The Philippines has just about had it with natural disasters. While some Filipinos are trying to get back on their feet after the devastating wrath of Typhoon Rolly (known around the world as Typhoon Goni) on November 1 that killed 26 people, here comes Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) sending almost the entire island of Luzon into an apocalypse, leaving more than one million people without electricity, forcing 400,000 to flee their homes and killing 67 people.
According to scientists, natural disasters like typhoons, wildfires and floods are intensifying as a consequence of climate change, making these events increasingly devastating. Philippines experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year due to its geographic location but due to climate change, these are expected to be stronger and more deadly. So how is the Philippines – an archipelago nation that is bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change – tackling this issue?
In the midst of a pandemic, representatives from local government units and Filipino citizens affected by the onslaught of a series of super typhoons (Typhoon Quinta on October 25, Typhoon Rolly on November 1, Typhoon Siony on November 7 and Typhoon Ulysses on November 11) scrambled together without masks on and were all crammed in evacuation sites for refuge. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes and their means of livelihood and while the country is reeling from back-to-back typhoons and some choose to glorify the resilience of the Filipinos, many are looking for concrete climate solutions and ways to mitigate the impacts.
Using science to drive decisions
Climate change is a scientific matter so it is important that we ensure people better understand what it is and the consequences of it. Educating students, residents and communities is key to raising awareness and will lead to ideas that could help tackle the issue and mitigate climate change impacts.
Changing the culture
Encouraging climate consciousness in decision-making so that individuals, households and businesses take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to changing the culture of fossil fuel consumption.
The Philippines is losing roughly 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year making flooding an inevitable reality in some parts of the country. In Rizal province, for example, illegal logging, land grabbing, charcoal making and quarrying is rampant along the mountain range of Sierra Madre; with deforestation increasing erosion and affecting the quantity and quality of stream flow, the forest watershed is unable to naturally regulate flood damages and runoff.
According to the team at Masungi Georeserve, a conservation area located in the Southern Sierra Mountain range in Baras, Rizal, the Upper Marikina Watershed is at stage four of ‘forest death’. This makes Marikina and nearby cities such as Pasig and Cainta vulnerable to flooding. During Typhoon Ondoy 11 years ago these cities were submerged in flood water and recently during Typhoon Ulysses, these cities suffered the same fate and relived the horror of Ondoy once more.
In 2013, the Philippines was hit by the one of the world’s strongest tropical cyclones in history, Typhoon Haiyan, which left over 7,000 people dead, 1.9 million homeless and six million displaced. This typhoon prompted the government to initiate capacity building projects to address climate change. The Duterte Administration implemented the Climate Change Adaptation program which focuses on the adaptive capacity of communities to build resilience of natural ecosystems and sustainability of the built environment to climate change.
While the country’s carbon emissions are miniscule compared to that of high emitting countries such as the United States and China, the devastating social and economic impacts of climate change have forced the Philippines to take action.
Want to offer support beyond just ‘thoughts and prayers’. Here are some organisations that you can donate to and support in their emergency relief efforts:
Non-profit organization GlobalGiving is running a donation drive for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter as well as recovery efforts. Donate here to help Philippine typhoon victims.
CARE Australia is a leading international aid organisation that is currently on the ground in the Philippines and working with local partners to ensure affected people are receiving support and aid including shelter kits, blankets, clothing, food, water, face masks and hand sanitiser to limit COVID-19 spread. Make a donation here.
Committed to eradicating global poverty, Oxfam‘s International Crisis Fund enables the organisation to supply aid such as life-saving food, clean water, shelter, hygiene kits, cash assistance and other essential items to those impacted by the typhoons. Donate here.
Project ARK (Act of Random Kindness) is a non-government organization initiated by Green Camp Philippines and SIF Care under the leadership of husband and wife team, Michael and Liz Resurreccion. This NGO coordinates donation drives amd eco-friendly outreach programs to provide aid for the victims of natural calamities.
WWF Philippines focuses on raising awareness of environmental issues in the country, crafting solutions to climate change, implementing sustainable livelihood programs, and conservation efforts.
Planet CORA is a non-profit organization dedicated to solving issues surrounding hunger, poverty and climate change. The NGO is currently raising funds to support the livelihood and rebuilding of fisherfolk families in Verde Island (Batangas) and farmers in San Fernando (Camarines Sur). Learn more here.
Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP), convened in 2019 and is an alliance of youth organizations, individuals, and student councils that advocate for immediate global climate action. This is the counterpart of Fridays for Future in the Philippines.
- Climate Change is Expected to Hit the World’s Poorest Nations Hard. Here’s What Three of Them Are Doing About It…
- Amazon Rainforest Fires: Why a ‘People-First’ Approach to Climate Action is Better Than Telling Folks to Go Vegan
- Voting Green: How to Encourage People to Vote for Politicians That Support Climate Action
- UN Climate Change Report: Land Clearing and Farming Contribute a Third of the World’s Greenhouse Gases
- How the G7 Can Save the Amazon Rainforest
- New Study Finds Amazon Rainforest Fires Gets 93% Less Coverage on Cable News Than the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire
Typhoon Goni/Rolly on October 30. Source: CIRA/RAMMB.