We must prioritize the environment now, before natural disasters get even worse

(Suparerg Suksai/Pexels)

I don’t know about you, but these storms are getting ridiculous.

(Suparerg Suksai/Pexels)

Parts of the country are still reeling from the passage of Typhoon Karding (International name Noru) that made its second landfall in the wee hours of September 26, 2022.

People watched as meteorologists documented Karding’s transformation from a tropical depression to a supertyphoon as it made its way through Central Luzon.

NGOs and even private citizens began readying themselves to help potential victims, posting their appeals on social media. Farmers with internet access wrote posts or made vlog posts about how they were going to lose their harvests. One particularly viral vlog post had a farmer showcasing his lush rice field that would have been ready to harvest in two weeks, if it were not for Karding. Now, he would lose everything, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He spoke evenly, yet the resignation and weariness of experiencing yet another natural disaster was plain in his demeanor.

Also on social media, like followers crying out to their god, people called on the Sierra Madre mountain range to protect the area from the worst of the typhoon. Mountains with healthy ecosystems can weaken or stop storms because of their upward sloping terrain and because the moisture contained therein can affect the flow of wind, making it lose volume. The Sierra Madre has been doing this for as long as it has existed, but is slowly becoming less effective as a typhoon barrier as its ranges become denuded by illegal logging and mining activities, as well as legal projects that are harmful to its ecosystem.

It is because of the second fact that environment and climate change activists and allies took the opportunity to remind people that if we want the Sierra Madre to keep protecting us like it did with Karding, we have to protect it in turn. There is a huge call among citizens to protect the mountain range, but responsibility still lies with the government in terms of drafting and implementing laws to safeguard its environment, as well as denying projects that could harm it.

Some of Karding’s aftermath included floods, power outages, at least P3 million in infrastructural damages, at least P1.29 BILLION in agricultural damages, with almost 70,000 people affected and eight killed. And that’s with the help of the Sierra Madre. One shudders to imagine what the effects would have been if the mountain range wasn’t there. Unfortunately, that could be the scenario sooner than later, if it continues to be ravaged of resources.

The climate crisis is real, and those who deny it now can only afford to do so for so long. The sooner we realize that everything is connected—that the effects of a typhoon in Central Luzon ripples out and affects the entire country in a myriad of ways, from national expenditure to furthering the country’s food insecurity and therefore, bolstering its dependence on importation amidst the rising dollar—the easier it will be to course correct and support what’s really important: the environment, social safety nets, and so on. Otherwise, things are just going to get worse. By then, it might be too late, even for the people who think they will not be affected.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Yvette Tan
Yvette Tan is Agriculture magazine's managing editor’s web editor. She is an award-winning writer who likes to eat, travel, and listen to stories about the strange and supernatural. She is dedicated to encouraging people to push for sustainable food sources and is an advocate of food security, food sovereignty, and the preservation of community foodways.

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