Philippines is one of the most affected and vulnerable countries in the world. It is annually visited by twenty typhoons, bringing heavy rainfall that causes flooding, landslides and mudslides. These in turn destroy valuable agricultural land and settlements, and claim many lives every year. Other hazards such as El Nino aggravate the extent of these damages, which sum up to an annual loss of 0.5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Eastern Visayas, mainly consisting of the islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran, is one of the most disaster prone regions in the Philippines, experiencing some of the worst typhoons ever recorded in Philippine history, killing over a thousand people through a mudslide in February 2006, and over 6,000 people due to typhoons back in 1990-1991. Disaster preparedness is one of the weaknesses of the region and for the most part, it is still seen as emergency management. The government and the local people are neither sufficiently prepared nor well equipped to implement preventive measures and execute the right actions in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, the archipelagic nature of the country further increases its vulnerability to the rising sea levels brought about by melting polar ice caps. Some of the islands will thus be underwater and marine resources will be extinct within the century, according to United Nations studies.
The Philippines account for only 1/3 of 1% (0.3%) of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions all over the world, and it seriously suffers from the other 99.7% GHG produced by other countries. This is why the big GHG emitting countries, namely the United States, China, Russia, Japan and members of the European Union, must take the lead in initiating and continuing actions to help prepare third world communities and people toward climate change preparedness, adaptation and mitigation while uplifting the people’s economic and organizational capacity to withstand its adverse effects.
Because of these human-made problems, people around the world, including those in vulnerable countries such as the Philippines, are ready for action. And one of the best ways to do this is for communities around the world to be:
1. Educated: People should individually study the various aspects of climate change, including the scientific basis, environmental and social impacts, policy and strategy options, and operational measures, most especially those related and applicable to their own communities.
2. United: Key representatives from the different sectors of the society should unite themselves in an organization to discuss and express their concerns about climate change-related problems, and present and represent the people’s needs to higher authorities such as the local governments. Climate change initiatives all over the world should also be united for their actions to be more efficient and all encompassing.
3. Cooperative: When the government and non-government organizations initiate climate change programs, communities should more willingly help and cooperate with them, for they are in fact the beneficiaries of all these efforts.
Each of us has the power to make the transition to a better, more sustainable future for us, our children and the generations to come. Together, our efforts will help solve the climate crisis.