‘Right’ disaster?


The window to ease the impacts of global warming is closing more rapidly than earlier estimated, says the World Bank in a study released last Wednesday. Sea level surges will double as mountain glaciers melt. They’ll interlock with intense storms inflicting deaths and damage.

What happens when, in the words of the study, “rainfall becomes more sporadic and, in rainy season, even more intense”? Inquirer’s Michael Tan sketches a graphic answer from “Emong,” this season’s first storm.

“Monday night, I broke my own record of airport commuting ordeals, clocking 13 hours to get from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to my home in San Juan. I left Naia at about 5:30 p.m. in a taxi.” By 8 p.m., Tan was still stuck in Makati. At 11 p.m., he gave up and took a hotel room. “I finally got home at 6:30 a.m. the next day.”

Hindi ka nag-iisa, supporters of political prisoner Ninoy Aquino used to say. Thousands were also stranded. Storm “Fabian” lurks around the corner. And rainy season’s end is still 17 or more typhoons away.

Among seven cities, Manila is second most at risk from climate change, reports the 2013 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which studied 197 countries. Others are: Dhaka, Bangkok, Yangon, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and Calcutta.

Rising sea levels could uproot 13.6 million Filipinos by 2050, the Asian Development Bank projected in an earlier study titled “Addressing Climate Change and Migration in Asia and the Pacific.” Three typhoons, in as many years, lashed Mindanao. The island used to reel from a wayward storm every 17 years or so.

World leaders are committed to curb greenhouse emissions and tamp down temperature increases to about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, (2 degrees Celsius). There are concerns “that temperatures will soar to 5 degrees Celsius over a century,” the 2012 World Bank study noted.

The 2013 study, therefore, narrowed the focus on the next few years. The heaviest impact will slam parts of Asia most prone to flooding and harsh tropical storms, it warned. Bangkok could be swamped by floods in 2030. Hanoi’s just-built new flood control systems are obsolete. Rising ocean temperatures and saltwater intrusion into rivers could ruin local fisheries. Fish is a key source of protein for the people of Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Countries must redo earlier estimates. A projected 20-centimeter sea-level rise here over the next 40 years is an obsolete projection. This threat still runs “along the Pacific seaboard: from Samar to eastern Mindanao,” Wendy Clavano wrote in “Environmental Science for Social Change.” Only it is more severe.

The high-risk provinces flank Lingayen Gulf, Camotes Sea, Guimaras Strait, waters along Sibuyan and central Sulu, plus bays in Iligan, Lamon and Bislig. Chances of Manila flooding yearly rose to 65 percent, and Davao’s to 90 percent, estimates Clavano, a Cornell University PhD holder. “Rising sea level took a back seat because increased flooding had a more immediate effect.”

This issue is a major stumbling block to alleviating global poverty, warned World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Progress of the last 20 years could be set back if nations must divert scarce resources to recover from storms and natural disasters. Those funds are needed in health, education and other services.

The bank will provide loans for Asian countries to cope with inevitable climate shifts. It prods agribusinesses to focus “on how major crops can be altered to live with less water, hotter temperatures.” Support is given for crop science and genetics. Will scientists win the race to produce drought-resistant varieties of corn and other plants—or lose to mass hunger, say in Sub-Saharan Africa? A “magic bullet” may prove elusive.

In a report released Friday in Nairobi, the UN Environment Programme said that the private sector’s future will hinge on its ability to develop goods and services that reduce impacts from sea levels to emissions of harmful chemicals.

“GEO-5 for Business: Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Corporate Sector” notes significant business opportunities for greener urban construction and retrofits. These are in cities where 60 percent of infrastructure still has to be built. Markets for organic food and beverages expanded by 10 to 20 percent yearly during the last decade. Companies certified as sustainable food producers can also tap into growing customer demand.

Eight out of 10 Filipinos say they “personally experienced” climate change impacts over the last three years, Social Weather Stations found in a survey conducted March 19-22, 2013. The affected proportions were highest in the National Capital Region (91 percent). Luzon had 87 percent; the Visayas, 84 percent; and Mindanao, 78 percent.

Many survey respondents say they have to fully understand climate change’s impacts. Thirty-seven percent participated in at least one effort to reduce risks resulting from climate change (e.g., contacted civil society organizations, gave donations, etc.). And 63 percent said they did not do anything.

At a Bonn meeting last week, Bangladesh said its cities plan to adapt to more water. It allocated $470 million to grow forests on the coastal belt and build multistory shelters to house cyclone victims. Thailand awarded bids for flood management. “Solutions to the problem of rising seas are being studied.”

Cebu is the most ecologically brittle of Philippine cities. Debate swirls around Rep. Tomas Osmeña’s becoming barangay captain. That would wedge him into the city council—and place him in position to harass reelected Mayor Mike Rama.

