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The continuing threat of climate change

Once again, Metro Manila and some other parts of Luzon experienced last week the onslaught of Mother Nature due to tropical storm Mario.

Heavy rain, that lasted several hours, inundated a large part of Metro Manila on Friday. Torrential monsoon rains aggravated the situation, causing the evacuation of thousands of residents from low-lying areas and along waterways in the metropolis. Several houses, streets and other public places, and commercial establishments in various parts of Metro Manila were submerged and have been cut off with electricity and water supplies.

In its 6 a.m. weather bulletin on September 19, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, or PAGASA, issued red alert (severe flooding) rainfall warning for Rizal and Bulacan provinces and Metro Manila, orange warning (flooding is threatening) for Laguna province and yellow warning (flooding may prevail in low-lying areas) for Cavite, Batangas and Quezon provinces. Authorities claimed that in Metro Manila alone, more than half a million residents were affected with severe flooding.

It is quite unfortunate that we are now living dangerously in the Philippines, because we are currently tracing for deadly storm weather with higher intensity. Typhoons are visiting us one after the other and most of the places in the country are vulnerable to extreme flooding not only because of the heavy rain, but also largely due to the alteration of our natural ecosystems and processes. A large part of our forests that may serve as barriers in flooding and landslide is already deforested and have been converted into other purposes, like agriculture and industrial development.

It has been said that extreme weather conditions are the new normal of our times. Natural hazards, like typhoons, tsunamis and storm surges, are getting stronger, due to the deteriorating capacity of our natural ecosystems to withstand the changes occurring in our environment.

Some damages we inflicted on Earth are already irreversible and beyond repair, such as the destruction of the ozone layer. Our ecosystems, like the forest, mangroves, sea grasses, and coral reefs, among others, are already in bad state, such that their ability to assist in mitigating the impacts of natural hazards and risks had similarly deteriorated.

The present scenario is very disadvantages to the Philippines due to our geographic location. The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters has consistently ranked the Philippines in the top five most disaster-hit countries of the world. Our country lies in one of the most hazardous portions of the Earth. It is situated in an area where tropical cyclones are most active, and this is in the western rim of the Pacific Ocean.

The changing climatic pattern of the world, popularly known as climate change, is bringing all these extreme weather scenarios we are facing today, according to weather experts. It is therefore very important that adaptation and mitigation measures shall be applied, in as much that we don’t have much options to prevent the occurrence of these natural hazards.*

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