The era of intense storms and consequences

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos September 16,2018 - 08:33 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”

Those are words of wisdom from world-famous Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, that resonates for not a few, especially in this part of the world visited by an average of 20 typhoons yearly.

But, for those caught in the eye and the might of the storm, the latest being the super typhoon Ompong (international name is Mangkhut) which wrought havoc to a quarter million of our countrymen last weekend, patiently accepting the storm’s fury is furthest from their minds. Anxieties and fear whether they and their family can survive the onslaught haunted them every second of the wind’s violent howl and the merciless rainfall.

Some unfortunately lost their precious lives largely from the avalanche of treeless earth and rolling boulders that swiftly covered their houses or the rampaging waters that swept away their only sanctuary.

Many families are still in evacuation centers. Some may have to stay longer or be relocated elsewhere.

At the same time that Typhoon Ompong and Hurricane Florence hit the Philippines and North Carolina in the United States, there were recorded four active tropical cyclones simultaneously. This happening was out of the ordinary.

“Typhoons barreling into the vulnerable Philippines have become more intense over the last 45 years and wrought rising damages,” according to a study written by researchers at the Royal Meteorological Society in the International Journal of Climatology. In said study, in a period from 1971-2013, the average cost of damages rose from US$2-3 million to $100 million a year.

Their prior research “has linked rising sea temperatures to more frequent storms since the 1970s.”
National Geographic explains this well: “When water heats up, it expands. Thus, the most readily apparent consequence of higher sea temperatures is a rapid rise in sea level. Sea level rise causes inundation of coastal habitats for humans as well as plants and animals, shoreline erosion, and more powerful storm surges that can devastate low-lying areas.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change likewise observes that “Due to rising sea-levels, the densely populated “mega-deltas” especially in Asia and Africa and small islands are most at risk from floods, storms, and coastal flooding and eventual submerging, with a potential impact on tens of millions of people.”

It is time to take stock and accept that climate change effects are real and that it is our responsibility to mitigate the impacts for the sake of our children and grandchildren and the biodiversity that depend on healthy and functioning ecosystems.

Let us be the solution. Sustainable living starts with each one of us.

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TAGS: climate change, Ompong, Paulo Coelho, Philippines, United States

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