"Poor countries suffer more."
It is only the 27th and there are already 14 reported firecracker victims. At this rate, firecracker casualties will increase compared to last year. People cannot seem to learn at all. It is time to ban the sale and manufacture of the dangerous types of firecrackers that could maim or kill. Losing fingers, a hand or getting killed is never the way to celebrate the coming of the New Year. Instead, we should simply try to celebrate with wholesome family activities instead of lighting firecrackers that could bring us harm.
The tsunami in Indonesia that killed several hundred people was triggered by the volcano Anak Krakatau when it erupted causing an underwater landslide that killed many unsuspecting people. This once again signals the importance of disaster preparedness.
Anak Krakatau is what remained of the gigantic Krakatau volcano that erupted in 1883 killing 36,417 people. This tsunami a few days ago came without any warning whatsoever and therefore caught the people totally by surprise. To top it all, the tsunami early warning devices have been out of service for the last six years and were never repaired. This disaster came just three months after another earthquake and tsunami that killed about 2,556 people when a volcano erupted in Palu, Central Sulawesi.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has now ordered the purchase of new tsunami warning devices and the repair of those unserviceable tsunami early warning devices. This action sort of remind us of the way we do things in this country. For countries located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, natural disasters is a real and present danger that could strike anytime without any warning. This is as good a time as any to ask our government what it is doing to mitigate the effects of natural disasters brought about by climate change.
The answer to this question is unfortunately hardly enough. A simple glance at the map will tell us that our country which is already one of the most natural disaster-prone countries in the world and has also been identified as one of many countries that will be affected most by climate change. Even in the best of times, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis often batter the nation causing so much misery. As we are now learning, it no longer matters where one lives. One can live by the sea or away from it and no one is spared the wrath of natural calamities. Although there are still people who deny that climate change is caused primarily by human activity, climate change as a result of global warming is very real.
We, Filipinos are experiencing this already. Typhoons are getting stronger and can come even when we least expect it. The strongest storm that ever hit land hit the country in 2013 under the international name of Haiyan. It had sustained winds of 315 kph and gusts of 380 kph. Never before in the history of our country did we experience such a typhoon. It killed more than 10,000 people, many of them were never found. The government stopped counting when the figure reach seven thousand plus because of the desire of the incompetent Aquino government to minimize the destruction.
The storm caused destruction never before experienced in this country that it is now the accepted yardstick on how the government prepares for disaster mitigation. People are now more conscious and willing to evacuate when required to do so. But unfortunately, there are still many people who do not seem to have learned any lessons or simply refuse to follow sensible government suggestions to vacate areas when strong typhoons that can cause landslides and flooding might hit the country. This is where the government must be firm and resolute.
The impact of global warming and climate change will only get worse if government fails to put in place sensible policies to strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change. We know that the government already has the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which is supposed to coordinate the government response to climate change. But nothing insignificant has come out of this body. Let me also quote a statement from NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, the principal planning official of the government. “The NEDA Climate Change Strategy is a four-part initiative that will be implemented from 2018 to 2021 to catalyze behavioral change among the NEDA employees. With this strategy, we aim to reduce the agency’s energy and water consumption and per capita greenhouse emissions while maximizing productivity of our agency.”
If this is the government strategy, then it is sadly lacking. The good secretary wants to start small and is hoping to influence all government offices to follow suit but what this country needs is a program that can be implemented all over the country like for instance stopping the building of coal-fired power plants which seem to be picking up instead of going down. The more sensible policy should be to concentrate on renewable energy. One absurd news item that I read is that the pork worth P8 billion intended for the Bicol region was, in fact, flood control measures to mitigate climate change. The thing about global warming and climate change is that no country will be left unaffected. If our government officials think that climate change is more the problem of the developed world and we do not have to do our share, they should think again. In fact, poorer countries will suffer more because these countries have less resources to spend to surmount the problem.
A Happy New Year to one and all.