Dec 052014

IT feels strange, to the point of being surreal. Here we are, barely a year out of the most damaging storm ever to hit the Philippines. And again, we are staring at the prospect of another, just as equally devastating weather disturbance, trying to retrace the steps of the one that went before it a year ago.

Strange, too, to hear the name that has been chosen for this incoming weather system. While we were accustomed to hearing meteorologists talk about the “hagupit ng bagyong Yolanda over our airwaves,” I am not sure “hagupit ng bagyong Hagupit” would have quite the same ring to it. Nevertheless, poetic rhyming or not, it promises to be just as destructive as the one that went before it.

We’ve all heard of the expression “like watching a train wreck in slow motion.” One
knows it is going to come, one can see it coming, but there is very little one can do about it. Except, to get out of the way, of course.

Getting out of the way, it seems, is our only option these days. As people living in a land renowned for devastating natural phenomena of every kind, it is almost inescapable that we will be subject to these furies of nature every now and again.

And nature being nature, it will not care where these furies pass. Whether it be through human habitation, or remote and far-flung locations.

The only problem, it seems to me, is that we are now having to get out of the way with increasing regularity, unlike what we had to do in the past.

As a boy growing up in Central Visayas, typhoons were regular visitors to our island home. But I don’t remember them being the specters that they are today. Back then, the storms passed year after year, but we always seemed to get on with our lives almost straightaway thereafter. Today, things are not so comforting anymore.

Many still refuse to take the phenomenon of global warming seriously. Well, most of the culprits still don’t seem to do so, anyway. They say the evidence is just not that convincing enough yet. Well, a few years ago this is what the naysayers to the health problems of smoking were saying.

There was not enough evidence to support the claim that smoking caused cancer. But today, we know much better. Smoking does kill, and it has done so to many of the advocates who years ago were claiming that there was not enough proof that it could do so.

The same seems to be with the case with global warming.

Experiments and their results are the final arbiter to test hypotheses. And true enough, it is not easy to conclude that the increase in greenhouse gases is directly responsible for spawning these destructive weather systems, and causing them to become more destructive.

But who do we blame?

Anecdotally, it all seems to make sense. There is a direct correlation to what we are observing with increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and the dramatic changes happening in the world’s weather systems. We have dry spells that are getting drier, and storms that are getting even stronger. Do we need any more proof than these?

There is a lot at stake in the weather denial game. But there are grave consequences, too. And the sooner we realize, like the smokers did with smoking, that there are really grave consequences for our ecological transgressions, the better it will be for the world and its current and future inhabitants.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 07, 2014.

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