The imminent mystique of climate change

AS IT APPEARS - Lorenzo Paradiang Jr. -

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte called on the House solons to donate P20,0000 each for the calamity victims of Typhoon Sendong in Mindanao. With 285 solons including party-list congressmen, the donation totals P5.7 M. Such amount can partly alleviate the Sendong survivors, say, in purchasing the basic staples, or pieces of clothes, and the like.

But then, P20T from each congressman is a measly sum that the “honorables” of Congress share for such calamity. With each Congressman’s more than P70 M PDAF, say, P1M per solon probably suffices to help prevent future ravages of the Cagayan de Oro and the Iligan rivers by means of strong concrete levees along both banks and their deltas.

The “Priority Development Assistance Fund” for senators and congressmen can be spent for risk reduction projects for both rivers, and development of the two cities.

It’s just fortunate that the sudden heavy downpour of Sendong did not ravage the mid-portion and southern end of Mindanao, which were spared from Sendong’s landfall. And so, the very long and wide Agusan River that traverses the mountain fastness of Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte ending at the wide plains of Butuan City, didn’t generate swelling floods like those of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Rivers. Had Agusan River at Butuan City’s end become so swollen in flash floods, destruction of the protective levees along its banks would have made Butuan City a large lagoon, and devastated the buildings, and houses, and all establishments, and the people.

 Other large rivers in Mindanao are the Rio Grande de Mindanao or the Mindanao River which is the second largest next to Cagayan River in Luzon, and the Pulangi River joining the Kabacan River and several big tributaries, that would have over-flowed along their routes to inflict havoc to the inhabitants and carried their houses, crops, and infrastructures. The Mindanao River alone covers a drainage area of 23,169 square kilometers, and a length of 373 kilometers. Pulangi River alone includes population centers, like, Cotabato City, Datu Piang, and Midsayap.

These facts stress that probably owing to the climate change, past typhoons bred in the Pacific Ocean that used to hit Eastern Visayas and Luzon for long, might have radically changed to landfall in Mindanao and the Visayas, as sampled by Sendong.

In short, Sendong serves a very grim warning for LGUs and people in their areas to be extra wary of the future risk coming from rivers and other waterways. While the swelling and spilling out of these waterways in case of heavy rains may have involved only houses and hovels, and properties, Nature with its climate change phenomenon is often unpredictable.

It behooves the national authorities, especially the DENR, and the LGUs to take heed, instead of dilly-dallying and just puttering about on palliative measures for risk reduction. Southern Cebu had just been fortunate that while Sendong brought damage to Dumaguete City and other Negros cities and towns, the typhoon skirted Southern Cebu.

As the year ends today, the coming New Year might bring about Nature’s inevitable changes. A small degree of either lateral variation in weather or geographical phenomena may spell a big difference as to which areas or regions might be devastated by the imminent climate change.

One can’t name, or count with the fingers, cities and towns in Cebu, or anywhere else, that is fully or partly prepared to withstand the wrath of Nature. The natural risks are fraught with unforeseen perils that are beyond human predictions, such that, even the lip service risk reduction measures could hardly alleviate, much less prevent. Humans are but puny creatures in the inexorable onslaught of the worsening global warming, which the Kyoto protocol nations have failed to solve, not even a dint, against carbon emissions.

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