Sendong, The Philippines, and Climate Change

Aftermath of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi)

Aftermath of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) — photo from ABS-CBN News Channel

Every day I’ve been searching press reports about the latest disaster in The Philippines for any mention of the causes of the massive flooding beyond that Tropical Storm Sendong (also known as Washi) blew in. Finally, here’s one from The Philippine Daily Inquirer. An excerpt:

The tragedy that struck the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan was an event waiting to happen. It was foretold three years ago, but was dismissed by lawmakers as “too alarmist.”…[A] simulation of the effects of extreme weather events from climate change such as saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and intense tropical cyclones, showed that major Philippine cities, including Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, were at risk of massive flooding.

The same dynamic keeps happening. Projections by scientists are dismissed by politicians, ideologues, and other corporate representatives as “alarmist,” or even as some sort of conspiracy. Nothing is done to prevent disaster or to prepare for foreseen events. Then the projections turn out to be true. Yet the deniers keep spouting their nonsense, and it keeps getting better coverage than the science, whose uncertainty is played up. In reality, the general trend is that the scientific projections have been found to be too conservative–not “alarmist” enough. Every report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is already known, by the time it is approved and published, to have underestimated effects like sea level rise. But those who represent the movement of capital keep undermining action, pushing us toward a more and more perilous future. Until we can abolish capital (which is a social relation, not a thing), we will have no chance of avoiding climate chaos.

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4 Responses to Sendong, The Philippines, and Climate Change

  1. And now finally here’s an article that mentions (only briefly at the end) the role of deforestation:
    “Questions are also being asked about whether illegal logging on the coastal hillsides worsened the scale of the disaster. The UN Special Representative on Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlstrom, said the disaster showed that more must be done ‘to ensure early warning systems are effective in an age when climate change is intensifying the impact of typhoons.'”

    • myrna eloisa v. ramos says:

      I am from Cagayan de Oro. This is hilarious but true.
      In Barangay Macasanding ..Tibasak and Kala-Kala the hardest
      hit area which is along the flood plain has a siren a warning device..
      Oh! it did scream but the residents did not know what was that about.
      They thought it was an ambulance or a fire alarm…The city government
      did not inform the residents that it is a flood or disaster alarm. No one knew.
      No one was told what was that all about.

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