“We are on the verge of a global transformation,” billionaire David Rockefeller said. “All we need is the right major crisis.” Is this it?


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  • josh_alexei

    Had the warn weather came earlier in Southern Alberta, it would have mitigated the Massive Flooding just now, but as they say, it was water under the bridge, over the bridge and gone with the bridges. The Flood is confluence of heavy rain earlier (somewhere in the 40 mm) that already soaked the STILL partly frozen earth and was Followed within few hours by a heavy non Stop 160 mm in less than 24 hours and the rest is the Greatest Flood that was more than Three times the magnitude of the 2005 that overflowed the same two Rivers that run thru the Oil Capital of Canada, the city of Calgary..

    But thank goodness to the quick action of the RCMP and with the help of the soldiers of the Princess Patricia Light Brigade, the lose to human lives was minimized to only 3 and one missing…further south, which the rivers are expected to overflow their banks today, Monday, the RCMP already did a house to house evacuation of the residents in the affected areas. Property damages could be in the Billions, but as many residents would say, they will rebuild and as long as they are safe, they will return. Thanks to our Police Officers and our Troops for the Job well done.

    • cogito728sum

      It is a pity if Calgary doesn’t recover before one of the world’s much visited annual spectacles, the Calgary Stampede, the pride of every Calgarian, ushers in next month. It personally hurts because aside from my familiarity with the city, I was a long-time resident of its sister city to the south, Lethbridge,which also sits more than 3000 ft. above sea level. And it is reported that together with Medicine Hat, my former home town for 20 years is preparing for the worst. I just hope the Old Man River doesn’t imitate the anger of its sister to the north, the Bow River, and spare the wonderful people I left behind 20 years or so ago from the same agony as the Calgarians.

      What should awaken our people way back in the native land, particularly the politicians and the squatters, from their complacency and indifference, is that if a city with efficient and strictly enforced urban planning in a country with perhaps second to none environmental concern could be overtaken fast by mother nature’s fury, what more of a city like Manila where emergency response to calamities is not a priority of the local government not to mention its teeming squatters whose safety is taken for granted? Merci!

      • Eustaquio Joven

        Not to worry. Alam ni Mang Teban ang kiliti ng Diyos. Hindi niya tayo pababayaan. Let’s just listen to him, and follow his instructions. His God won’t forsake him.

      • cogito728sum

        Acknowledged! Merci!

  • Marcos5

    Signs are everywhere deluge of flood from Europe (Germany, Italy, France etc,North America to India). Drought will be next earthquakes and pestilence.

  • Descarte5E

    If you read the news, magazines, internet articles, everybody, industry to industry, country to country, all is busy and everybody is reporting progress in abating carbon emission, awards are handed out, but lo and behold, latest actual measurements in Hawaii indicated an increased in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

  • Mang Teban

    Just one natural calamity does not become a global disaster.
    What we should really be concerned about is human indiscretion.

    How can we turn back the time so that the wrong decisions by governments all over the world can be corrected? No way.
    Al Gore may have demonstrated his prophetic view of the future a few years back and, yet, he was still off-track. He would have guessed right if he had centered on the countless warning signals triggered by greed and insensitivity of those who have relentlessly manipulated the environment for their own selfish motives.

    What we are experiencing right now in many places of the world is an offshoot of man’s reckless stewardship of the planet’s natural resources.
    However, unpopular as it may seem, none of us, human beings, can really predict the succession of frightful occurrences never seen before in our lifetimes.

    There is still time though for us to temper the consequences of disasters.
    We need to seek the mercy of the Divine One.
    Aside from human efforts to rehabilitate the environment as what has been destroyed by mankind, we also need God to defer the dreadful happenings in Nature.
    Prayer remains the most potent weapon to prevent the destruction from the “act of God” to restore order and harmony in this world after it has been wrecked by us, as small as irresponsible waste disposal to monstrous emissions from huge industries and poor urban planning.

    • brunogiordano

      “Prayer remains the most potent weapon to prevent the destruction from the “act of God” ”

      Pag pinagunahan ito ng mga pari at obispong mga DAMASO ksama ang mga alipin nilang mga maka-DAMASO siguradong hindi ito pakikinggan tulad ng marami nilang ginawang misa, prayer rallies at sangkatutak na dasal.

      Siguro ang dapat na matutunan natin gayon ay ang MINDFUL MEDITATION.

      • Mang Teban

        Mindless remark.
        Damasing-sing, Damasito, Damasito….hanggan ba naman ngayon wala kang bukang-bibig kungdi “Damaso”?
        Nadulas minsan si Santanas at sumigaw “Oh, my God!”..totoo nga na di lahat nang tumatawag sa Diyos ay tagasunod ng Panginoon.

