I live in a city not far from the coast. The effects of climate change in my local community are not visually evident due to the city being one of the primary nests of business enterprises and economic ventures (the heart of the region is also the capital of the country). However, if we continue to have a loose grasp on our activities that greatly affect climate, one of the many significant changes that will occur would be increase in mean annual temperatures effectuating a further proportional increase in cyclone frequency.
(Climate Change Impacts in Philippines)
More cyclones exacerbate an already impoverished community
Firstly, stronger and more frequent tropical cyclones on a city would mean more suspended working days. Every suspended working day approximately cost the industry hundreds of millions to a billion dollars (for the years 2012-2014).
(Monteiro & Del Rosario, 2014) This kind of
economic damage is harrowing to a third world country. It not only impedes
growth and development in these sectors but would worsen the current financial
problems it is currently struggling with.
Heavy rainfall and flooding in a city incapacitates public transportation. Floods that exceed the height of an average car render roadways impassable. People become stranded in their homes. Those brave enough to meet the torrents are usually met with injuries and sometimes death when carried away by the strong currents. Social order and law may break down. During typhoon “Ondoy”, there were reports of certain stores charging extra for living necessities in the hopes of creating extra profit to recover from damages the typhoon has inflicted on them.
Another prominent social effect during a storm crisis is the wave of depression that sweeps the person who witnesses the ordeals the victims go through during and after the storm. There is a feeling of helplessness and empathy towards those who have lost their homes and their loved ones.
There are political issues as well in dealing with typhoons. During typhoon “Yolanda”, there were reports of some iconic personalities who advertised themselves on relief goods donated by other countries. Such clandestine acts have been condemned by social media. Opposing political parties blame the sluggish response time to the disaster on each other and on those officials ranking above and below them (playing the infamous “blame game”). Any political figure would have a hard time keeping a straight face with all the accusations and problems being thrown at them (the system of information flow is imperfect so judgement can’t be fully one-sided and justice can’t be fully exercised, the media and people may be at fault too for setting unreasonable expectations on very demanding situations).
Mitigating the consequences in my local community
It is hard to address this kind of problem, especially for someone residing in an urban area. The only effective solution that comes to mind is to remain active in environmental efforts and spread awareness. I personally accomplish this by engaging in similar endeavours such as volunteering for NGOs (ex. Greenpeace) and taking part in CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities sponsored by the company I work for. In one of the lecture videos on Climate Change (Coursera) by the University of Melbourne, delivered by Professor John Barnett, he emphasized the popular misleading notion that we are incapable of doing anything significant to combat the effects of climate change. This, of course, is not true. It is like going back to the mentality where we are too small, and the world is too big, for man to have any permanent influence. Aside from pointing out this myth, Mr. Barnett also drove a very striking question to the audience (or at least to me). “Is simply planting trees enough to impede climate change?” Such a striking question because most of the programs I’ve participated in dealt with planting and nurturing trees. One such program is Greenpeace’s tree nurturing activity at a dam which supplies the local community with drinkable tap water. The trees surrounding the dam help prevent soil erosion on the adjacent hills and keep the dam at safe water levels. Another is a CSR activity that involved planting trees on a reservoir connected to the said dam. Do these activities really do any good? Reflecting on the matter, it is better than doing nothing at all (but this isn’t always the case because there are acts that seem to be helpful but are in fact forms of maladaptation). Thus, I keep my fingers crossed and continue to pursue such endeavours hoping that collective action in the long run could somehow mitigate the consequences of climate change.
Climate Change Impacts in Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2015, from WWF Global: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/rising_temperatures/hotspot_map/philippines.cfm
Monteiro, P., & Del Rosario, R. (2014, October 16). Holiday Economics. Retrieved September 19, 2015, from Makati Business Club: http://www.mbc.com.ph/engine/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/CW184.pdf