Climate change gone awry
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

We breathe a collective sigh of relief as the country this week can officially say that Typhoon Tisoy has come and gone. And while the massive storm did leave a wide and deadly swath of destruction in Luzon, it could have been so much worse. The typhoon was being touted the next super storm similar to the likes of Ondoy or Yolanda.

And while we can’t be blinded to the fact that many of our countrymen were indeed horribly affected by Tisoy, we still can feel relief that it wasn’t another Yolanda which devastated the Philippines like no typhoon before it. To date, Yolanda remains the strongest storm ever recorded and we must pray that it stays that way.

Over the course of last week, I believe that our country did a much better job being prepared for the storm. In the interest of safety, prudence and caution were exercised and school was suspended and flights cancelled at what was expected to be the height of the storm. And rightfully so – it was registering at super storm levels by weather bureaus around the world so extra caution was not just important, it was necessary.

After Tuesday passed, I heard many people talking about how the storm wasn’t as bad as the news was saying, that we had over-anticipated and took too many preventive measures leading to loss of work, school, and the like. Flyers who were coming to the airport on Tuesday from 11 am-11 pm were particularly vexed because they had to find alternative flights.

Personally, I think we shouldn’t be upset about being too careful. If anything, this should be the norm. We’ve all seen how unprepared we were in the past and that has cost us thousands of lives and billions of pesos in damage. This is not something that should happen again. If anything, we should always err on the side of caution because a day or two of work being suspended or classes being halted is nothing when held up against the potential danger a super typhoon would bring.

What I mean to say is that we should feel grateful and blessed that the typhoon wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be instead of irritated that we had to disrupt our daily schedules for a few days. I personally applaud our weather bureau and disaster preparedness committees for being on the ball and providing up-to-the-minute updates on the storm so that everyone would be prepared. For one brief shining moment, it seemed that everyone was on the same page – and that page was to keep everyone as safe as possible. It’s amazing what we can achieve when our government agencies all work together.

The same can be said for what happened with the SEA Games. We faced several hiccups in the beginning, but when everyone finally came together and worked with one another, things were addressed and fixed one by one. And now, we are raking in the gold medals.  I am so proud of what our athletes have been able to achieve. May this inspire our government even more to provide support and financial aid to our rising athletic stars – and in more fields than just basketball, boxing, and billiards. I think with this showing we are proving that there is so much more Filipinos can do.

Indeed, it has been a very emotional up and down these past couple of weeks and everyone is handling all of that on top of the holiday hustle the stress of impending Christmas – which for adults means added expenses, crazy traffic, and the late onset pile up of work on top of all the merriment. I think we all deserve a little pat on the back for making it here.

And now that we have, we need to put our focus on things that really matter. This storm is yet another example of crazy weather phenomena we have been experiencing these past several years. The super storm was barely a concern a decade ago and now these are happening more and more often. We have to recognize the effects that climate change is having on the environment and on all of us.

As we move into 2020 we need to put more efforts into battling climate change or we are going to find ourselves facing more super storms and more with a lot less resources. And the clock is ticking. We no longer have the luxury of time. If we don’t start making changes and soon, the planet is going to start fighting back.

We saw a short documentary called 5 Degrees Warmer showing the effect that a 5-degree raise in temperature would have on the world and it was truly eye opening. In so many ways, it seemed like a horror film, with the worst part being that it was true and happening in the world today. So many parts of the globe would become uninhabitable, water would become scarce, and eventually people would be left to fight tooth and nail for whatever resources remained. And that’s just 5 degrees.

But the documentary did end on a hopeful note – we still have time, a teeny tiny window to turn things around. But we have to act soon. If everyone just did a little to lessen their eco footprint we might be able to make a difference. We have to do it now or there won’t be a world left to leave to our children.

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