    • cogito728sum

      Aha, my friend! Haven’t I remarked not that many days ago how unjust man is by passing the blame of his destructive folly to “God?” Could “God’s” response to man on his plea for help for his self-inflicted destruction, not only on mother nature but on himself, for which he attributes as “act of God”, sound like this:
      “Did I not give you the mental faculties you needed to make the choice beneficial to you? You’re destroying what I have provided you to call your home, with all the things you need, ‘tapos ako ang sisisihn mo. Ngayon saakin ka rin hihingi ng salvation. Ano to lokuhan?”

      Besides my friend, think about this, in the immensity of this universe, who are we to merit the undivided attention of “God” after slowly but surely destroying this planet with our greed? Merci!

      • brunogiordano

        Ang problema ng god gumawa siya ng taong FLAWED at ng gumawa ng flawed na bagay ang nilikha niya tao pinaparusahan niya.

        Makatwiran ba iyon???

        Tila TAMA na tao lang talaga ang lumikha sa mga gods.

      • Mang Teban

        Just because nahihirapan ka ipaliwanag ang ironies of life and the seemingly impossibility of fair play with God, you are giving up?
        We are all created with inherent goodness and equipped with a soul and a heart. The soul to receive the graces of God and the heart to ask for the graces from God.
        Kung hirap ka pa rin dito, luwagan mo kaya ang pagmamatigas ng ulo at puso mo.

      • cogito728sum

        I definitely agree to the last sentence my friend. Merci!

      • Mang Teban

        This is why I promised not to indulge you in religious issues as you requested, didn’t you?
        But, since you seem ready for a religious reply, here goes –
        God loves each one of us, including you, like you are the only creature existing in this world. God is God who can listen to each one of us, Seven Billion people in this world and growing, when each one of us calls Him.
        If you find God to ignore you, it is most probable you are doubting His immense power to give an ear for you.
        Moreover, God moves us all but no one, even the legions of Satan, can move God. If you can believe that, there is nothing impossible for the Good Lord to do which you find so immeasurably impossible.
        Even the illiterate and the atheist is listened to by God. For how can a person unlearned who cannot read the scriptures know God? What about the deaf and blind and those deprived by the Word of God? Are they hopelessly doomed to abyss of nothingness?
        Trust that God has a purpose for each question you can imagine and which can be answered only by faith.

      • cogito728sum

        Aha again my friend. But didn’t I say “on second thought” that we could, sans those odious adjectives, for which your only reply was, shall I say, a tickled “he, he” which I construed as a tacit acceptance of the challenge? Now having said thus and since we are already engaged in what hopefully would be a dialogue confined within the bounds of civility and reason, my first rejoinder would be: “if what is meant by that lavish love is that I’m considered the only creature on this planet deserving that love to the exclusion of lesser beings such as the other primates, then I decline that love. Such discriminatory love is not fair to even the most destructive and ingrate being as I.”

      • mad_as_Hamlet

        * * * * * * * *
        LOL! The good Bishop of the COTRAFI better keep this up, or I shall shout “Blasphemy!” LOL again!

      • Mang Teban

        Maldita as Hamletita has spoken.
        He..he..Sounds devious, isn’t it?

      • cogito728sum

        Howdy mi amici! I’m still an insignificant pawn but with my latest rejoinder to our common friend, partly inspired by your reply, I feel like getting close to a bishop now. But could a non-believer be charged of blasphemy? Anyway, how the heck in the “Gates of Hell” are you doing? Oops, still “Blasphemy.” Take good care of your health, mi amici, the most precious treasure, belatedly I’ve found, we have. Merci!

      • mad_as_Hamlet

        * * * * * *

        Alas, I fear there will never be enough time to edify the Reverend that blasphemy is indeed a victimless crime.

        Thanks a lot! And best regards! I’m fine, but a bit wearied to the bones. A usual thing when classes open.
        – – -

      • cogito728sum

        Please mi amici, hang in there. For without dedicated educators like you, the more the Filipino will be lost. For, with due respect to our mutual friend, Mr. Tebs, it is not in religion but in reason, obtained through education, that the advancement of a people depend. If Karl was right that religion is the opiate, then education, that developer of reason, is the antidote. If religion shrouds the mind in darkness, then education is the lamp that provides the light. You very well know as well as our mutual friend knows that the “acquisition of knowledge has always been the most permanently satisfying pleasure of man.” Of course not the knowledge from religion that darkens but the real knowledge from secular education that illumines the mind. Merci!

      • Mang Teban

        You certainly have a way to get out of a dead-end.

