HOW ARE WE adapting to a world radically buffeted by climate change?
Last week, an earthquake of 6.5 magnitude struck Leyte, plunging that part of the country on the throes of another natural disaster just a few years after Yolanda. Even as the government continues to grapple with Marawi’s harrowing war, it now has to contend with post-event relief and rehabilitation efforts, further adding strain to an already wearied government action.
For us in Baguio, the 1990 killer quake serves as a grim reminder of lessons learned and forgotten. Casualties by the thousands were record-high simply because buildings of recent vintage sat on vulnerable mountain slopes and awakened fault-lines, but more importantly, construction works went on frenziedly through the years characterized by the traditional shortcuts and without regard to geohazard risks. We learned that much in post-event analysis. We forgot all about that in the years to come, because business as usual was good for business.
On July 16, we mark yet another anniversary of that tragedy, remembering loved ones we have lost, recalling how much agony we went through after the earth let loose 26 seconds of pent-up energy. For those of us who lived through that cataclysmic event, rising up on our feet after every fall, we need to remember again and again that man’s folly will always make Mother Nature fight back in greater ferocity.
Clearly, life in this beloved plant can never be the same again, with climate change continuously hovering over our day-to-day activities. Natural disasters will always take place, intensifying each time they strike. Earthquakes have been occurring more frequently without warning and more ferociously. Typhoons are getting stronger, lashing at wider areas than before. When it’s hot, it’s very hot and deadly; when the rains come, they whiplash with howling winds and torrential water, inundating everything on its lethal path. Extreme weather events connected to climate change have become the new normal, auguring devastation across the globe.
Archipelagic our country is, we can’t just let nature take its course and allow inaction to breed from our own indifference. Leaders may come and go, but people is constant. There will always be victims among us. But we can opt not to be willing victims when natural disaster inflicts its deadly force on vulnerable communities.
We can lend a voice to the global cry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that have caused, for centuries now, much of the global warming that our planet has absorbed from our own economic activities that have wreaked havoc on our fragile environment. We can by ourselves reduce our contributed carbon footprint through self-chosen activities that disengage us from our motor vehicles, a bit of a time each time. We can pressure our own leaders to be more serious in alternative energy use and set iron-clad policies that veer away from coal-powered energy.
In an environment severely affected by climate change, this is not just a matter of personal and collective choice. It’s a matter of survival — averting mankind’s certain annihilation — that we must accept so we can bequeath a worthy world for the next generation of leaders and people. It is not only the right thing to do, but the only thing that can be done, singly and collectively, as one universal voice crying out loud for salvation.