Sunday, August 12, 2012

Strained resources in the Philippines

Melanie Lim in the Sun Star (Philippines): Two million people were affected by the relentless rains and enormous floods that inundated the national capital region and its vicinity. As of this writing, the death toll brought on by the southwest monsoon rains is 60. We’ve been told to expect more of the same in the future. The enormous floods, we’ve been told, are the new normal.

What is causing the flooding? The relentless rains are brought about by unprecedented climate change. The flooding, on the other hand, is a conspiracy of damaged watersheds and clogged drainage systems. We were warned long ago. But we did not listen.

...We’ve cut too many trees. And we’ve cut indiscriminately without replacement. We’ve destroyed our forests. Housing and commercial developments have spread to the suburbs to serve a burgeoning population.

Add to this the perennial problem of clogged waterways due to the colonies of squatters that invade the cities. And that’s how floods come with a vengeance. In an urban planner’s dream, residents do not occupy riverbanks and dump garbage in the rivers. But this is the norm in our country. It’s not even a new norm. It’s an old norm. And now, it’s come to haunt us.

Master plans for new drainage systems need to be drawn up. The problem of garbage disposal needs to be seriously tackled. Squatter colonies need to be permanently removed from danger zones. Waterways need to be kept free of obstruction. No one should live by rivers, creeks, canals and other natural drainage arteries.

We have to replace the trees we have cut down. We have to stop illegal logging. We have to regulate development. And at the end of the day, we have to come to the realization that we also need to control our population....

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