Inevitable tragedy?

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Saturday, January 12, 2013


ONCE burned, twice shy,” the old saw goes. Still reeling from killer typhoons Pablo and Sendong, people got jittery when weather bureau Pagasa reported a low pressure area, which swirled east of Mindanao, then morphed into a tropical depression this weekend. "Bising" is the second storm to barge the country early this year--a typhoon-free time in the past.

Signal number 1 was hoisted for all of Bicol and Samar. Bising will slam into the northeast monsoon or amihan. Cebuanos may have to unfurl umbrellas. Rain will slosh over parts of Mindanao, including Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental where storm Pablo left 1,901 dead or missing. It will take P5 billion--and time-–to rehabilitate farms.

The casualty toll for Typhoon Sendong, which hit Dec. 17, 2011, exceeded 1,453. Some will never be accounted for. It wiped out an entire community, perched on “Isla de Oro” sandbar. Cagayan de Oro Mayor Vicente Emano was shooting craps when Pagasa repeatedly warned Sendong swerved from Cebu to Cagayan/ Iligan.

Typhoon Pablo, which roared in Dec. 4, 2012, was the “world’s deadliest” that year, says Global Castastrophe Recap. "More than 216,817 homes were damaged in 318 towns."

Tropical cyclones swirl into being 5 or 8 degrees of latitude away from the equator. Pablo shattered this yardstick, US National Aeronautics and Space Administration reports.

“Pablo”corkscrewed past Cebu City, plus the province’s north, with only 150 kilometers to spare. It wrecked Cebu’s southern towns: Boljoon, Oslob, Santander.

“The angel of death has many eyes.” Cebuanos looked into those eyes in Pablo. But the storm spun away. What if it did not?

“How do we explain the decreasing number of years in occurrence of destructive typhoons affecting southern Philippines?” asked marine scientist and Magsaysay Awardee Angel Alcala. Pablo followed Sendong after less than one year!.” Before that, typhoon Ruping occurred seven years after storm Nitang. And “Frank occurred 17 years after Ruping”

“Both typhoons decimated hard corals of Apo Marine Reserve and other southeastern Negros reefs,” he told Metro Post. “These reserves had hardly begun to recover from Sendong’s devastation when hit again by Pablo.

It is uncertain whether the Apo and Dauin (Negros Oriental) reefs will ever recover to its previous state before 2011, should these weather trends continue in the future.

Those trends will persist, says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. The question about climate change no longer is whether it’s real.

I have a three-year-old son, and when he is my age, he could be living in a world that is completely different from ours largely because of climate change.

The Bank’s report, “Turn Down The Heat,” says current efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, increase are faltering. Our grandchildren will inherit a 4 degree hotter world at the end of this century.”

“A degree is like breaking the world record for the long jump not by an inch or two, but by nearly two feet, as Bob Beamon did at the 1968 Olympics.” writes Washington Post.

What are Cebu officials doing?

Rep. Tomas Osmeña boasts, “I am a butangero. This self portrait of a hired mugger explains a legislative record that consists of an unpassed bill to extend Christmas holidays. He never crafted a Cebu disaster readiness program as mayor. That gap hasn’t be filled by Mayor Mike Rama.

Cebu is a tragedy waiting to happen. And some will die.

(Email: juan_mercado77@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 13, 2013.

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