Frolic in the floods
My sister shared video clips of young and adults alike frolicking in flooded areas in Cebu City last Sunday, the 1st day of September. There was fun in the air. No one seemed concerned about drowning, contracting leptospirosis and other forms of ailments or wondering why a tropical depression can cause such a huge inundation of waters. Tropical depression Liwayway brought heavy rains that made rivers out of our streets.
A day before that, a powerful Category 4 Hurricane Doria was tracked through satellite inching towards the Bahamas. By Tuesday, it unleashed its destructive force and damage is widely described as ‘catastrophic’ and the worst to hit the islands, especially in Grand Bahama and Abaco. Homes are destroyed. Hospitals and airports are crippled, with 60,000 people needing food, water and emergency supplies, according to the United Nations and Red Cross.
It is a strong reminder of what the country went through in November, 2013 when Category 5 Typhoon Yolanda, wreaked havoc and destroyed thousands of lives and resources in Bantayan, Tacloban, Carles, Palawan and many parts of the country.
Hurricane Dorian and super typhoon Yolanda exemplify what scientists describe as stronger and more frequent typhoons and weather aberrations, among other devastating impacts, as a result of climate change.
Have we learned the lessons of Yolanda and so many other disasters that battered our country? The answer is a resounding NO.
Policies and programs should already look into impacts on agriculture, fisheries, ecosystems, energy, health, water, human settlements, among other important considerations.
Stop coal power plants, fossil fuel energy exploration, dump-and-fill aka reclamation and other projects which are in collision with the State’s commitment to the people to guarantee their rights to life, health and a balanced and healthful ecology, which necessarily include a balanced climate system.
“The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures and extreme rainfall. This is due to its high exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, landslides, floods, droughts), dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources and vast coastlines where all major cities and the majority of the population reside.”
A holistic and participatory crafting of Local Climate Change Action Plan and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan is mandatory under our national laws. The good Mayor’s creation of a Task Force on Flooding is a stop-gap measure but will not be adequate. We have to face this climate emergency head-on.
As my favorite change-maker, Greta Thunberg, said, “The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue we have ever faced. The easiest because we know what we must do. We must stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. The hardest because our current economics are still totally dependent on burning fossil fuels, and thereby destroying ecosystems in order to create everlasting economic growth.”
It is time for us to stop the habit of making light of a potentially dangerous situation – let us do our part and move government and fellow stakeholders to fight climate change sincerely.
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