Year 2, Month 12, Day 24: Of Course I Believe In Free Will; I Have No Choice.

The Philippines got whacked with some serious weather recently. A lot of deaths, a lot of damage, a lot of tragedy. The Philippine Sun-Times runs an editorial titled “Tempting Fate”:

TWO interesting points in the latest tragedy to hit the country: Sendong poured a month’s worth of rainfall in 24 hours in certain regions, including the worst-hit areas of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and tropical storms do not hit Mindanao often.

The first point presupposes a calamity, the second complacency. When the two are in one brew, the result is deadly.

“Mindanao is usually not a typhoon-prone area,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross, was quoted by an Agence France Presse (AFP) report as saying, “that is why most residents were caught unprepared.”

“Climate is changing. We must also change the way we address climate issues,” she added. That’s another way of saying people everywhere, including places that feel safe by tradition, should be complacent no longer.

That can be done if officials dust off warnings left rotting in old files and wield political will to address them.

Meanwhile, American politicians are obsessing about your freedom to buy shitty light bulbs. Sent December 20:

Human-caused climate change is not something looming in the intangible future, but a phenomenon that is unfolding everywhere, right now. Human civilization is rooted in the stable and predictable weather our planet has experienced for the past twelve thousand years or so; it is during this comparatively short span of Earth’s history that agriculture was developed, and that industrialization transformed the world.

Now the atmospheric transformations brought about by the carbon-burning industrialized nations are bringing this time to an end. Consistent weather patterns will soon be a thing of the past; complacency in the face of this transforming climate is a very dangerous attitude.

Politicians from the developed world seem unable to imagine the world we are entering, or to conceive a culture that is not powered by burning coal and oil. Their failure to take responsibility for the disaster they have wrought has grave repercussions for the international community.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 2, Day 4: Actually, ALL Of Us Live On Islands

The Philippines Inquirer runs an article predicting that 2011 is going to have more weather anomalies — a prognostication that falls in the “utterly obvious” category. It’s a much better piece than you’ll find in the American media.

Of course, Filipinos and Filipinas are seeing climate change up close and personal:

Here at home, in Baguio City, millions worth of fruits and vegetables were ruined by heavy frost of an unseasonably cold weather.

More than a week of abnormally heavy rains left 33 dead last December. About 70,000 fled the flash floods and landslides in Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Albay.

Our people in those areas remain in turmoil—hundreds of hectares of rice lands, private property and infrastructure destroyed; a total of P431 million in newly planted crops and fertilized soil washed away; and contagious diseases and rat hordes added to their immense misery.

So the least I can do is add a voice in sympathy. As is all too often the case, finding the LTE link was an exercise in frustration.

Ban Ki-moon’s plea to the developed nations of the world is heartfelt and sincere. The unpredictable weather countless nations have experienced over the past year is only the beginning; the orchestra of chaos is only tuning up, and in the decades to come we are going to witness extreme weather events that are certain to shatter record after record. Unfortunately, the political system in the USA has been captured by (to use Theodore Roosevelt’s trenchant phrase) “malefactors of great wealth.” Operatives of the world’s biggest corporations wield almost unchecked power in the halls of American governance, and the notion of a national climate policy based on scientific fact now seems hopelessly unrealistic. The U.N. Secretary General is apparently now refocusing his attention and energy on an economic rationale for changes in the world’s energy economy. Let us hope that “profit” is a more effective motivator than “planet.”

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 19: Wow. An Inspiring Politician. Who Knew?

The Manila Bulletin tells us about Philippines Senator Loren Legarda’s advice to the country and the legislature:

“As we continue to face weather in extremes, public health, energy, water security, our biodiversity, and economic growth are also under grave threat. Most at risk are lives that we cannot put a price on,” Legarda said.

“With all this in mind, we cannot afford to wait for the next screaming headline about death and destruction from typhoons, floods or drought before we take concrete actions. It is critical that the increased attention, interest, and sense of urgency in responding to the challenges posed by climate change and disaster risks are translated to local actions that effectively reduce disaster vulnerability,” she further explained.

The senator stressed the need to make communities safer, more resilient, and even more ready to act when disaster strikes.

“We must build homes for the homeless, but we need to make sure they are built in areas that will ensure safety and security to home owners even in times of disasters. We must construct roads and bridges to facilitate movements of goods and services; but in building them, we will make sure they do not facilitate the demise of lives. We must not train our sights merely on enhancing our capacities to re-build in times of disasters; but rather on reducing risks for our people and building lasting communities,” she said.

I didn’t know about her. I think I have a new hero:

Loren Legarda is a Filipino broadcast journalist, environmentalist, and politician of Visayan ancestry, notable as the only female to top two senatorial elections (1998 and 2007). During the 2004 Philippine general election, she ran for the position of Vice-President as an Independent with Fernando Poe, Jr. as running mate.

Legarda is a notable advocate of Climate Change Awareness and has numerous achievements in the fields of social development and human rights advocacy along with her work in journalism. As a journalist, she has received many awards. In 2008, she was chosen as “United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation”. She was a member of the Philippine delegation during the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.


Could we have a few like her in this country? Please?

Anyway, my letter to the Manila Bulletin:

At this point, there is no valid rationale for doubting the danger posed by anthropogenic global warming. Atmospheric heating triggered by the greenhouse effect was predicted decades ago, and climatologists have been refining their understanding of these phenomena since then. It is a cruel irony that through accidents of geography, the world’s wealthiest and most developed nations may the last to be severely affected. These countries are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse emissions, while the nations with negligible carbon footprints stand to lose the most to rising sea levels, extreme weather, crippling drought and all the other predicted consequences of climate change. The Philippines’ initiative to plan ahead for likely outcomes in a world of climate chaos is an important example to the rest of the world. There are many good ways to prepare for the future — but avoiding the facts is not one of them.

Warren Senders