By Herminia S. Jacinto
I MUST have written about climate change in previous columns, so why am I writing about it again? Recent events have made it a current topic and perhaps it will never be outdated since climate change is a perennial problem. Typhoon "Karding" had just passed our country and resulted in so much damage to property and lives. My heart goes out to the rescuers who died while trying to perform their tasks. The efforts exerted by both public and private sectors during the typhoon and the floods deserve a lot of commendation. We saw how government organizations, especially the local government units (LGUs), immediately came to the rescue of the affected residents and their properties. Evacuation was orderly even if we had the usual resistance from people who would not leave their homes. Television and radio stations were announcing the developments as they occurred and immediately sent relief goods to the evacuation centers. Large malls like the SM Malls offered to shelter people at the height of the floods. Their parking areas were opened to the stranded vehicles in flood-prone areas.
How admirable! It looks like we have learned a lot about coping with such events considering that the Philippines is visited by about 20 typhoons a year. Not to mention the flooding and the storm surges that accompany such typhoons. But we are not always successful. Inevitably, there is the resulting damage to crops, property and even lives which take a long time for us to recover. Yes, there are mechanisms and opportunities to recover through insurance and other solutions which are now available in the market. But how does one recover from the loss of a loved one and the destruction of livelihood? Maybe never.
From my perspective as an insurance practitioner, I am appalled at the lack of attention and concern about climate change, an issue which is now the subject of discussions in global conferences. Since typhoons and floods occur frequently in our country, we may just accept it as something that will come anyway, so let it come! It is our business in insurance to provide solutions and products that will restore property after the event and we make money doing this. But it is also our business that we help our clients cope with these events with less cost and heartaches!
The key is prevention. We should harness all available solutions to help us mitigate the impact of these events. Recent posts in Facebook make fun of the "builder or creator" of the Sierra Madre mountains, which were reactions to articles about the role the mountain range played in preventing Karding from doing more damage to the places traversed by the typhoon. Setting aside the memes, there is a lot to be grateful for that we have these God-given natural resources to protect us from strong winds. Inquirer.Net correctly says "Sierra Madre stands up to Karding, but needs protection vs the human it serves." What comes to mind is the mining of dolomite from a mountain in Cebu to create a Boracay type beach in Manila Bay. The so-called dolomite beach is now the receptacle of all the garbage brought by the flood from various places near Manila. It is providential that the new government has stopped the so-called rehabilitation of the Manila Bay and save the mountains from being denuded. Another natural resource that the Philippines is gifted with is the abundance of mangroves in the countryside. Experts on natural disasters say that mangroves are many times more cost-effective than building a concrete sea wall over a 15-year investment. I hope our own weather experts will develop our own natural resources to prevent or reduce flooding.
Until recently, not many knew that there was a Climate Change Commission which was created in 2011. Among its several purposes is for a successful transition toward climate-smart development. The chairman of this commission is no less than the President of the Philippines with three commissioner-members and has been provided with an ample budget to do its job. I just hope that the president will give it the time and attention it needs. Now is the time for them to implement what they have learned from the various conferences they have attended and the inputs from the National Panel of Technical Experts. The LGUs are waiting for you!
A man checks his house that was totally destroyed by Typhoon ‘Karding’ in San Miguel, Bulacan, on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN