmlands in Abongan (Map source:

Salt water inundated and changed a portion of the farmlands into mangrove stands. The phenomenon started way back in 1994, according to the barangay chairman of Abongan.

Reminded of the environmental economics perspective on evaluating environmental issues, a question popped in my mind: “How much in terms of money is the value lost by farmers each year because of the advancing sea waters?”

The Economic Loss of Rice Farms Due to Sea Level Rise

To objectively examine the issue discussed earlier, let us enumerate and assume the value of the different variables at play in this phenomenon:

  1. Area of farmland affected by sea level rise: 200 hectares
  2. Number of cavans of unhusked rice grains (palay) produced per hectare: 100
  3. Percentage of rice (bigas) produced in a cavan of palay: 25% or 1/4
  4. Price per kilogram of rice: PhP42 or $0.92
  5. Kilograms of rice per cavan: 50
  6. Number of croppings per year: 2
  7. Percentage of return from farm investment: 50%

The net loss of income on annual basis, therefore, can be computed by converting the net income from rice produced per hectare to the number of hectares affected. This is obtained by multiplying the number of kilos of rice produced per hectare to current price. This is equal to 25 cavans or 1,250 kilograms times PhP42 ($0.92); that gives a total of PhP52,500 ($1,150) per hectare.

If 200 hectares are affected by sea level rise each year, the total value of rice yield per hectare will be PhP10,500,000 ($48,300) per cropping season. Since there are two cropping seasons per year, total annual loss in income will be double this amount.

The annual loss in income of farms in Abongan, therefore, will be PhP21,000,000 or $96,600. Since the percentage of return from investment is roughly 50%, the annual loss in net income is half this final value which is the same value obtained for one cropping season, i.e., PhP10,500,000 ($48,300).

The value given above assumes that the area of affected farmland is the same. But farmers observed that saltwater goes further inland each year. This causes anxiety among farm owners especially those whose land lie next to rivers.

Adaptation of Rice Farmers to Sea Level Rise

Currently, some of the farmers build dikes to prevent saltwater from flowing into their farms. There’s also a plan to increase the flow of freshwater from the watershed to their farms.

Further reflecting on the issue, three questions came to my mind:

  • What species of mangroves successfully settled in the upper reaches of the river next to farms?
  • What are the other adaptations measures did farmers make to mitigate the advancing waters aside from dikes and increased freshwater flow?
  • What is the salinity of river water next to farms?

Now, can you appreciate the value of having to go out in the field and identify environmental issues that hound communities? In the process of finding answers to questions, the outcome of your study will be helpful inputs that will empower communities.

Figuring out your research topic in the four corners of the classroom will offer you less ideas to pursue. Get up and explore the world.

©2015 January 11 P. A. Regoniel