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» » » » » » » » » Lessons from the "Philippine" Typhoons Hagupit and Haiyan

JR Lopez Gonzales 3:46 PM 0

Author's Note:
This article is a repost of what I have posted on CNN iReport regarding severe weather. You may view the original article, here.

One of the world’s largest and strongest typhoons ever recorded hit the Philippines last year. With the width of about 500 miles, bigger than Hurricane Katrina, Typhoon Haiyan (local name:Yolanda) was without a doubt, the strongest typhoon this country ever faced. And now the Philippines once again braced for Typhoon Hagupit (local name: Ruby), unnaturally our fourth super typhoon for this year.

This typhoon which started out as a Category 5 typhoon, luckily, weakened as it inched toward its first landfall in Samar province three days ago. Filipinos’ incessant prayers might have worked because this typhoon failed to intensify and is now moving away from the population center of Manila. The hundreds of thousands of evacuees could now return to their houses now that Ruby had passed.

While it has destroyed billions of pesos worth of property, there has been a significant drop in the number of casualties days after the typhoon’s first landfall. As of this writing, the deaths tallied by the Philippine National Red Cross do not reach 30. This is far from last year’s Yolanda death toll of more than six thousand.

Everybody at any level of government was commendably prepared of Ruby’s size and scope. At least for this storm, there had been a more organized governmental response to the thousands of victims – a thing that was inexistent last year, as correctly pointed out by Anderson Cooper. Tacloban City, the “ground zero” for super typhoon Yolanda, managed to record no casualties. Clearly, applying the learnings from last year’s horrible experience saved lives this time around.

But once again, the bigger, global issue on climate change crops up. While we may not directly attribute mega-typhoons to climate change, the signs are also obvious that climate change will mean more intense typhoons.
Studies say that deadly tropical storms are expected to get more intense and frequent as greenhouse gases continually warm the earth’s atmosphere. Temperatures soar because of the rising level of carbon emissions - and our tiny country contributes a speck compared to those emitted by those “more powerful” economies.

These weather disturbances are first felt here. Some parts of the Philippines which do not experience strong storms, experienced it for the first time in the recent years. I, in fact, survived the unforeseen Typhoon Washi which left more than a thousand people dead in the southern Philippines in 2011.
It is saddening to think that up to this point, our civilized nations failed to have a collective action to address this problem. For decades, no tangible pledges had been made for mobilization of resources for the international climate funds; there is still no clear stance for financing adaptation or mitigation practices against extreme weather variations. This is both an environmental and a geopolitical issue.

My developing country, the Philippines, was placed in the front row of Mother Nature’s lashings because of climate change. And we, as a people, refuse to accept the catastrophes as a normality of our everyday life.

Is the world still not learning from the “Philippine” typhoons? Are we still not learning from Mother Nature?

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