Climate reality, crisis yet to be addressed-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
METRO Manila and many surrounding provinces have been experiencing heavier and longer precipitation for almost a week now. Storm surges have gone beyond the usual areas and communities that never experienced flooding are facing a new challenge alien to them.
"This is the 'new normal.' We are facing a phenomenon we never experienced before and this is happening very rapidly," said Rodne Galicha, Philippine district manager of The Climate Reality Project (TCRP), founded and chaired by Al Gore, Nobel Laureate and former vice president of the United States, and has more than five million members and supporters worldwide, guided by one simple truth: “The climate crisis is real and we know how to solve it.”
"Awkward as it may, extreme drought and high temperatures are felt in the other side of the world such as the United States - and here in our country, prolonged rain which results to extreme flooding," Galicha said.
Extreme weather conditions are becoming more evident as more heat is trapped by the thickening of the atmosphere due to high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. As temperatures increase, more water is evaporated from the oceans into the sky.
"This is a wake-up call to all of us - climate change mitigation is indeed a must. In our own little ways, we can still make a change: proper garbage disposal, use recyclable bags in supermarkets, proper drainage system, among others, to avoid mass disasters due to floods," said TCRP member and Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta.
Tons of non-biodegradable garbage were washed ashore by big waves and storm surges in Manila Bay and in neighboring coastal areas. Clogged canals and sewage systems due to plastic and solid wastes intensified Metro Manila's flooding, as well.
"But the issue now goes beyond garbage, we should look at our mountains and forests especially Sierra Madre, are there enough trees for our watershed? Or do we still wait for another Ondoy to awaken our sleeping consciousness?" Rueda-Acosta said.
TCRP member and Mariduque Council for Environmental Concerns (Macec) Executive Director Miguel Magalang said that while mitigating measures are to be implemented, adaptation strategies must be localized and done comprehensively with assured capacity building and financing.
Magalang said disasters serve as also a wake-up call for all sectors of society to actively involve in disaster risk reduction planning and budgeting processes so that details of hazards and risks and scrutinized and matched with appropriate strategies that will be mainstreamed in local programs, projects and activities of the local governments with corresponding budgets from the local community development funds and the disaster risk reduction and management funds.
"We therefore, urge President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to immediately sign the People's Survival Fund Bill into law which has been approved by the House of Representatives and Senate before it's too late," said Magalang.
The People's Survival Fund (PSF) aims to finance adaptation programs and projects that are directly supportive of the objectives enumerated in the Climate Change Action Plans of local government units and communities. Hence, strengthening the Climate Change Act of 2009 by providing predictable, adequate, continuous and untied financing for local climate adaptation.
The current situation also challenges the House of Representatives to reconsider its move to repeal Section 21 of RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law of 2010. That provision of the law ensures enough funding for pre-disaster and post-disaster events, risk reduction and quick response activities.
"Saving lives, livelihoods and infrastructure is the essence of Section 21. Politics should not deny safety and security of the poor and vulnerable," Magalang added.
"However, while we mitigate and adapt, we are deeply concerned with the continuous exploitation of our natural resources and unabated carbon emissions of developed countries - the solution to the climate crisis does not lie only on us but to the genuine commitment of the global community especially of the Annex 1 countries," Galicha said.
"Ultimately, the solution to this crisis is climate justice - going beyond monetizing Mother Earth - giving back what is due to nature," concluded Galicha.
TCRP said the current flooding in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces is only a prelude to more complex hazards and disaster that may happen in various parts of the country. This is a real challenge for all local government units to prioritize serious and long-term solutions to reduce the vulnerabilities of communities. (PR)