        If you keep on arguing on the basis of human standards, you will never get anywhere close to what really is the love of God.
        That is basically the problem with those who refuse to see beyond their human comprehension.
        Is it not that you experience the joy of seeing the wonders of God’s creations such as the cool breeze of the wind, the magnificence of mountains, the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon and, for some romantics, the perigee just two days ago?
        Those that put you in awe change. They come and go. But the Creator of those things do not change. Thus, His love cannot be conditional and varying in degrees. If you still doubt that, you are at the apogee, a distant location but still within God’s reach for He has no realm.

      • cogito728sum

        Aha again my friend! This time for the “romantics” that embraced my morning rise and enhanced the flavour of my cheap “Made in China” brew. A brew that I intend to take, when I finally come home, to that mountain top (where moon does his worship every time he disappears from this board) to contemplate personally with my mad, mad, and hopefully ever mad mi amici, Edgar Lores-if his legs are still able to descend the steep cliff of his Uluru- this mystery of man. Of course you’re most welcome to join us providing you take with you the fiery intensity of your conviction because we’ll gang up on you. And we will no, not bully you, but in the words of Nikita “bury” you in the depths of our mountainous arguments.

        It is precisely the “magnificence of the mountains” that I’m going to rebut you this time.

        When you go to Banff, from west to east, the magnificence of the Canadian Rockies will just overwhelm and spellbound you that you feel like discontinuing your journey and just watch, as if in hypnotic spell, the grandeur of nature’s creation. While in such trance-like condition, yet you cannot ignore this feeling of insignificance amidst this wonders of nature. And this natural beauty extends to a serene small communities called Crowsnest Pass.

        However, and this is the core of this rejoinder, its there also where a horrendous tragedy–the Frank slide– occurred early in the 20th century when a whole hamlet-no, not my mi amici’s-was buried under tons and tons of solid rocks while the inhabitants therein were asleep. Now if this was not a part of natural processes but the work of your God who did not even have the mercy of waking up the inhabitants asleep in their homes before exploding his wrath, then again, I say I refuse that kind of love.


      • Eustaquio Joven

        If you find God to ignore you, it is most probable you are doubting His immense power to give an ear for you.
        Are you saying that all that we need is the right word and the right attitude for God to grant our wishes? Ikaw ang boss ko. Ang kailangan lang ay ayusin mo pagbigay ng utos. Is this what God says? Is this what He wants?

  • Fulpol

    the dinosaurs got extinct.. who’s to blame??

    man experiencing massive destructive natural disasters nowadays. who’s to blame?

    should you let your specie go to extinction like the helpless dinosaurs? or will you adapt?

    the survival and the upholding the vanities of men really made things more complicated..

    will you let go?? or not? will you change to help mitigate the climate change?? or not??

    not just about politics and nature .. more of a human behavior: selfishness and greed.. difficult to overcome..

  • Fulpol

    “We are on the verge of a global transformation,” billionaire David Rockefeller said. “All we need is the right major crisis.” Is this it?


    in my opinion, Rockefeller was not talking about natural disasters.. but crisis made by well planned policies created by no other than an influential group..

  • Descarte5E

    Human should know that when everything ended up in disorder and human is obliterated in the face of the earth due to all of the catastrophic events, nature and the whole planet will recover by itself when no one is consuming it’s resources at the current rate humans are abusing her. Trees and all the other greens will resurface again and in the process consume all the CO2 they need enough to go back to normalcy.

    But would it be more beautiful to see it unfold right before our very eyes, the recovery of mother nature. All mother nature is asking for from human is to slow down in their activities. Slow down in consuming resources at a rate that will allow mother nature to recover and continuously provide humans what they need to exist. Maybe if only human, all of them, will go back to the habit of sleeping at least 8 hours a day, it will be enough to create a bit of miracle.

  • josh_alexei

    Maybe Prayers will help, but LOT OF DOING WILL SURELY HELP…now just to remind, that this City I am residing for more than 40 years of my life was also devastated by Tragic flash Flooding in l954 which drowned 81 residents, 30 in one street alone and that put the Biggest Flood Control program in Motion, a Lot of Doings..But First it took about Three Years of careful study on what to do and how it should be done as the project will be short term and very, very Long Term and that Include a Creation of Separate Body as an Institution mandated to continually implement the Program. To protect the Wetland and Forest. Acquisition of Areas for Recreation and Parks and protection of communities and off limits to development and housing. Construction of Dams and Reservoirs to hold the rain water during the flood and release them gradually after the flooding. Restricting development in the Flood Plains to allow unobstructed flow of Rivers and streams to their Tributaries naturally. And widening and deepening of Storm sewer and upgrading as the roadways are Reconstructed. and Planting more and more Trees to Absorb the runoff during heavy Downpour…and perhaps keep praying that the snow don’t melt all of the sudden…

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