Sanchez: In the circle

WE ARE not in the winning circle. But the country is inside the circle... with the highest risk of experiencing multiple climate hazards out of anywhere in the world, followed by Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and China. Around and around, in worsening spiral, we experience rising sea level, increasing frequency of extreme weather events of the Yolanda type, tsunamis and storm surges, rising temperatures and extreme rainfall. This is due to its high exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, landslides, floods, droughts), dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources and vast coastlines where all major cities and the majority of the population reside.

I am getting tired of reading on climate change and Greta Thunberg. But the more I read, the more I'm getting alarmed. The more I know, the more I'm getting panicky. I cannot run nor hide.

The Institute for Economics and Peace's (IEP) annual Global Peace Index estimated that 971 million people globally live in areas with high or very high exposure to hazards such as cyclones, floods, bushfires, and rising sea levels. So it's not just the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan. Tenth place was a five-way tie between Iran, Somalia, Peru, Mexico, and the United States of America.

Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and China also ranked within the ten countries most at risk of experiencing a single climate hazard inside the circle of natural disasters.

Despite climate change denier Donald Trump, the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) listed the Philippines as highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change caused by a rich yet increasingly depleted natural and marine resources base that supports livelihoods through fisheries, agriculture, forestry, energy, mining and tourism and provides critical ecosystem services such as shoreline protection, flood control, soil stability and habitats for biodiversity.

Let us pray what I learned from Oringao farmers who were victims of massive rat infestation. That was a time when a few people in the early 1990s have heard of climate change. The province suffered a prolonged El Niño, when only God fixed the mess that humankind inflicted on the environment through deforestation and monocultures.

The same when Yolanda wreaked havoc on our coastal communities, we have to bend our knees in surrender to God our creator and beat our chests and say:

God of the heavens, the nature and all that You have created are truly awesome. Often, we take these wonders for granted. Teach us to cherish all of your gifts.

Try as we might, we know that we cannot control the oceans, the mountains, the weather. We also firmly believe that ever since the time of Noah, You do not send floods, make the earth shake, or dispatch weather formations, such as hurricanes, as warnings or punishments.

So we ask, as this hurricane approaches land and approaching our brothers and sisters, that You shelter all who will be in its path.

Watch over everyone, their loved ones, friends, and fellow people, many of whom are preparing to evacuate. Guard them as they prepare, perhaps to leave their homes again.

Give them strength, courage, and resolve to ride out this storm; answer their prayers and ours that they be blessed with goodness and be spared from harm. Amen.


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