Can anything be done?
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
A report by the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security and the German Alliance Development Works said that the Philippines ranks third in the list of countries most vulnerable to climate change. The risk index used in the report analyzed each country’s exposure to natural disasters like storms, floods, earthquakes, droughts and sea level rise.
It also estimated their susceptibility to damage based on the state of their economy and infrastructure, and the countries’ ability to respond to these disasters through preparedness measures and early warning systems. It also studied their ability to adapt to future disasters due to climate change.
The top 10 countries facing the highest risk are the following: Vanatu, Tonga, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Costa Rica, Cambodia and El Salvador.
This newest report simply confirms what we have known for decades: that our country has firmly established itself as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to natural disasters. The sad part is that, even with this knowledge, the government has not done much to mitigate the effects of the natural disasters that regularly visit the Philippines. It does not matter if climate change is man-made or naturally occurring, what matters is that recent experience has shown that it is definitely upon us, and unless we radically change the way we deal with disasters, the destruction to life and property will continue to worsen just as the damage that was wrought by Ondoy, which was supposed to be unprecedented, has already been surpassed by Pedring within a short span of two years.
While the Philippines is located in a part of the world that is naturally prone to disasters, there should be no excuse for our government to allow it to stay on top of that list because there are many ways that the risk stemming from our unfortunate location can be mitigated or reduced, if our government is determined to make this country a safer place for its people and its people cooperate fully in return. Why obvious solutions like proper urban planning, a firm resolve to restore the forests, regulating mining and quarrying activities in order ensure minimal impact on the increasingly fragile environment, and being unflinching when relocating communities that are identified to be in high-risk areas, that should have been applied when the warning bells were initially sounded many years ago, remain suggestions that are stuck in the drawing boards of urban planners and local governments, we will never know.
But, after we have seen firsthand just how extreme and unpredictable nature has become, the people in charge should not waste any more time doing what must be done, unless they want to repeat the experience all over again soon.*